Review of “Rear Window”

Review of “Rear(rir) Window”

By Roger Ebert

The hero of Alfred(ˈalfrəd) Hitchcock’s(ˈhiCHˌkäk) “Rear Window” is trapped in a wheelchair(ˈ(h)wēlˌCHer), and we’re trapped, too–trapped inside his point of view, inside his lack of freedom and his limited options. When he passes his long days and nights by shamelessly maintaining a secret watch on his neighbors, we share his obsession(əbˈseSHən). It’s wrong, we know, to spy on others, but after all, aren’t we always voyeurs(voiˈyər, vwäˈyər) when we go to the movies? Here’s a film about a man who does on the screen what we do in the audience–look through a lens at the private lives of strangers.

The man is a famous photographer named L.B. Jeffries–”Jeff” to his fiancée(ˌfēˌänˈsā). He’s played by James Stewart(ˈst(y)o͞oərt, ˈsto͞oːərt) as a man of action who has been laid up with a broken leg and a heavy(ˈhevē) cast that runs all the way up to his hip. He never leaves his apartment and has only two regular visitors. One is his visiting nurse Stella(ˈstelə) (Thelma Ritter(ˈritər)), who predicts trouble (“the New York State sentence for a Peeping Tom is six months in the workhouse”). The other is his fiancée, Lisa Fremont(ˈfrēmänt) (Grace Kelly), an elegant model and dress designer, who despairs of ever getting him to commit himself. He would rather look at the lives of others than live inside his own skin, and Stella lectures(ˈlek(t)SHər) him, “What people ought to do is get outside their own house and look in for a change.”