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Rear Window (Collector's Edition)
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None of Hitchcock's films has ever given a clearer view of his genius for suspense than Rear Window. When professional photographer J.B. "Jeff" Jeffries (James Stewart) is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg, he becomes obsessed with watching the private dramas of his neighbors play out across the courtyard. When he suspects a salesman may have murdered his nagging wife, Jeffries enlists the help of his glamorous socialite girlfriend (Grace Kelly) to investigate the highly suspicious chain of events… Events that ultimately lead to one of the most memorable and gripping endings in all of film history.
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I must say after seeing an advance copy of this film that Rear Window looks incredible, especially compared to the Laser Disc copy I have as well as the poor copies that have been showing up on television and VHS over the years.
The colors are vibrant, in particular the reds which don't give a hint of bleeding into the frame, and the image looks I imagine as close to the original as possible given the fact that this film is almost fifty years old now.
The aspect ratio is 1.66:1 which is the proper framing for this film, the sound is the original mono soundtrack and has been scrubbed up to remove any audio imperfections that have built up over the years.
Also included on this disc is a 55 minute documentary titled, Rear Window Ethics:Remembering a Hitchock Classic which is quite enjoyable.
There is a still frame gallery, a shorter documentary with the screenwriter John Michael Hayes, as well as the standard fare of biographies, filomgraphies etc.
All in all a quite impressive package and should be of interest to any Hitchcock fan as well as Cinema fans in general.
Jefferies' neighborhood is one that simply invites a voyeur. He simply looks out the rear window across a quadrangle lot into the windows and lives of perfect strangers. One is a lonely woman, another a frustrated songwriter, a retired couple and their dog, newlyweds, a sculptor, a dancer, and finally a traveling salesman who has a nagging, invalid of a wife.
Our voyeur can only surmise the private going-ons of his subjects, but he studies them intensely. The audience is also drawn to his watching, and with Jefferies, they draw the same conclusions.
Jefferies focused observations of his neighbors is contrasted by his lack of introspection. He is desperately courted by Lisa, played by none other than Grace Kelly but he is unable to commit to such a woman. Instead he pushes her away.
One evening something happens that make him suspect that there has been a murder-and the hitherto beached man of action rapidly starts to search for clues and bring others into his project of bringing the suspect, Lars Thorvald (Raymond Burr) to justice. As the movie progresses the people Jefferies watches begin to have intensifying personal troubles that parallel Jefferies troubles in search for the truth. In an ironic twist, Jefferies feelings for Lisa only surface when he sees her through the Rear Window.
The movie is packed with a tremendous sense of danger, sexual tension, and gore of murder but these things are subtly hinted at and are carefully wrapped in a movie set of artistic beauty. In different viewings this movie's thick detail can be enjoyed differently each time. The first time you watch, the suspense is overwhelming, the second Jefferies bone-headed stubbornness can only be marveled at, finally you can feel sympathy for Thorvald-who almost brakes free from a terrible, grating burden only to be stopped by a man of action in a wheel chair.
That is exactly what Jeffries is. Jeffries (James Stewart) is a wheelchair-bound photographer who spends his time cooped up in his apartment, peeping in on the neighbours across the courtyard. He comes up with "names" for them; Miss Torso the ballerina; Miss Lonely-Hearts; The Newly-Weds and so on. His only contact with the outside world is his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and his wisecracking nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter).
Unknowlingly witnessing the murder of Mrs Thorwald, he, along with Lisa and Stella, set out to expose the truth about Mr Thorwald (Raymond Burr) and uncover the mystery of her quick disapperance.
A beautifully-restored print by James Katz and Robert Harris (also responsible for the beautiful new renderings of MY FAIR LADY and VERTIGO), is the highlight of this DVD. The original negative was severely faded and turning green when Universal aqquired the entire Paramount film library. Color-correction and shadow detail are now back to their original state, as is the soundtrack featuring Franz Waxman's sparkling score.
The ULTIMATE Hitchcock thriller, with more than a touch of romance and comedy.
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