A simple idea elegantly constructed. The tension, the silences, the antecipation, the editing, in this film is a lesson that most thrillers did not learn. Wrtting about this film, I realize why I usually dislike thrillers and their annoying storytelling. Usually they tell us where to be stressed, when to relax in such obvious ways, that it is condescending, and it doesn't work. Here, we're transported into the story.
Hitchcock's most accessible American classic may also still be his most complex. The act of peeping in this neighborhood is like flipping through channels. All these stories reek of banal television but are made memorable by Stewart's remarks (Much like The 39 Steps, Hitchcock's use of comedy elevates the material). How good is this film. It's so good that even the idiots on IMDB love it. It's undeniable greatness.
What better thing to do when you're confined in your NY apartment with a broken leg than to spy on your neighbors 24/7? Jimmy Stewart was great as L.B, always funny and charismatic, even when confined to a wheel-chair. Grace Kelly is as lovely as ever, playing the most charming side-kick you'll ever see, always trying to prove Jeffries that she is willing to do anything for him, biting danger to win his heart.
Forces us to question our gendered assumptions in riveting fashion, particularly for the time. My favorite example: Throughout the film we assume, as Jefferies does, that the curvy "Miss Torso" is leading men on, playing hard to get, playing the field -- we see her flirting but rejecting kisses, dancing seductively -- then, at the end of the film, her soldier husband returns home. She was just trying to be faithful.
I thought this film was fascinating. The idea that it was all contained in one room, an idea similar to that of "rope" yet with such convincing and responsive allure. Jimmy Stewart is wonderful here, playing a "watchful" eye caught in a scandal of crime and voyeurism.