Howdy all, another busy weekend and week and didn’t get this post up on the actual anniversary, so here it is a few days late! August 1st 1954, Paramount Pictures released one of my all time favorite movies, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”, starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Raymond Burr, Thelma Ritter, and Wendell Corey. Surprisingly, the score is by Franz Waxman instead of Hitch’s usual Bernard Herrmann. The production and sets were built & filmed on Stage 18, the same set used for Deep Space 9 and also the home of the bridge, shuttlebays and corridors for ST Enterprise. 18 is really not that big of a set, and looking at what they had to do to fit in an entire apartment complex in this space is quite remarkable.
From the film’s point of view, you have Jimmy Stewart’s apartment set which looks across a courtyard to a 4 sided multi level apartment setting with an alleyway that crosses a street with yet a resturaunt set beyond that. A massive amount of depth and forced perspectives were used to create as much of a controlled but natural looking location as possible. To add depth to the set, Henry Bumsted ( the Art Director) had the brilliant idea to pull the floor from the stage and use the basement below the floor as the courtyard., So Stewart’s second level apartment was actually at floor level and the open basement made it appear to be on the second floor.. A masterful use of space and some awesome craftsmanship went into detailing all the individual apartments and basically every inch of the set to make the environment as believable as possible. The film starts out with the camera looking out of Stewart’s apartment to give you the lay of the land. The camera returns to show Stewart asleep in a wheelchair with a full length leg cast. The camera continues to travel around the room, and through the artifacts in his room you discover that he is a photographer that got a broken leg by taking a picture of two crashed race cars flying his way. Trapped in his room, he becomes familiar with what all of the neighbors are up to, and by chance he believes he is a witness to a murder and has to prove his hunch. One by one, those he has contact with fall for his claims, and they all have their own ideas and theories of what and why a man would kill his wife…and then find a way to get rid of the body. The only one not convinced is Stewart’s close and thorough detective friend. Not to give anything away, you’re in for a ride full of suspense and twists as only Hitch can do. This one is a must see! Hitchcock only leaves the confines of the apartment briefly for a few shots, as the film is primarily shot from one set.
I saw this one when I was about 16, and I was glued to the TV set for the whole film. Still young at heart, my biggest crush at the time was for the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio…that was until I saw Grace Kelly and then everything was different. Grace is probably one of the most beautiful women that has ever graced the silver screen and she appeared in Hitchcock’s next film, “To Catch a Thief”. Jimmy Stewart is also an all time favorite, and together they are magical on screen. A lot of under stories take place and you get to know all of Stewart’s neighbors as the main story builds, all of which is wrapped around a single musical composition that is being written by the piano playing neighbor next door. Rear Window is yet another brilliant masterpiece by Alfred Hitchcock. This one is a must see and a keeper as well! I went out and bought it on VHS when I got my first job, then got it on laser disc, and then a couple of copies on DVD…Paramount is still making money off of me for this one. HAAA!