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July 21, 2019:

THE PERFECTION KNOWN AS REAR WINDOW

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I’ve just finished watching, for the umpteenth time, a motion picture entitled Rear Window, directed by Mr. Alfred Hitchcock, written by Mr. John Michael Hayes (from the short story by Cornell Woolrich), photographed by Mr. Robert Burks, and starring Mr. James Stewart and Miss Grace Kelly.  If there was or is anything that could be called a perfect motion picture, this would be very high on any list of perfect motion pictures.  Not only that, it is a lesson in what cinema can do in purely visual terms and in terms of editing, or what Mr. Hitchcock calls “montage.”  And a lesson in how subjective cinema storytelling works.

With 99% of the shots in the film from the point of view of Mr. Stewart’s character and shot from his apartment looking across the courtyard at the apartment windows facing him, it is breathtaking in its audacity, never feels confined, never feels like a trick.  The fact that the set is absolutely brilliant is a help.  The way we get to know the characters in those apartments is amazing.  And Franz Waxman’s score is really out there – with almost no dramatic scoring at all, but somehow still functioning in that way.  I saw this movie when I was six or seven and loved it and have loved it ever since.  But back in 1970, I think (either that year or before I left for New York in late 1968), I was fortunate enough to attend a screening of Rear Window at a tribute to Mr. Hitchcock and at which Mr. Hitchcock was present.  At the time, the movie was either fourteen or sixteen years old. But despite the dated clothes of Miss Kelly, courtesy of Edith Head, you’d have thought it was shot that year.  It was nothing like what Hollywood had begun to turn out at that point – the Easy Riders and Midnight Cowboys or The Graduate – there’d been a huge sea change in movies and no one wanted an old-fashioned picture, but Rear Window played like gangbusters – the laughs were HUGE, the big suspense moments had people squirming in their seats, and the one moment where Miss Kelly is trapped but cleverly shows Mr. Stewart that she has a certain piece of evidence – and the camera panning up to show Mr. Raymond Burr looking at her showing Mr. Stewart and then looking up directly into Mr. Stewart’s apartment got a huge gasp from that audience.

Mr. Hitchcock spoke afterwards and that was fun and illuminating. It was one of the greatest moviegoing experiences I’ve ever had.  The film never gets old to me – the screenplay is filled with brilliant dialogue, but it’s also filled with great sequences that play with no dialogue at all, just the sounds of the outdoors.  The restoration done by Harris and Katz is, for the most part, pretty astounding-looking, especially with the tools they had back then.  There are certain shots that don’t look great, but I’m in the midst of watching the making of and they’re talking about the challenges.  One does wonder if it could even be better now. If somehow you’ve never seen Rear Window, you owe it to yourself to get it on Blu-ray and watch what perfection in cinema is all about.

Yesterday was a completely frustrating day, from start to finish and since I’ve made posts about it on our lively discussion board, I shan’t regurgitate it here, other than to say between PayPal and AT&T I wasted three hours on the phone because of AT&T’s complete ineptitude. Prior to that, the work session was also completely frustrating, but I don’t need to go into that.  I’d had a hankering for a good pastrami sandwich and had decided to go to Brent’s Deli all the way in Northridge to have it, but the three hours on the phone put an end to that.  Nor did I have time to go to the mail place.  So, I ended up eating two bagels with cream cheese and the rest of the lox.  It was fine, and I also had some crackers later in the evening, just prior to watching Rear Window.  Then I began the making of, but then it was time to write these here notes.

Today, I can sleep in, then I’ll go to the mail place to see if anything came in, and then if I’m feeling up to it I may go out to Brent’s Deli, although if I do it will have to be after two – it will be too crowded before then.  Otherwise, I’m relaxing, and I don’t care who knows it.

This week is filled with meetings and meals, I’ll see the second revision of The Creature Wasn’t Nice, I will hopefully give the final approval for the Adriana audiobook, and if the proofing of GEE turns out to be fine, I’ll upload that to ACX and it will go live – I think that’s how it works. And the Adriana narrator will upload her stuff.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, sleep in, hopefully pick up packages, eat, and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s free-for-all day, the day in which you dear readers get to make with the topics and we all get to post about them.  So, let’s have loads of lovely topics and loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have luxuriated in the perfection known as Rear Window and hoping for a completely frustration-free day.

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