Autumn has fallen and it’s time once more to celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear. Rainestorm finishes its horror trilogy and goes to the well one last time to highlight 31 days of spooky scares that season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.
Hex cast: 1954
The charm: Rear Window may not have the slasher pedigree of Psycho, but it does boast some of the finest tension and suspense of director Alfred Hitchcock’s extensive career. Utilizing a single set and no musical score, Hitchcock delivers a higher degree of believability than most films attain on location with hand-held cinematography. The “score” to Rear Window is entirely ambient, using nothing but the sounds within the world of the movie itself: distant traffic, barking dogs, neighbors playing music, playing piano, throwing parties, etc. It works remarkably well and gives Rear Window a full-bodied aura that George Lucas would later emulate for his American Graffiti. Jimmy Stewart is roguishly charming as newspaper photographer, Jeff, who spends his days wheelchair-ridden with a cast on his leg, spying on his neighbors through the telephoto lens of his camera until he thinks he witnesses his neighbor Thorwald (Raymond Burr) commit a murder. Grace Kelly is more than a match for him as his lusty girlfriend, who at first doesn’t believe him.
The overriding them of voyeurism that forms the movie’s spine is more relevant today than ever before. Confined to virtually a single room, Jeff lives his life vicariously through those of the other tenants, and eventually he draws even his girlfriend and his nurse, Stella (the marvelous Thelma Ritter), into the affair. All of this is done with Hitchcock’s deft comedic touch and true talent for mounting suspense.
Focal point: The burning glow of Thorwald’s cigarette in his otherwise pitch black apartment.
Entrancing trivia: Virtually every shot of the film is from a point-of-view inside Jeff’s apartment.
Speak the words: “Why would Thorwald want to kill a little dog? Because it knew too much?”
Companion spell: What Lies Beneath (2000). Robert Zemeckis nakedly apes Alfred Hitchcock in this mystery/ghost story… and the result is one of the best films of the former director’s career.
Cursed by: Vertigo. An inferior film with a bewilderingly superior reputation.