Consider the motivations. As James Stewart, Grace Kelly, and Thelma Ritter investigate the disappearance (and possible murder) of their neighbor, their motive does not appear to be a sense justice or even fear (at least not at first). Instead, it’s pure, morbid, nosy curiosity about what the people around them are up to. Listen to the way the talk about the murder, hypothesizing how it must have happened. It’s a horrifying idea, yes, but they’re clearly also thrilled by it—just like, well, the audience of a Hitchcock film. It’s a fine, almost satirical subtext. Hitchcock is famous as the “master of suspense”, but he’s underrated as a comedian.
Rear Window is often regarded as one of the master’s best. It’s neither as rich nor as fun as North by Northwest and doesn’t pack the punch of Psycho. It also isn’t the dreamlike directorial coup of Vertigo (though I find that film to be a tad overrated). But it’s definitely up there. Hitchcock’s skill with visual storytelling is as strong as ever. The film is wonderfully entertaining, and the ideas of voyeurism make for a coyly blatant subtext. Anyone curious about how a film can be about murder but so much more could definitely start here.
10 out of 10.