1/26/11

GUEST POST- Hitch on the Hump: Matt Suzaka Looks Out the Rear Window

Hey folks. It's time for the second Hitch on the Hump guest post for this month, and I'm happy to say that this one comes by way of the mighty Matt-Suzaka of Chuck Norris Ate My Baby. Matt is one of my best blogging buddies and a helluva writer so I know you're going to enjoy what he has in store for you. So let me turn it over to Matt for a little something he calls....

Rear Window: A Room With A View to Die For.

When I was pondering exactly what film to cover for my Hitch on the Hump guest post, I was thinking of going with something that I hadn't seen that's available on Netflix instant magic. Sounded like a good plan, that is, until I opened my phone late one night to see a reminder that said no more than, Rear Window. Now, that certainly seems a bit ambiguous because you weren't the one who put that reminder in my phone. It was me, and I instantly knew what the title Rear Window was doing on my calendar. It was meant to remind me that, the very next afternoon, one of my local theaters would be showing Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window on the big screen. Specifically on a Sunday, exactly one hour after I was to be done with my workday. I don't think I could have been more excited to have something as cool as that fall into place the way that it did, but in my up-too-late thought process, I knew that the film I would be talking about today, would be 1954's, Rear Window.

Stepping into the quant, cozy little theater, it didn't take long to notice that I was probably the youngest person there…by at least 30 years. I stood out a bit, though, I was naked from the nipples down, so that could have been a factor too. Anyway, as I sat down with a Milk Dud stuffed smile on my face, the film began with an introduction to a cast of characters that will remain nearly anonymous, yet become so familiar, in what is a multitude of gorgeous panning shots spanning the encased backyard of an apartment complex. Enclosed with no more than a four-foot view into the ever so fascinating world outside, Jeff (James Stewart) stares on with a look of sheer boredom. His only entertainment comes from watching his unsuspecting neighbors and the mundaneness that comes from their day-to-day lives.

Injured on a job assignment, Jeff is left in a wheelchair with two broken legs and no choice but to sit and observe. Along with Jeff, the audience is given the chance to look in on the lush and complex world that moves constantly outside of his window. A central hub where all of these characters live and breathe a life that is seemingly meant to be a form of entertainment for Jeff (as well as the viewer). Something that curbs his intense boredom. Jeff's only break from his living, breathing reality show are the visits from his wise yet quirky nurse, Stella (Thelma Ritter) and his fiancé Lisa (Grace Kelly). Through theses interactions the audience is given insight into Jeff's life and his sort of jaded view of the world. Specifically his feelings towards marriage.

Early on Jeff expresses fears and almost annoyance that his wife to be is too perfect for a meat and taters guy such as himself. His fear of rational commitment is confounding at first, specifically because there are very few that could not be infected by the beauty of Grace Jones. Wait, I mean Kelly. The moment Lisa is introduced, the spine chills as her presence immediately takes all points of focus away from the rest of the world that came up until that point. Her radiancy is only matched by her kindness and personality, which really makes one wonder what in the world is wrong with Jeff? It's impossible to fathom that he wouldn't be head over heels for this woman. Regardless, this plays to what is a lovely evolution in their relationship that carries on throughout the film.

The voyeuristic channel surfing that Jeff partakes in, on a day-to-day basis, suddenly turns into something sinister as he witnesses what he believes to be a murder in an adjacent apartment. Jeff knows these people and their patterns well, and also knows that it is very odd that Mr. Thorwald (Raymond Burr), briefcase in tow, leaves his apartment three times over the course of one night. His thoughts of deviance are only impacted when there are sure fire signs that Mr. Thornwald's bedridden wife, Emma, is suddenly nowhere to be seen. Jeff becomes instantly obsessed with trying to crack the case from his stationary position, and he obtains all the help he can get from his nurse, Lisa and an old war buddy turned cop.

There are many incredible aspects of Rear Window. The wonderful voyeuristic cinematography provides a clear view into the lives of Jeff's surroundings. The scene setting music – that is often brilliantly put forth by having one of the tenants be a musician - fills the night sky with a natural score. But what specifics that stand out most are the humor, as well as the budding romance between Jeff and Lisa. Now, many will claim that Jeff finally becoming re-smitten by Lisa comes to him in how the lives of his various neighbors unfold. Granted, there is much to that thought (and the neighbor’s collective relationships certainly mirror his thoughts and feelings), but I like to think that it comes down to the fact that Jeff is actually given the chance to see just the kind of person Lisa truly is. She wins him over with her beauty, charm, quirky-wit and for the love she shows for him.

What makes Rear Window such a fine piece of cinema is how well Hitchcock mixes genres together. It's like being pulled through a comedy laced battlefield by way of a thriller story line, only to step on a love story filled landmine. Wow, that's the stupidest thing I have ever written. Either way, what I'm saying is Hitchcock hits on a multitude of emotional levels and does so seamlessly, without ever feeling like one outweighs the other. Top that off with fabulous acting, filmmaking, music, dialogue and Grace Kelly, and you have yourself a time very-well spent. And by the time I exited the darkened theater and made my way into the brightness of the still lingering daylight hours, a blanket of happiness suddenly came over me. A happiness that comes from being able to spend an afternoon in a theater watching a film that, in the truest sense, is a classic, which is a thought that will always sit comfortably in the back of my memories.


Thanks so much Matt for that wonderful piece about Rear Window. Coming up next week I'll be back with another normal Hitch on the Hump, but I have more Guest goodness for next month so look for posts from both Andre Dumas of The Horror Digest and Pax Romano of Billy Loves Stu. If you'd like to take part in a future Hitch on the Hump, drop me a line and let me know at thelightningbug(@)charter(dot)net. 

5 comments:

  1. Matt, Great review. One of my faves (the movie).

    I have always felt that Jeff's belief that Lisa is really THE ONE, is when she risk's life and limb to sneak into Thorwald's apartment...that look on his face as she's climbing up the fire escape and climbing through the window, he really seems to look totally taken with her again.

    Be that as it may, great post!

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  2. "It's like being pulled through a comedy laced battlefield by way of a thriller story line, only to step on a love story filled landmine."

    Bullshit, that's a great line and also very true.
    AWESOME review!!

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  3. Great, great stuff!

    I dream of seeing this on the big screen. Saw it projected in a lecture hall once, but I need more.

    Keep up the good work you two!

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  4. jervaise brooke hamsterJanuary 27, 2011 at 7:49 AM

    I just remember the gorgeous bird who kept bending over.

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  5. Pax: Thanks Pax, and I agree, it is that scene where his feelings towards Lisa all come flooding to him. She shows this sense of adventure, which is something he believed she would never have within her. I simply adore the gleeful look she gives him from across the way when she finds the handbag, like she was having fun playing investigator!

    Christine: Liar! ;) Thanks and I can't wait till YOU get to see it on the big screen!

    Mike: As Christine has informed me, it's playing somewhere in NY very soon, too. It's one of those things that if you keep your eyes open and check your theaters here and there, they may have a cheap priced, Sunday movie where they show a classic. That's how I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark a few years back!

    Honey bunches: Word to that.

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