Matthew Phillips – Copy Editor
It’s Friday evening. You’re sitting at home, staring at your television/laptop/cell phone. Your brain is fried after another grueling week of school. All you want is to be entertained, for a few hours to float away into another world. But what on earth to watch?
The endless struggle begins anew.
Like many college students, looking at the weekend box office and gambling your hard-earned money on a subpar movie is often a disheartening experience.
There are streaming services – Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and the like – but you know you will just spend two hours clicking through options before watching reruns of “Friends” or “The Office” for the umpteenth time.
I propose an alternative.
Welcome to Friday Film Reviews. Each week, I will review one movie, all of which are free to borrow from the Clark College library. Throughout this series, I aim to cover a wide variety of films from all genres, filmmakers, countries and backgrounds.
To begin, I will be focusing on iconic pre-1970s films that still stand the test of time. Sadly, these classic films have not made the jump to streaming services as easily as newer movies, due to a lack of public interest.
My first pick is a personal favorite and one of the first “old” movies that opened my eyes to the emotional power of cinematic storytelling.
1954. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, Raymond Burr
“Rear Window” stars Jimmy Stewart as L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies, a professional photographer who is stuck in his apartment while he recovers from a broken leg. To pass the time, Jeff looks out the window into the courtyard behind his apartment, peering into the lives of all his neighbors.
All goes well, until he hears the neighbor across the way, Thorwald, and his wife having a fight, after which the wife is mysteriously absent. After a series of suspicious actions, Jeff becomes convinced that Thorwald murdered his wife and sets out to prove it, assisted by his socialite girlfriend Lisa, played by Grace Kelly.
As the duo come closer to uncovering the truth, the stakes are raised. If Thorwald is a murderer, what lengths will he go to protect his secret? The suspense is raised to new heights during a climactic confrontation between Lisa and Thorwald, while Jeff can only helplessly look on from afar.
In an age of action-thrillers in which every hero must save the world, “Rear Window” is a nice return to a mystery with low stakes in comparison. Despite this, we become engrossed in these characters’ lives and want to see how they fare.
Throughout the movie, we are shown the world from Jeff’s limited perspective, so when Lisa confronts Thorwald at the end, we feel Jeff’s helplessness as our own. At a crucial moment, Jeff’s attention is drawn elsewhere and the camera shifts away from Lisa, leaving us desperate to know what happens next. I’ve seen this movie a number of times, but even though I know what happens, I still find myself drawn to the edge of my seat. Suffice it to say, Alfred Hitchcock was known as the “Master of Suspense” for a reason.
Like many old movies, “Rear Window” has its moments that haven’t aged as well, but for the most part the dialogue is still sharp and the acting still holds up. For those interested in a well-crafted mystery, “Rear Window” is an excellent place to start.