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“A wheelchair-bound professional photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window, and is convinced one of them has committed a murder.” (via IMDB)
So I got this hankering, a real itch, to watch a movie the other night. I love watching classic films from the 1950s & 60s, but it’s hard to find movies made before the 1970s in a streaming format on the Internet. Sure, it’s much easier to buy a DVD & watch it on the home TV, but first of all, who watches DVDs anymore now that there are such outlets like: Netflix, Crackle, Hulu, & On Demand cable listings? Secondly, who has the time to buy DVDs and convert their formats into tablet compatible video files? Mostly, I enjoy the convenience of watching from my portable device, so I can do things like take a shower & watch my movie at the same time.
It really is hard to find Classic films to rent & stream or to buy & download on the Internet. Before Netflix took it off their streaming list, I’ve probably stream-watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s at least a dozen times or so…To Catch a Thief, perhaps half a dozen or more times, all while working out at the gym (or soaking in the bath tub, again). I rented Rear Window the other night on my tablet, & it just brought back to my mind all of the reasons why this movie is arguably my most favorite film of all-time. These are a few of the movie genres I like: Mystery, Romance, & Action & Adventure. This movie had all three genres rolled into one. There were thrills & suspense without the movie being overly predictable & corny. After all, this IS an iconic Alfred Hitchcock film.
I’ve always enjoyed the fine acting of James “Jimmy” Stewart, & of course, Grace Kelly. Of course, who doesn’t love director Alfred Hitchcock? He has directed several of my favorite films (i.e. To Catch a Thief, North By Northwest, The Man Who Knew Too Much, & The Birds). I won’t remember Jimmy Stewart from the film It’s a Wonderful Life, as I haven’t seen the film in its entirety, but I’ll always remember him in this film Rear Window & in The Man Who Knew Too Much (since I saw the latter film in high school for a class assignment). I’ve also mistakenly seen the 1990s Christopher Reeve remake of this film, & it could never compare with the original. What a disaster the 90s remake was! At least I didn’t have to pay even a cent to watch that movie, it was such a flop in my book. The original version of Rear Window is so timeless; I could watch this movie a hundred more times & not get sick of it.
Jimmy Stewart’s character L.B. Jeffries would make a great detective if he ever decided to give up his photography career. I love how he uses his camera equipment to take a closer look into the lives of his fellow apartment neighbors. Let’s see, we’ve got the older couple with the friendly dog who pulls their mattress onto their balcony every night to sleep, the aspiring ballet/Broadway dancer, the newlywed couple who always keeps their shades drawn, the music composer who’s run out of inspiration, the bohemian art sculptor who likes to sunbathe in the afternoons, Ms. Lonelyhearts…the single woman who is so desperate for a man that she makes them up or picks up guys from bars. Then you have the most famous neighbor of them all, Mr. Thorwald, the costume jewelry salesman with a nagging invalid wife who begins to act suspiciously upon the sudden disappearance of his wife.
I get such a thrill stepping into the shoes of Jimmy Stewart’s character, spying on my neighbors in an act of pure voyeurism. It’s so naughty, yet so fun to snoop on the neighbor’s living around you. Maybe it’s because Jian always says I like to snoop on my neighbors. He makes fun of me about this all the time. I don’t like to say that I’m snooping per-sé, but, I will embellish my answer by saying I am a glorified “neighborhood watchman”. I do like to know what’s going on in my neighborhood, so that I can be prepared in case of emergencies and natural disasters. Therefore, it’s not really being nosy or snooping. However, there are times when Jian & I are walking around the major city center & I will sometimes peek into apartments with large windows…not because I’m a pervert or a voyeur, but because I like to see how others decorate their own homes. I have a mild interest in home decorating & often watch home improvement programs on the HGTV & FYI channels.
OK, let’s get back to talking about the movie. I sometimes wish I could be as observant as Jimmy Stewart’s character L.B. Jeffries, taking mental notes about my interesting & colorful neighbors. This brings up old memories of when I was a young tween, reading the classic children’s book Harriet The Spy (I’ve also seen the 1990s movie starring Gossip Girl actress Michelle Trachtenberg). Oh man, when I was a young teenager I really, really, really wanted to be just like the character Harriet The Spy. I even started collecting notebooks just so I could write down everything I observed. I wanted to roam the city streets, sneak through dirty alleyways behind Chinatown, make friends with the local butcher & delivery truck guy, use my binoculars to peek through grimy back alley windows, & write down everything I see around me. I believe I’ve somewhat achieved that goal. I’ve got this blog after all. Now, I don’t want to ever discover a murder crime scene, or anything gruesome like that, but it would be a little cool to learn more about my neighbors quirky habits & getting to know them.
You know one thing’s for sure, Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s would not much care for L.B. Jeffries from this film. You know why? Because just as Ms. Golightly said to Paul Varjak just as he woke her from a nightmare, “Let’s get one thing straight. I hate snoops!” (You see! That shows just how many times I’ve seen ‘B at T’s’! I can quote parts of the movie off the top of my head.) Speaking of lead female characters, let’s chat a little bit about Grace Kelly’s utterly fabulous character Lisa Carol Fremont. Oh, how I truly admire a strong female such as she! A woman who knows her own mind, knows what she wants, & works hard at getting it, even if it comes in the form of a stubborn wheelchair-bound photographer who thinks she’s too good for him. It does not matter to Lisa that she’s an upper crust socialite & L.B. is a blue-collar guy who sticks his neck out for a smashing photograph. She’s in love with him, & she works hard to prove it to him: providing him a gourmet lobster dinner, warm after-dinner brandy, & one overnight bag carrying only the essentials a girl would need to stay the night at her lover’s apartment. Lisa also takes care of L.B., not only attending to his everyday needs while he is confined to that damed wheelchair, but she really gives him loads of TLC…ahem, plenty of kissing. Like I said before, she is a woman who knows her own mind. Lisa practically immediately believes L.B.’s claims that his across-the-way neighbor has been acting very bizarrely, ever since the invalid wife’s disappearance. She helps him in any way to gather evidence against the suspicious neighbor, helping him sort through crazy theories, & even providing a woman’s perspective with her “Women’s Intuition”. Lisa is quite brave sneaking off to the neighbor’s apartment in the middle of the night to snoop around for clues. That show how much in love & devoted she is to Mr. Grumpy Wheelchair Guy.
The other lead female character in this movie should also not be overlooked. Thelma Ritter’s character Stella, the insurance company’s home-care nurse, is also one of my favorite characters from the movie. Stella provides the quick wit & sharp humor that cuts through the thick tension throughout this film. She’s always trying to push L.B. to move his relationship forward with Lisa, never mincing her words. Hey, she’s a maladjusted misfit who’s been happily married to her other maladjusted misfit for years, so she knows a thing a two about love. The only way to get her wedding ring would be to chop off her finger. I think Stella needs to spread a little more common sense on L.B.’s sandwiches from now on. I really think Thelma Ritter was nicely cast for this role. I haven’t seen too many of her movies, but I still quite enjoy her acting. Her most notable acting role that I can remember was Alma the loveable, eavesdropping, drunk housekeeper in the film Pillow Talk, starring Doris Day, Rock Hudson, & Tony Randall. She also provided much needed dry wit & sharp humor in that film as well.
One thing I really loved about this movie is that it was all entirely filmed in one sound stage. Everything was pretty much shot in the infamous apartment of L.B. Jeffries. No grand location shoots or car chase scenes, just one beautifully designed apartment. Oh, how I just adore the architecture & home decor of the 1950s & 60s!! What was considered Contemporary back then is now considered Mid-Century Modern nowadays. Well, I now live in an Eichler home, so I guess that influenced my love of Mid-Mod decor. I’ve always dreamed of living in a downtown city apartment decorated just like L.B.’s in the film. So, when I lived in my own apartment for a time, I felt so happy & content. I was really proud of & loved cleaning my apartment everyday & finding new ways to decorate it. If only I had an unlimited budget, then I would’ve surely decorated my apartment to look very Mid-Century Modern. I’m not sure how much Jian would’ve approved, but I would’ve been over the moon. I amazes me that the entire movie was filmed in such a small apartment complex, & yet there was so much action going on within the storyline. Each apartment neighbor provided their own little side story, which made the film seem like more & feel much bigger than it actually was.
And lastly, we shall conclude with the main character who really, truly, utterly stole the show within this movie…Grace Kelly’s masterpiece of a Chanel haute couture dress! I long to one day have a stunning figure like Grace Kelly. She’s not only tall & svelte, but she’s got just the perfect amount of feminine curves to give her a sensual aura. Her hair is always perfectly styled with not a stray hair out of place, & she never wears overly done-up makeup, only enough to accentuate her glorious femininity. No one can ever pull off wearing such a glamorous dress, except maybe Audrey Hepburn, if everyday was a Funny Face kind of day & Fred Astaire was your personal photographer & love interest. Just look at how stunning the actress AND the dress look…and I will end it at that. Cheers!
Today’s song of the day:
“Hoops” by The Rubens