Martin Skidmore says:

This film has become oddly topical in recent years, with its pre-echoes of reality TV, since it is about sitting there and watching ordinary people go about their lives. The filming of this is brilliantly simple – we’re made entirely complicit in James Stewart’s voyeurism (how deliberately meta is Hitch being here? He even views them through a lens, Stewart being a photographer, and the camera is his protection in the finale!), and we are trapped with his viewpoint as much as his wheelchair traps him, by the camera being stuck in the apartment with him, watching others from a distance, and this voyeurism is justified and even valorised when it is turned to heroic use.

There are all sorts of mirrored notions here too – the woman wishing for a man, and the one turning men away; the newlyweds shagging all day and the childless couple doting on a dog; and of course most importantly the immobilised Stewart and Grace Kelly, happy together but apparently going nowhere, watching an unhappy couple with a bed-bound woman (and the happy subsequent irony of her husband’s later role as Ironside adds something too, a pleasing retro-influence) – their wedding ring is an important clue late on, as well as a reminder of the stasis of the central relationship.

Stewart was a perfect choice for this movie, less for his acting (nothing at all wrong with it, though – he is actually given little to do here, just looking) than for his previous roles – he was the perfect everyman, someone with whom we had almost always happily accepted invitations to identify over the years. This helpful bagagge is probably needed here, as he isn’t that likeable a character – cold to his beautiful girlfriend, bad-tempered, selfish.

I’m making this sound like a clever intellectual exercise rather than an entertaining film, and that’s not right. The tension when Grace Kelly investigates the flat opposite, and James Stewart can see the murder suspect returning, is as great as the master of suspense ever achieved – Hitch claims (in the great Truffaut interview book) that Joseph Cotten’s wife turned to her husband at this point in the premiere and insisted he do something! And the moment when this suspected killer (played by Raymond Burr) locks eyes with Stewart, across the courtyard, is extraordinarily powerful. It’s a masterfully involving film, with immense power, and maybe Hitchcock’s most perfect movie.

Pete Baran says:

The remake with Christopher Reeve shows that from a script point of view Rear Window was a film that was almost impossible to fuck up. But then I would have said that about Phone Booth (almost a reversal of some of the ideas in Rear Window) and look at the dogs dinner Joel Schumacher made of that. But the match of murder and Celebrity Square is so compelling that you wonder why other game shows have not been cannibalized in this way. Blankety Point Blank anyone?