‘Rear Window’ Showed Hitchcock’s Rare Complex View of Femininity

In 1954, Elizabeth II has simply been topped, I Love Lucy has hit the small display screen, and the invention of business frozen meals idiot husbands into believing they’ll cook dinner. It’s a society the place ladies are part of the workforce however preserve a need for marriage. The males are on board with these adjustments….for probably the most half. If you get pleasure from this sort of stress, Alfred Hitchock’s Rear Window is your catnip. On the floor a thriller about voyeurism in each the thematic and tutorial sense (movie theorist Laura Mulvey frequently invokes the movie to elucidate the idea of “The Male Gaze”), there may be additionally no denying its commentary on the New Woman as a supply of battle. This is especially pertinent for the wheelchair certain L.B Jefferies (James Stewart), who spends the primary half of the movie being snide in the direction of his girlfriend, Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly). It’s not till he realizes she is as a lot of yenta as he’s, that it turns into clear there may be extra to her than costly attire and name-dropping: inside these $1,100 clothes stands a morbid Nancy Drew who opens his eyes to the truth that an curiosity in Harper’s Bazaar can coexist with being a pervert.

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To recommend Rear Window is a feminist movie, or that Hitchcock was merely a balding Gloria Steinem could be a troublesome promote. Yet there are glimmers of a hope in each the reversal of conventional roles between Jefferies and Fremont, in addition to the insistence that there’s a couple of kind of lady on the earth, and that Jefferies’ insistence that marriage is a by-product of nagging is just one of many potentialities.

Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont

First, let’s face the truth that Jefferies is a little bit of an imbecile. “Where does a girl have to go before you’ll notice her?” purrs Grace Kelly, universally accepted as probably the most lovely lady on the earth. “If she’s pretty enough, she doesn’t have to go anywhere,” he replies, presumably suffering from glaucoma as well as the broken leg. Perhaps his vision is skewered by assumptions about the values of his model/socialite girlfriend, who makes an effort to bring him dinner, but not to read the room; upon entering his grubby apartment, Fremont flits around making an exhibition of turning on lamps and commenting on the hectic day she has had: a dash to the Waldorf “for a quick drink with Madame Dufresne”, a lunch with the glitterati of Harper’s Bazaar, adopted by cocktails with a Hollywood producer and his socialite spouse. Immobile and a far cry from his regular life as an motion photographer, it’s little surprise Jefferies is a bit tetchy upon Miss Thing swanning in to regale him together with her full diary. But he has discovered a option to go the time — utilizing a long-focus digicam lens to spy on the neighbors, and enduring visits from his nurse, Stella (Thelma Ritter).

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The reality of the matter is that Lisa Fremont is just not the frivolous good-time-girl he imagines. Running from one occasion to the following is all in a day’s work for the lady who, between these glamorous-but-business-related engagements additionally makes the time to rearrange, pay, and tip for her man’s meals. A lady constantly providing alternatives and contacts in a determined bid to make him proud of life, and together with her. Despite these considerate shows, Jefferies stays passive and irritable, although it’s apparent that he wants her greater than she does him. Maybe it’s this data that feeds into his resentment. Sure, she’s a cosmopolitan woman with cosmopolitan tastes, and subsequently he’s fairly proper to imagine she is ill-equipped for his lifetime of consuming fish-heads and dwelling out of 1 suitcase.

But Fremont protests, “I don’t care what you do for a living, I’d just like to be a part of it somehow.” Better yet, she can get him lucrative photographic work at the most prestigious magazines, “handsome and successful in a dark blue flannel suit.” But he’s just not that kinda guy. After serving a perfect dinner and stoically deflecting his continual underhand jibes, she takes her leave with a sunken heart and assassinated character. Not one to let bad juju remain in the apartment, Jefferies suddenly wonders about keeping things “status quo.” Whether his thoughts refer to civilized greetings in the street or a wish to both own and consume his proverbial cake is unclear, but Fremont refuses to play ball. “With no future?”, she inquires one final time. For Jefferies, marriage means “rushin’ home to a hot apartment to listen to the automatic laundry and the electric dishwasher and the garbage disposal, the nagging wife,” and this simply will not do for our ironically inert man of action. “When am I gonna see you again?” he asks sheepishly after his deluge of snide. Fremont refrains from going full Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, and tearfully explains that it gained’t be for a very long time…or fairly “not till tomorrow evening.”

However, regardless of her love being stronger than the need to chop to wheel Jefferies out the window, Lisa is the movie’s most lively and highly effective character. She is unbiased, is aware of what she desires, and refuses to entertain Jefferies’ nervousness about ladies. She exists as proof that they not reside in a fight boot or Vogue world, and is as able to getting her fingers soiled as she is of spending cash. Throughout the movie, Fremont embodies a variety of roles with out ever sacrificing her essence: supersleuth and intercourse image, she is a wily go-getter who scales balconies, stays cool within the face of hazard, and is more than pleased to rock up uninvited with solely a négligée and the announcement that she will probably be staying the evening.

Mercifully, Jefferies begins rising mind cells, and notices his gal possesses the smarts to match the financial institution steadiness. And all it took was her risking her life. Naww. Whether Lisa ‘develops’ her grittier facet or it has been there all alongside is a moot level. Jefferies is seeing her anew, maybe in the identical approach Hitchcock seen the best lady: beatific, self-sufficient, and, as Edward White suggests in The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock, “with entry to mysterious reserves of intuition and instinct.”

The Ladies Across the Street

As Lisa supersedes his expectations, so do the ladies exterior his house; characters who had been one dimensional window dressing are abruptly imbued with story and depth. Miss Torso (Georgine Darcy), is first seen via Jefferies’ eyes as ballet dancing eye-candy, “a queen bee together with her choose of the drones.” Greater observation (and input from Lisa) forces him to realize that she is “doing a woman’s hardest job — juggling wolves.” And then there’s Miss Lonely Hearts (Judith Evelyn), a middle-aged singleton in search of a accomplice. Jefferies watches as she performs at having suitors for dinner, pouring an additional glass of wine and chatting with an empty chair. To Jefferies, the sight is each uncomfortable and pathetic, however develops into one thing extra advanced as he witnesses her rising loneliness, undesirable advances, and a choice that suicide is her solely escape from isolation.

And Then There’s Stella…

And after all there’s Stella. Practical, no-nonsense, unconcerned with appearances and more than pleased to name a spade a spade, or within the case of Jefferies, a person an fool. “I’ll unfold slightly commonsense on that bread,” she states, mocking him for his dismissal of Lisa, all the while taking the prospect of murder in her stride. With the constitution of a rhino, speculation about the dismembering of bodies and the extent of blood splatter is simply “what we’re all thinking.”

In the top, it’s Stella and Lisa who develop into the movie’s dynamic duo, teaming as much as hunt for clues whereas Jefferies watches on. By this stage a modified man, he does so in awe fairly than impotence.

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