© 1954 Paramount Pictures

Rear Window (1954)

Every now and then, it is such a pleasure and comfort to go back and watch some of the Hitchcock classics that I have seen so many times before. Rear Window is a film I have seen so many times it feels like I have every camera angle and line of dialogue committed to memory, but still it is such a joy to watch and try to pick up fleeting facial expressions and other little details I hadn’t noticed before. In Rear Window, Hitchcock perfected the application of his theory of montage, which the first developed early in his career while studying Russian theories of editing. As Hitchcock recalled to Peter Bogdanovich years later: “you show a man, you show what he is looking at, you show his reaction,” the theory being that the audience’s interpretation of the reaction shot is colored by what is shown in the middle piece of film. This is what Hitchcock called “pure cinema,” and it is present in nearly all of his films to some degree, but Rear Window is made up almost completely of sequences like this. The bravura editing can at times overshadow the dialogue, which is also excellent, succinct and full of little Hitchcockian comedic touches. This could probably work both as a silent film or as a radio show.

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