Rear Window (1954)

Rear Window is a 1954 American suspense film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, written by John Michael Hayes and based on Cornell Woolrich’s 1942 short story “It Had to Be Murder”. Originally released by Paramount Pictures, the film stars James Stewart as a photographer who spies on his neighbors while recuperating from a broken leg; Grace Kelly as his girlfriend; Thelma Ritter as his nurse; Wendell Corey as a police detective; and Raymond Burr as one of the neighbors. The film is considered by many filmgoers, critics and scholars to be one of Hitchcock’s best It received four Academy Award nominations, and was added to the United States National Film Registry in 1997 (International Movie Database, 2010)

The film came at a time when General distrust of the person next door who may have communist sympathies or be involved in communist activities as from 1941 -57 it was illegal to be a member of the Communist Party, known as the “Red Scare” (Curwick, 2002). The changing context and values in this film also show the empowerment of ordinary people to take an active role in policing their own worlds  – to be vigilant and watchful as well as the changing role of women in society.Below you will find webpages related to Rear Window and it’s relation to the crime fiction genre. Click the links and a new window will open up to take you to the website.

Albert Hitchcock

Alfred Hitchcock
A brief biography into the life and works of perhaps is one of the greatest directors in the thriller genre, Alfred Hitchcock.
Director of iconic films such as North By Northwest (1959) and Psycho (1960), it provides a background into all of Hitchcock’s films, from his first effort as director in “The Pleasure Garden” (1925) up to his last film “Family Plot” (1976) all with a brief description and analysis about each film.  

Alfred Hitchcok – Online
A Dutch fansite that provides links about Alfred Hitchcock including his biography, movies and famous quotes by the director. The movies link allows users to view/hear snippets of a few of his films, provided they have the correct software to do so (in which there is a link to download their choice of software).

Film Techniques of Alfred Hitchcock
Ever wanted to film and direct a movie like Hitchcock? This website will show you how.

It showcases the thirteen essential steps on how Hitchcock creates the suspense and thrills within his films including “how characters must break cliché” and how “a camera is not a camera,” two techniques which are very prevalent in the film “Rear Window.”

Rear Window


1000 frames of Rear Window (1954)

A “Wikipedia” style website dedicated to all the works of Albert Hitchcock. This link contains 1000 frames of the film, shown from the beginning to the end. By doing this, it allows viewers of the website to intrinsically analyse important scenes from the film in a still frame. It is also good for analysis when describing a particular scene in the film within the critical response. Be patient with the website as it may take a while for all 1000 images to load.

Detailed Review of Rear Window (1954)
A great detailed review/look into the film, it is a four page comprehensive summary which includes a character list and their roles as well as specific scene scrutinies that make it a great read to gain an inclusive insight into the film.

It also does much to show the subversions of the crime fiction genre, as the reader is told about the “murder” that takes place, the hybrid structure of the narrative and how “Jeff” is placed in the role of a detective, despite being a photographer.

Rear Window (1954) Full Script

Taken from the Internet Movie Script Database, it is the entire script of the “Rear Window” in great detail, including camera movement, dissolving and fading in/out of scenes.  This is useful for quoting scenes in the critical response and can be used in conjunction with the
1000 Frames of Rear Window to accurately portray a particular element/scene/action within the film.

Rear Window (1954)
Another in depth look at the film, it pays specific focus to the role of “Jeff” as not just a hero, but a hero through the perspective of the viewer: a watcher who thinks (or in the case of the style of the film, sees) something that they are powerless to stop. It places a new spin on the “traditional” role of the detective and allows “Jeff” and by extension the viewer to become a “peeping-tom” of sorts.
Giving information about the background of the film and its adaptation from a crime fiction novel “It Had To Be Murder” by Cornell Woolrich (also known as William Irish), it provides an insight into the way that Hitchcock has portrayed Jeff within the film and how viewers are made to watch the action from Jeff’s perspective and in essence solve the crime along with Jeff.

The Simpsons – Bart Of Darkness (1994)
The film is parodied in the episode of The Simpsons entitled “Bart of Darkness,” in where Bart Simpson takes on the role of Jeff in the subplot of the episode. Like Jeff, Bart is confined to his room due to a broken leg and spies on the neighbourhood with his telescope. Bart witnesses an apparent murder through his telescope, with musical cues from the film also being used.  Bart encounters a caricature of Jeff who says “There’s a weird kid looking at [him]” and that “He’s going to kill [Jeff]” Also, the pictures on the wall of Jeff’s room are a racing car accident and a plane, the same as in Rear Window.

A Study of Suspense: Film Narrative
This website talks about how Hitchcock’s ability to explore how manipulations of framing can create compelling narrative.  Filmmakers, in their own ways, employ various strategies related to the construction of narrative and its meaning, from point of view, editing, character, and narrative structure as a whole. The first half of the webpage focuses on “Rear Window” and how Hitchcock uses the juxtaposition of narrational modes, audience sympathies, different visual tones and genres in the film to tell the narrative and plot line.
The way that the film is shot sheds light on the hybridity of the film in regards to genre of crime fiction, as the narrative of the film is not essentially linear and shows the duality of various narratives (the supposed “romance” between the various couples and the murder mystery itself).

Dr Crippen and Emerly Bielby Kaye murder cases
Hitchcock’s inspiration for the film came partly from two much publicised cases of murderers called Dr Hawley Crippen in 1910, who was convicted and hung for the murder of his wife on November 23, 1910 and of Patrick Mahon, a British criminal who was found guilty in 1924 of the murder of Emerly Bielby Kaye.

It Had To Be Murder
The film “Rear Window” was based on a short story called “It Had to be Murder” (1942) by Cornell Woolrich (who went by the alias of Willian Irish). This website describes the background into the book and how Hitchcock managed to transform the story onto the silver screen. It also tells of the (sometimes) dramatic changes that Hitchcock and screen player writer John Michael Hayes made in comparison to original telling of the story.

Extended Trailer to Rear Window with a visual description of the film

Activity
Rear Window (1954) worksheet (downloadable .pdf file here)

Click here to move onto the next section, “How to Write a Great Crime Fiction Imaginative Response”

References:
1. International Movie Database (2010) Rear Window (1954). International Movie Database. Retrieved August 16, 2010 from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0047396/
2. Curwick, S (2002) Communism in Washington State: History. Communism in Washington State History and Memory Project. Retrieved August 16, 2010 from http://depts.washington.edu/labhist/cpproject/curwick.shtml

Images (from descending order)
1. Universal Studios (1954). Rear Window Movie Poster. Retrieved August 23, 2010 from http://top250movies.net/images/photos/Rear-Window.jpg
2. Albert Hitchcock. Retrieved August 23, 2010 from http://carbolicsmoke.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/alfred-hitchcock.jpg
3. Hitchcock, A (1954) Scene from Rear Window. Retrieved August 23, 2010 from http://pixdaus.com/pics/9Nw9YiQw9u1HFBv24R.jpg
4. Hitchcock, A (1954) Jeff  from Rear Window. Retrieved August 23, 2010 from http://dearcinema.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/11/rear-window.jpg
5. It Had To Be Murder cover. Retrieved August 23, 2010 from http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51PW8D7SBTL._SS500_.jpg

Video
1. Universal Studios (1954) Rear Window Trailer. Retrieved August 24, 2010 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kCcZCMYw38&feature=player_embedded