The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 70.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

LSC presents a Hitchcock masterwork, Rear Window

Rear Window

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Written by John Michael Hayes, based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich.

Starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, and Raymond Burr.

LSC Friday.

By Stephen Brophy

When you watch a movie you are looking at people who act as if they are not aware they are being watched. You look at them through a rectangular frame, which seems like a window. Does this make you a voyeur? Alfred Hitchcock liked to play with that idea, and the most beguiling game he ever played with his audience's voyeuristic tendencies, Rear Window, will be screened tonight in 10-250 by LSC Classics.

In Rear Window James Stewart plays a photographer for Life Magazine, used to an exciting life of traveling the world to document wars and other catastrophes. He's not traveling as the movie begins though - he's immobilized in his New York City apartment with a broken leg. To keep himself from going stir crazy, he watches his neighbors across the courtyard, getting closer to them with binoculars and a telephoto lens. When visiting nurse Thelma Ritter criticizes his nosiness he blithely replies, "we've become a race of Peeping Toms - people ought to get outside and look at themselves."

When you watch people long enough without their knowing it, you will eventually see some suspicious behavior. Soon enough in Rear Window Stewart thinks he has uncovered a murder plot, and ropes in Ritter and his girlfriend, Grace Kelly, to help get the evidence.

Hitchcock deftly builds the tension by intertwining this story with those of other neighbors whose activities, while less bloody, are also pretty mysterious. By the time this film is approaching its climax you will have a hard time keeping yourself from shouting out warnings to Grace Kelly as she searches for clues in a man's apartment, and you see he is coming home.

Hitchcock directed this movie in 1954, in the middle of his most creative decade, with such other masterpieces to his credit as Strangers on a Train, Vertigo, and North by Northwest.

Rear Window was filmed entirely on one set, but you never feel a sense of claustrophobia. In its time it was the largest single set ever constructed at Universal studios, a courtyard surrounded by 31 apartments, 12 of which were completely furnished. The director had worked within self-imposed spacial limitations of this sort before, notably in Lifeboat and Rope; in this film he has perfected his skill at keeping his audience pleasurably tense. You can hardly afford not to show up at 10-250 at 7:30 tonight to see how much entertainment you can get out of one movie.

And don't forget that you can by a Classics Double Feature ticket for just $3 which gets you into Rear Window and one other movie playing this weekend. A seat will be reserved for you until 15 minutes before tonight's 10 p.m. showing of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, or you can use the ticket to see Eat, Drink, Man, Woman tomorrow night, or Harold and Maude on Sunday.