Rear Window- 4th Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon

This year for the Grace Kelly Blogathon Day 2 I made the daunting decision to write up on Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954)– which is arguably not only The Master’s best film, but also Grace’s best role.

But before I get into some of the technicalities, I will say that instead of giving a boring bloated analysis of it- Id like to focus on some of the stand out pieces that I feel make the picture brilliant

Grace plays Lisa Carol Fremont in this role- a model and independent woman. Her boyfriend is a photographer LB “Jeff” Jefferies (maybe that’s how they met!) played by Jimmy Stewart. Jeff breaks his leg and is holed up in his apartment with nothing to do but stare out and “spy” on his neighbors. Its all people watching until one night he suspects his neighbor Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) murders his wife. Jeff, Lisa, along with Jeff’s nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter), then investigate the truth.

One element that I feel goes overlooked is the scene in which Lisa turns on the lights and introduces herself to the audience. Everyone focuses on her kiss entrance scene- but the scene that follows is just as brilliant.

Lisa goes over and turns on three lights- and with each light says a part of her name. But note the framing- the first light, Lisa- the camera is a close up; the second light, Carol- its a medium shot- and finally the third light, Fremont, the camera zooms out to a long shot in which we get to see her gorgeous black and white frock.

Its pieces like this in which I feel Hitchcock’s tiniest details of framing and dialogue go great with each other. And Grace- she’s the only actress who could make an entrance as simple as this super sophisticated and elegant.

Another element in this movie that I feel may be under rated is Hitchcock’s use of sound. Except for the opening credits, all sound in this film is diegetic sound. Its an interesting choice for Hitch, as usually his soundtrack scores are a key focus of his films. Take a look at the intro to the film (don’t worry no spoilers)

I’m not a fan of Jazz- but there is something so infectious about this piece of music that sets the scene for the film. You automatically thing New York, the 50s, glamour, but business of the city. Also note how in the title sequence there are shades opening almost as if the audience is the voyeur for this picture.

Next- lets talk about the under rated and often taken for granted set of this movie- its a whole neighborhood in a sound stage- and that’s something you rarely see anymore (as its too expensive!). This is a set with no green screen, or digital apartments- they are really there and they are built. From what I know- they used two sound stages and the apartments were the street level while places like the courtyard were actually the basement.

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All apartments were made livable, and Hitchcock would give direction through an earpiece that all the actors had. Watch the video for the opening scene of the neighborhood and courtyard- just mind blowing on how that was all created!!

Finally- Lets discuss Grace Kelly in this movie!! This is her ultimate glamour role, her ultimate Hitchcock role and her most well known role. I feel only she could be Lisa Carol Fremont and if someone else like Vera Miles or Kim Novak would have played the role- this picture would not have been as believable or memorable. Lisa Fremont is so proactive, more than just the “girlfriend”and sidekick- as she’s the one doing the action scenes that Jeff can’t. I believe Hitch spent the rest of his career trying to find another actress to create a role such as this- but naturally and utterly failed, finding good, but somewhat sub-parr actresses for big roles in his pictures. Its so easy to take for granted how phenomenal Grace is in this role!!!

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In Sept 2017 (the day of Grace’s death) I had the pleasure of viewing Rear Window on the big screen and I can say that it absolutely changes your experience. Seeing every moment play out on the big screen makes it all more thrilling and dazzling.

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Click here to read a post I did concerning the fashions of Rear Window.

To Grace I will say that on this happiest day her birthday-I hope we can all pay her a great tribute, and I hope she is thrilled and perhaps touched that there are so many young people who still adore her and her movies!

 

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13 thoughts on “Rear Window- 4th Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon

  1. This film is a masterpiece. I love how Grace conveys to us how much Lisa changes as the film goes on. She really gets stuck in and risks herself. We like and admire even more as the film goes on, just like Jeff begins to love and admire her more. It really is one of her best roles. I really envy her for getting to wear all those lovely outfits in this too.

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  2. When it comes to people picking the “best” Grace Kelly performance, so many go straight to “High Society.” But I’m with you, I think she does her best work in the three Hitchcock films, “Rear Window” being the head of the class. The only knock I have on “Rear Window” is I have a hard time buying Grace Kelly scaling an apartment building in a dress and high heels; I would think the “strong, Independent” woman would have at least kicked off the heels 🙂

    On an unrelated note, I’ve just announced my very first hosted blog-a-thon and I would love to have you as a part of it!
    https://dubsism.com/2018/11/11/get-ready-for-the-box-office-jocks-blog-a-thon/

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  3. Excellent article Emily! I loved how you decided to present us the film. It indeed changes from the usual analysis. Felt like a breath of fresh air.
    I love it when Lisa turns on the lights! I actually never noticed it was three different shots for each lamps! Good observation,

    I’m glad you payed attention to the sound, that’s something that’s often overlooked when time comes to talk about films. But having been a sound engineer myself for a short film we made at school, I know how important it is! Rear Window surely explores this dimension in a interesting way.

    And yes, Grace is perfect in the role!

    Love your photo with the Rear Window poster! Pearl necklace: that looks so Graceful! 😉

    Thanks so much for this contribution (and again for co-hosting haha!)

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  4. Pingback: The 4 Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon: Day 2 – The Wonderful World of Cinema

  5. Wonderful article. I totally agree with you that this is Grace’s best Hitchcock directed role. She is awesome in this move. And I love how you highlighted things about the film that we don’t tend to think about a lot. Really enjoyed reading this!

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  6. Nice review! When I have to give my “favorite movie” to people usually I choose Rear Window without hesitation. I like how you mentioned the sound design. I think it’s one of the wonderful layers of this movie along with the music. Like how the songwriter is literally writing the melody for Lisa and Jefferies’ love story with all its ups and downs. There so many great little touches!

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  7. Pingback: Many thanks to the participants of the 4th Wonderful Grace Kelly Blogathon! – The Wonderful World of Cinema

  8. I honestly never realized there wasn’t any non-diegetic audio in the picture. Sometimes you take Hitch’s mastery for granted and you’re too busy enjoying the movie. Grace Kelly is so wonderfully understated in this picture. Compare it to To Catch a Thief, where she’s large and elegant and over-the-top. She’s contained here, and it shows so much more intensity in its understatement.

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  9. Leila

    I watched this movie as part of my course at the university and I remember being struck by Grace Kelly’s beauty. She was portrayed as the perfect woman that every man desires.

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