Rear Window (1954)
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (Champagne; The Farmer's Wife)
Overview: A photographer with a broken leg is laid up with only his window overlooking his neighbours as entertainment. When he starts noticing some suspicious behaviour, he wonders if it could be murder.
Acting: We have a perfect mesh of the ideal archetypes: the girl in love, exuding style, grace and perfection; the nurse, quippy, straight up and down to earth; the detective, hardened and blasé; and our photographer, a man bored and curious to find excitement in this broken-legged dreary day. Yet each of these players have a real element of humanity that makes us realize that they fully comprehend the possibilities of what could be unfolding, and from those archetypes flow subtle nuance and rich backstory. At one point I turned to Girlfriend of Squish, gagging, telling her how Hitchcock should stop overfeeding me perfection. I almost puked.
Cinematography: I love stylized film. I'm all about the art at heart. This is the finest example of the everyday made gallery-worthy. When our photographer looks out the window, we drift glancing across long-swaying pans between the apartments that make up his/our field of vision. It's so simple and seamlessly beautiful that you know right away how perfectly this was edited. One of my favorite shots is the introduction of Lisa Freemont, the girlfriend. In the dark, she smiles a rich red wet-look lipsticked smile and comes in close, soft and graceful upon her man, sleeping in his wheelchair. As a filmmaker, should I ever be able to pull off such a shot and inspire one's perfection in a character within seconds, damn, I'd be a genius.
Remember in The Big Lebowski when we meet Jesus for the first time in that bowling alley (played by John Turturo), all slow-motion quick cuts and extreme close-ups while a Latin fanfare plays? Yeah, floors you.
Script: The perfect mix of funny and deep with the ever-current. We have love-interest sub-plots that aren't cheesy. We have mysteries discussed, dismissed and re-discovered. This is the kind of script where the everyman finds the extra-ordinary and does everything he can to come to a simple logical conclusion. With just enough exposition to keep revealing the mystery, and just enough doubt to keep the mystery going, you'll understand why this is one of the best American films ever made.
Plot: Imagine yourself stuck in an apartment for six weeks, going a little batty. You begin people watching through their windows, as friends tell you to stop your voyeurism, to take up reading or something. Then you're convinced that something is terribly amiss across the way. What makes this film such genius is the way the secondary characters approach the subject when it's brought up. At first dismissive, they indulge the man speaking to them just long enough to caution his cabin-fevered self. What impressed me most was not how this film ended or the intense moments of classic Thriller fame, but that all those who were brought into the fold seriously considered the issue, as we all would, rather than going screwball and cracking out one-liners.
Mood: The themes of sinful voyeurism co-mingles with a Film-Noiresque lighting motif. Shade and light play an integral part in this film, be it as simple as making sure the lamp is off while spying or in the way we learn that someone is hiding there, their solitary cigarette ember burning in their darkened room. As the film progresses, the darkness and the shadows grows more prevalent, until it reaches a grand apex. Man, I gotta see this again and soon.
Aftertaste: The best Hitchcock film I've seen yet. I only hope that there's a films I'll prefer even more than this, like North By Northwest or Psycho, but I'm going to have a hard time believing that those films were made as perfectly. Here is the gold I've found among the ruins of the past.