Monday, April 4, 2011

Rear Window (1954) at the Brattle

Can you believe that I have missed TWO opportunities to watch Rear Window (1954) on the big screen? Due to inclement weather and a too-busy schedule, chances to see my favorite Hitchcock film in a proper theatre passed me by. Like a hungry lion, I pounced on this opportunity like it was an injured Wildebeest. Rrrraawwwrr!

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, Carlos and I headed to Harvard Square to see Rear Window at the Brattle. Now I've talked about the Brattle, many many times before, but in case you are not familiar with the theatre, it's a non-profit repertory house which showcases classic films, independent cinema and cult favorites. It's impossible to look at their monthly calendar and not find a few films that you would want to watch on the big screen. The Brattle survives solely on the basis of their regular patrons, members and generous donors and they are always trying to drum up more support for their theatre. So if you are ever in the Boston area and you love classic films, please support this theatre!

Even though I own a copy of Rear Window (1954) on DVD, it's been quite a while since I have seen it. So watching it on the big screen after a considerable time has past since my last viewing was a great treat especially because it reminded me how many things I love about this movie. How, even though it's a thriller, I find it enjoyable than most murder mysteries because the focus is on the characters and plot development rather than on gore, action and jump scares. Besides, Rear Window has a lot of witty and funny moments. Thelma Ritter (Stella) has some great witticisms and shares no-nonsense romantic advice with Jimmy Stewart (Jeff) whether he wants to listen to it or not. Plus we can't help be amused by Jeff's observations on neighbors such as Miss Torso (the scantily clad dancer) and the pair of amorous Newlyweds (Harry?! Oh Harry...). And we get some sad moments as we see the isolation some of the neighbors face including Miss Lonelyhearts and Songwriter. Oh and then there is Lisa Freemont (Grace Kelly). We feel for her. All her wealth and beauty can't buy her the love she so desperately wants. In order to win Jeff's affections, she needs to showcase her adventurous side. How great it is that a woman has to woo a man with her adventurous spirit and taste for danger rather than her physical appearance?! One of the things I forgot about the film was how annoying Wendell Corey is as the detective who just doesn't believe Jeff's suspicions about the murdering husband (Raymond Burr). I just wanted to smack him for being such a schmuck!

The movie house was packed with folks when we got there at 2:30 (half an hour before the show started!). I was really worried that the audience reaction was going to be negative. You know the deal. Laughs at inappropriate moments. Whispers of judgement. However, this audience was absolutely quiet. We all got sucked into the story immediately and the only laughter came at the parts that were genuinely supposed to be funny. In fact, I think Carlos and I laughed the most because there were so many great witty lines, sexually suggestive scenes and novelty moments (such as the famous Hitchcock cameo). At the end of the film, the audience applauded. I am always so happy when that happens. 

This experience has encouraged both Carlos and I to do a few things this summer: 1) visit the Brattle more often and perhaps become members, 2) watch more Hitchcock films, including ones we haven't seen 3) spend more time in Harvard Square. Thank you Brattle for giving me this opportunity to watch my favorite Hitchcock film on the big screen!


  1. Sounds like a wonderful experience. That's one I've yet to see on a big screen. Glad you had the opportunity!! It was a great weekend for moviegoing on both coasts. :)

    Best wishes,

  2. Fantastic news about your getting to see Rear Window on the big screen. I got to see it in a theater, too, down in Savannah, GA when they re-released it in 1984 and it was one of the most memorable moviegoing experiences of my life.

  3. It's also great in Rear Window how the point of view remains strictly to what Jimmy Stewart can see from his apartment. This was an excellent stylistic choice that really ratchets up the suspense. One of his best for sure. Love it.

  4. Having seen Rear Window on the big screen, I have to say it one of those films that must be seen in the cinema! There is so much to this film (verbally and visually) that even a widescreen telly can't contain it.

  5. how crazy, i watched Rear Window LAST NIGHT, lol! but i did get to see it once on the big screen at trintity college in hartford Ct many years ago too, and yes it was a treat especially to see the never more ravishing Grace Kelly in that intro close up *sigh* but that film is a masterpiece from first frame to last.
    i couldnt agree with you more Quele with what you said about the character development and screenplay, its sharp as a tack and is delivered with such style and class by all! Rear Window is one of those examples of a film maker and everyone working with him at the absolute top of their game that's for sure.
    Rear Window is one of those films that changed my life. when i saw it for the first time around age 18 i instantly became obsessed with ,seeing as many of his movies as i could and reading about him in various books, watching documentaries, etc etc, he is a fascinating artist no doubt! but my interest in his work led to many many other fine films and filmakers, it was really a pivotal experience for me as a film lover. your comments about wendell corey made me laugh! i like his cynical ornery characterization but i can see how he might get on someones nerves, lol. in Kirk Douglas' auto bio he mentions how corey pretty much hated him and had been known to make anti-semetic remarks about him to people at times yet when he died Corey's wife asked kirk to give his eulogy, so go figure?!?! sorry for babbling, great post, and very glad you finally got to see this exceedingly great film on the big screen!

  6. Laura - It's wonderful that we both got to see great films on different sides of the country! And that we have these outlets in which to share the experience. (I know I'm being sappy but I can't help it).

    Ivan! - How happy I am to see you here. I can see why Rear Window was memorable for you. Can I ask, when they re-released it in 1984, did they add a missing scene?

    Jonny - Oh yeah! Great point. We don't need to be anywhere else except for Jimmy Stewart's apartment. I love that sort of restriction in stories. It allows for a lot more creativity.

    Terry - Absolutely! Every classic film fan must see it in the theater. MUST!

    Paulie - Woah! You are blowing my mind. We are kindred spirits for sure. And yes there is nothing quite so breathtaking as the beautiful Grace Kelly larger than life. Wow. I didn't know that about Wendell Corey. Now he seems like even more of a schmuck.

  7. The moment I loved most when I saw Rear Window on the big screen was when Raymond Burr was sitting in the dark looking across the courtyard. You could actually see the orange light on his cigarette! I never saw that on the small screen. It still gives me chills to think about it. I usually watch movies at home, but nothing beats a good big screen experience.

  8. Hello, a brand new blog follower here! Just wanted to comment on your second to-do item: me and a friend have an ongoing project to watch Hitchcock's films in chronological order. I don't own all of them, but about half of his silent output and every sound film available on DVD except "Juno and the Paycock" and "Number Seventeen" should be a sufficient sample. :) It's been a highly interesting experience seeing both the director and cinema itself evolve. We're up to "Psycho" now.

  9. I love this film. Like you, I'm taken with the characters.

    The kiss Grace Kelly plants on Jimmy Stewart may be the best in film history!

  10. Rear Window is one of the few classic movies I've been able to see on the big screen. It's one of my favorite Hitchock movies and I also got to see it with a friend who was seeing it for the first time, so it was a really fun experience. Although I was a bit jealous of her to be honest. :-P The Brattle sounds awesome and I wish there was a theater like that closer to me.

  11. It is thrilling to see a favorite classic movie on the big screen! I've been lucky enough to experience Gone With the Wind, Citizen Kane, Psycho and Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Opera that way. It's incredible the detail of the setting that you cannot see on TV, and as one of you commenters said, something as simple as the glowing end of a cigarette gets lost. On the big screen, everything just pops, and the movie is a whole new experience.

    Great post, Raquelle!

  12. What the hell? What's with the "window tinting" comment? Did an ad somehow sneak onto your site?


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