This being Valentine’s week and all…
I’d never thought of Hitchcock’s 1954 production of Rear Window as a Romance.
What I recalled was Jimmy Stewart laid up with a broken leg spying on the antics of his neighbours while Grace Kelly pranced in and out of his apartment wearing a season of new frocks.
After hearing a blood curdling scream from the apartment opposite Stewart deduces that Raymond Burr, aka Perry Mason in another life, has murdered and chopped up his wife, maybe- and Stewart tries to convince his detective friend to investigate. Stewart is, of course, spot on- as always.
A Mystery-Thriller was the genre I recollected
But a recent viewing threw me off kilter- Rear Window is a lot more about love than I remembered.
Jeff (Stewart) thinks that Lisa (Kelly) is too perfect for him (Well, she probably was and sure she married a real prince in real life)
He being an adventurous photographer who lived life in the outback carrying his possessions in a back pack and she being a society gal.
And as if to reinforce his view- discord in love is all around him. There’s Miss Lonely Heart in the basement who prepares candle lit meals for an imaginary lover, Miss Torso who flirts with everyone but is partial to none, the newly weds whose romance is beginning to unravel and the Thorvalds who bicker and squawk until he finally chops off her head.
Unrequited love, romantic love, doomed love, absent love, tragic love, love gone astray….
Meanwhile Lisa is the main initiator of any intimate exchanges with Jeff, climbing all over the invalid, bestowing kisses in an attempt to seduce him with her overnight case and silk negligée. Which Jeff, strangely enough, ignores-
To win his love she has to do the heroines’ journey. Do battle with the hag and enter the mouth of the dragon.
And so Grace Kelly, replete with crinoline petticoated billowy skirt and stiletto heels, negotiates high perpendicular ladders and iron railed balconies, does hand to hand combat with the murder suspect, is nearly strangled by the villain of the piece and is finally arrested by the cops for her trouble- Some lengths to go to prove her marital compatibility!
Thankfully all ends well and the last shot in the film is of our Girl Friday wearing the trousers, designer though they may be, reading her copy of Bazaar, while he sleeps like a baby.
It’s Amore is the final score
Miss lonely Heart finds a real lover and Miss Torso welcomes home her pint sized partner.
The woman has conformed to the man’s ideal of what makes a perfect wife, risking her life albeit in the attempt... hardly a token to equality between the sexes despite her designer slacks.
A lot of fun nonetheless.