Thursday, March 26, 2015

"Rear Window" On The Big Screen

What a treat we had last night at the Cinemark North movie theater.  Thanks to the folks at Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events, we were able to see one of our favorite movies,

as it was "meant to be seen", on  a big screen in a movie theater.

Now we have seen this movie literally dozens of times over the years, but never, not once, on a big screen, and let me tell you, as nice as DVDs Blue Ray discs, and big flat screen HD televisions are, there is nothing quite like seeing a movie on the big screen.

The images are bigger (of course), the colors are brighter, and the details are so much clearer.  For example, as many times as we have seen this, I swear that we never noticed the apartment dwellers to the upper right of James Stewart's view that had the little girl.  Also, all of the people that appeared in the background walking on the street that fronted the apartment building across the courtyard, seemed more vivid and noticeable.  

If you don't know the story of "Rear Window", James Stewart played L.B. Jeffries, a news photographer who, as a result of a severely broken leg, is confined to a wheelchair in his small New York City apartment.  With no TV to distract him, he spends his time observing his neighbors across the courtyard from his rear window view.  Most of it is pretty boring stuff -  a chorus girl practices her dance moves and fights off ardent suitors, a lady does strange sculpture, a song writer struggles to come up with the right tune, a newlywed couple, a salesman with an invalid wife, and a lonely spinster.  All pretty mundane stuff, until Stewart suspects that something strange just may be going on in that salesman's apartment directly across the courtyard.

Stewart has a hard time convincing his girlfriend, played by Grace Kelly, and his homicide detective friend, played by Wendell Corey, that what he thinks happened actually happened, and how it all plays out makes this one of Alfred Hitchcock's most suspenseful movies, and, personally speaking, my favorite Hitchcock movie.  Also of note in this movie were the performances of Raymond Burr as the salesman and Thelma Ritter as Stewart's wisecracking visiting nurse.

The screenplay by John Michael Hayes, based upon a short story by Cornell Woolrich, makes lots of interesting observations on the nature of "rear window ethics" and the very private nature of what goes on behind the closed doors of your neighbors that make this a thought provoking movie on several levels.

"Rear Window" was released in 1954, and was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Hitchcock for Director and Hayes for Screenplay.  It didn't win any Oscars, but that takes nothing away from this movie.  If you've never seen it, you're missing out on a terrific thriller of a movie.  Also, try to seek out the Woolrich story upon which this movie is based.  Depending on your definition, it is either a long short story or a short novel.  It has been anthologized often and is not hard to find.  Woolrich wrote it under the pseudonym of "William Irish" so you may have to search out that name to find it.

Last night's screening also included filmed introductory and closing comments from TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, which added to the enjoyment of the movie.  I hope that TCM and Fathom continue to do screenings like this in the future.  It really is a treat to see these movies in a real movie theater.

Finally, a word about Grace Kelly.  Really, has there ever been a more beautiful actress to grace the screens of Hollywood?  She would certainly be in the Top Five of any such discussion. 

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