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Hitchcock's 'Rear Window' brings its strange-neighbor plot back to the big screen

Updated on March 18, 2015

Facing a deadly puzzle

Grace Kelly and James Stewart get caught up in the strange activities of a neighbor in "Rear Window" (1954).
Grace Kelly and James Stewart get caught up in the strange activities of a neighbor in "Rear Window" (1954). | Source

Acclaimed piece of cinema still enthralls

The subject of peeping in on others is the basic theme of “Rear Window” -- Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 gem about checking out the neighbors. That pastime creates unexpected, and frightening, results.
James Stewart, playing photojournalist L.B. Jeffries, is bored and bound to a wheelchair with a broken leg.
Using binoculars, he kills time checking out the goings-on at other courtyard apartments by peering through the back window of his place.
That is the premise of an enduring thriller that is returning to the big screen in the United States.
“Rear Window” will be shown in almost 600 select movie theaters nationwide at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. local time on Sunday, March 22, and Wednesday, March 25.
James Stewart’s cinematic charisma is a key attraction, said Wes Gehring, a film professor at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.
“I think he’s that everyman figure that people kind of relate to,” said Gehring, a prolific author of movie-related books which have dealt with film icons such as Steve McQueen, James Dean and Charlie Chaplin.
“TCM Presents: Rear Window” is presented by Colorado-based Fathom Events, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Boasting a clean look, “Rear Window” has been digitally remastered for “premium picture and sound quality,” according to a press release from Fathom Events. The presentation will be accompanied by an introduction from TCM host Ben Mankiewicz.
Gehring noted he has shown the movie in classes and at a seminar.
“It still holds up with my college kids; it always elicits positive response,” said Gehring, who holds the title of distinguished professor of telecommunications at Ball State.
Also starring Hollywood legend Grace Kelly as Stewart’s girlfriend, “Rear Window” takes audiences on a chilling ride.
Stewart’s character gets pulled into the mystery of whether he’s been watching a seemingly mild-mannered neighbor who has managed to kill his wife and gruesomely dispose of her body.
“ ‘Rear Window’ is the ultimate thriller from Hitchcock, and there is no better way to view it than on the big screen with fellow film lovers,” said John Rubey, chief executive officer of Fathom Events.
In the film, Jeffries’ most intriguing sight is someone who appears to be an unassuming traveling salesman.
The salesman has an unhealthy wife with a propensity to nag.
But one day he pulls down his window shade, and her vocal ranting stops.
Jeffries envisions foul play, and “Rear Window” shifts into high gear.
“There is kind of a creepy feeling to it,” Gehring said. “It sucks you in.”
Gehring said viewers can readily relate to Jeffries’ voyeuristic activities because he is trying to pass time while cooped up in a sweltering apartment during an era when home air conditioning was not a taken-for-granted convenience.
“Since you like Jimmy Stewart -- and he’s bored out of his mind -- it makes you kind of attach yourself to him,” the professor said.
Gehring also believes “Rear Window” -- and another Hitchcock film -- provide insight into the vaunted director.
“I think ‘Rear Window’ and ‘Vertigo’ are the two films that most kind of reveal more of Hitchcock than meets the eye initially,” he surmised.
For a list of theaters showing “Rear Window,” visit: http://www.fathomevents.com/#event/rear-window/more-info/theater-locations

An American Film Institute favorite

Generally considered one of Alfred Hitchcock's best directorial efforts, "Rear Window" tackled the subject of secretly watching people.
Generally considered one of Alfred Hitchcock's best directorial efforts, "Rear Window" tackled the subject of secretly watching people. | Source

Timeless appeal

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