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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The Alfred Hitchcock Blog Tag

So Yes- this is a day late- but for Mr Hitchcock- I’ll do almost anything! Eva at Coffee, Classics, and Craziness– you’re a genius for this idea!

What was the first Hitchcock film you ever watched?

Credit- filmsite.org

Rear Window! Summer of 2013 when I was bored, I took an interest to Grace Kelly and thought it looked interesting. My life then got better because Hitchcock was in it.

What’s your favorite Hitchcock film?

Again I say… Rear Window. The 39 Steps is also my favorite.  Rebecca, Suspicion, and To Catch a Thief are not to far behind.

What’s your least favorite Hitchcock film?

All of Hitch’s are good in their own way, but I’ve gotta say Jamaica Inn– Although I adore Maureen O’Hara.

What’s your favorite Hitchcock cameo?

Credit- The Hitchcock Zone

LOVE the cameo in Dial M for Murder, so clever! But the one in Mr and Mrs Smith– gotta love that one because Carole Lombard directed it, GO Carole!

Who’s your favorite Hitchcock villain?

Almost everyone is saying Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt– but I haven’t seen that one- yet. I’m gonna have to say Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson) from Rebecca- amazing performance! 

Hero?

TOUGH- Cary Grant in North by Northwest– he has several bar tenders dependent on him! AND he wears a really nice, well cut suit. (HeeHee 😉 )

Heroine?

Credit- The Hitchcock Zone

Again what makes this so hard? Ingrid Bergman in Notorious– who doesn’t root for her!?

What’s your favorite Hitchcock quote?

This one- “The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them” I wish I did that!

And, finally, how many Hitchcock films have you watched?

15.. and counting…

Why I love The 39 Steps (1935)

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For starters, I love the characters. Mr. Memory (Wylie Watson), an amazing fact file that puts Google to shame! Mr. Richard Hannay played by the ever so suave (but not as suave as Nathan Page 🙂 ) Robert Donat. Hannay has a perfect mustache and I love it how he just has to go with the flow- every twist and turn- no matter what happens to him he stays as cool as a cucumber. Of course, he has his frantic moments- the train scene– but who can blame him- (NOT ME!). And naturally I must mention the lovely Madeleine Carroll, the first Hitchcock blonde.  I love the feisty personality, and her ability to match Hannay word for word- their banter is just perfect.
Hannay: Now let’s make ourselves as comfortable as possible. What about that skirt of yours? It’s still pretty damp, you know. I don’t want to be tied to a pneumonia case on top of everything else. Take it off. I don’t mind.
Pamela: I’ll leave it on, thank you…My shoes and stockings are soaked so I think I’ll take them off.
Hannay: That’s the first sensible thing I’ve heard you say.

As much as I do adore North By Northwest, I do feel this film is somewhat superior. It just has something about it that makes it intriguing. Maybe it just has so many “moments” that make me say both “Awww” and “Ahhh!” at the same time or maybe it’s the fact it’s a British… Hitchcock… Film. Or maybe it’s this scene…

(dvdtalk.com)

Maybe this one????

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The Famous Train Scene!   (The 1000 Frames of The 39 Steps Hitchcock Project )
OR perhaps I love this film so much because it’s this film introduces the world to the most famous Hitchcockian element, “The MacGuffin”. WHAT IS The 39 Steps? Who are they? What do they need? And what makes them so dangerous???? Well.. I’ll tell you, you see they are….