Sunday, November 12, 2006

Moments of Distinction (Hitchcock Blog-a-thon)

The Film - Rear Window - dir. Alfred Hitchcock

The Set-Up - The injured photographer L. B. Jeffries (James Stewart) has decided that his neighbour Thorwald may have killed his wife. Jeffries' girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) decides to investigate while he's away. She is trying to find the woman's wedding ring.

She climbs into his apartment....

While Jeffries watches with his telephoto lens.

The ring isn't in her purse....Gosh, she's purty!

A critical error - Jeffries is distracted by another neighbour who appears to be taking an overdose of sleeping pills.

He doesn't notice Thorwald coming home.

He calls the police.

Thorwald catches Lisa in his apartment, and starts to assault her.

He turns out the lights, but the police arrive, just in time.

As the cops question Thorwald, Lisa indicates that she has the ring.

Thorwald sees her pointing it out....

And looks across the way to see who is watching.

I apologize up front for choosing what is arguably the most obvious Hitchcock "Moment of Distinction", but I can't help it - I love this scene. I have probably seen Rear Window 8-10 times, and I get goose bumps every single time I watch this sequence.

A couple of things. Stewart is just brilliant in this scene, his panic rising as he watches the woman he loves being threatened right in front of his eyes, and he can't help her. The other thing has had volumes written about it - How Hitchcock turns the tables on Jeffries (and us) by letting him be an observer, and them suddenly thrusting him into an active role in the drama across the way. When Thorwald looks over with that icy stare, the message is clear. You're involved now, buddy.

3 comments:

LABobsterofAnaheim said...

I think you really nailed the meaning of Burr/Torvald's final look in that scene -- I interupted it the same way, but I don't think I ever put it into words so succinctly.

"Rear Window" is hands down one of my favorite movies and my favorite Hitchcock film. I'm pretty sure that just about every time I've seen this with an audience, at least one person in the theater shrieked during this scene.

Squish said...

EEEE! Exciting indeed. I remember Girlfriend of Squish saying "You stupid woman getoutgetoutgetout! What are you DOING!?!"

Brian said...

Incredible scene. The only one to come along since Hitchcock who can make my hair stand on end with just a shot of a character's face looking toward the camera is David Lynch. And even he can't manage it quite as well.