Monday, 29 December 2008

Rear Window (1954)

Rear Window is one of those films that everyone likes. It’s really hard not to. It’s nearly perfect. It's funny and it's sexy - oh so sexy - I mean, just look at those kisses that James Stewart and Grace Kelly share, or the endless number of gags around with the neighbours (my personal favourite being the newly-weds). It’s Hitchcock at the peak of his powers, preparing himself to start what is arguably the best period of his career, directing in succession the likes of To Catch a Thief, The Trouble with Harry, The Wrong Man, Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho. With the exception of "The Wrong Man" I love all of them.

The story is simple. Bored and stuck at home because of a broken leg, James Stewart's character passes his time looking from his rear window to his neighbours lives. And what starts as a possibly harmless pastime becomes far more complex when he becomes convinced that one of his neighbours murdered his wife. The film was the first collaboration of Hitch and screenwriter John Michael Hayes and the second of three with Grace Kelly. And from her he managed the impossible in my eyes, to make her act – all her performances prior to this are a pain to watch, and yet here she’s always fantastic.

I saw the film again recently with a friend on the big screen. Neither of us had ever seen it like that and we loved it. We already knew it by heart and loved it, so frankly we were half there even before we started. The only fault we could find was the colour of the print, which had turned quite dark, especially when compared with the DVD. We were also quite happy that for a screening on a Friday afternoon of a 1954 film, the Cinematheque in Lisbon was quite full, and for once there were loads of young people, some watching it for the very first time – I can honestly say I was a bit jealous of that. Sadly, these screenings still exclude a lot of people. Not everyone in Lisbon can follow a film without subtitles and the print had French ones only. It’s a copy of the Portuguese Cinematheque and they don’t seem to be able to create a file with Portuguese subtitles. In my opinion, it's a pity...

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