Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window

I’m a fan of the Hitch. I discovered his films in VHS format at the forgotten corner of a video rental store where the classics and special interest genres were displayed. I knew his films, of course, I think I may have even watch some of his specials on TV as a kid but I was too young to remember.

In my bucket list, I’ll include, watching all the Alfred Hitchcock films I can lay my hands on. So far I’ve watched just the most notable ones: The Birds, Vertigo, and Psycho. Today, I add Rear Window. (Next stop: Strangers on a Train)

Alfred Hitchcock at Madame Tussaud's
Alfred Hitchcock at Madame Tussaud’s

I knew the premise as I’ve watched the imitation, Disturbia, starring Shia Labeouf. I must say this one is a bit slower on the pacing, no hurried action sequences necessary. It’s a little light compared to Birds and Psycho but it’s meant to be that way. I love that courtyard and how someone can make do without a television and just watch the neighborhood drama unfolding simultaneously, in 4D no less. I would love to live in a neighborhood like that but I’m betting they don’t make windows like they used to.

Rear Window stars dashing James Stewart and Grace Kelly (before she became a princess). Jeff (Stewart) is immobile with a cast on his right leg. He misses the action packed life of a press photographer who covers world events and makes do with watching other people’s lives unfold, framed in the 4 panels of his rear apartment window. His window overlooks a courtyard shared by 5(?) buildings. In plain view are windows of his neighbors: a ballet dancer who’s stupid enough to leave her windows wide open while prancing about in her undies, a nagging wife and simmering husband, another couple who sleeps on the balcony (it’s hot) and is probably the laziest dog owners around (dog in the basket with pulley to bring dog in and out of the apartment), newlyweds who didn’t leave their bed for the whole of the movie, partying composer, an artist, and probably more that I’m just forgetting.

Anyway, a lot of those neighbors are not important. The story centers on the couple with the nagging wife and a tired looking husband. Jeff got it in his head that one night, the husband killed the wife and stuffed her body in a trunk or maybe buried her under the flower beds (when the dog got killed while sniffing on the assumed burial spot). The problem is he didn’t actually see the murder, even with big ass zoom lens and big ass binoculars. He fell asleep when the deed took place, and besides, the guy had the decency to keep his blinds close.

Jeff was so engrossed with his theory, he even convinced his girlfriend and part time nanny to dig up the “grave.” His overly-attached girlfriend (Kelley) was so eager to please (or maybe just a tad high on adrenaline), she risked her life climbing over the guy’s window to get evidence. Well, the guy caught her when he returned unexpectedly to the apartment. Fortunately, the police was called beforehand, but the guy caught girlfriend signaling to boyfriend, Jeff, that she got the ring as evidence.

As any self-respecting guy who’s apartment just got broken into would do, he went to Jeff’s apartment to ask what’s the deal? In the confrontation, it was revealed that he did, indeed, killed his wife and stuffed her body in the trunk. Scuffles followed and Jeff ended up hanging from his window while killer tries to do him in with an alarmed neighborhood all looking in on the action happening from across their building(for once). In a miraculous coincidence(that happens only in movies), turns out the police haven’t left yet (although it seems impossible as a lot of time passed) and was there in time to save Jeff although he still fell and in a funny ending, hurt both his feet and is again confined to his apartment.

SIDE BAR: Have I mentioned the gorgeous clothes? I’m really a 50’s fashionista, at heart, deep inside, where there lies a thinner me. Sigh… If I had the body, I’d wear those gorgeous voluminous skirts all the time. I wouldn’t care if people have to give me an extra 2 feet of space in a crowded train.

SIDE BAR: I don’t know why Hitchcock prefers blondes. Is it because of the black and white format of his earlier movies? But I’m enamored by Grace Kelley’s presence on the screen. The clothes fit her perfectly and even while climbing the second story fire ladder, she was nonchalantly elegant.

I have to say, this don’t happen in the 2010s. Oh no, privacy is very much sacred in today’s society*sarcasm* Instead of windows, what we have is social media. Instead of one dashing, slightly pervy, but otherwise normal guy, the whole world is a potential peeping tom. Instead of a courtyard, we have the internet.

Alfred Hitchcock and Me
Alfred Hitchcock and Me at Madame Tussaud’s in HK



Dracula, the Liberal Democrat Steampunk Vampire

I’m not sure why but I’m slowly liking NBC’s newest vampire series, starring the arrogantly gorgeous Jonathan Rhys Myers, Dracula. I’ve always loved vampires even as a little girl but since reading the original Dracula, I’m averse to the Hollywood-ification of the character. I watched the first episode just because, well … Jonathan Rhys Myers! How could I not. I’ve got objections of course. The costumes – what??? No self-respecting lady of aristocratic origins would wear something like that in the late 19th century, LUCY! The PDA – What??? No self-respecting lady of the 19th century would be kissing their beau in the middle of the street, MINA!

The unexpected plot lines are hilarious. Dracula, disguised as a wealthy American industrialist, is here to bring forth wireless light bulbs! No, not flashlights, as in light powered by geo-magnetism (what makes your compass point north, I don’t know how. Don’t make me explain, for the love of God!)  He’s here to wipe out the Order of the Dragon’s most lucrative venture – oil. Dracula’s plan is to develop green energy to eliminate the need for crude oil. (He should really talk to Obama)

Another surprise is Dracula’s personal approval of the gay community in the 19th century. He personally don’t care who you love but if he can use it to further his agenda, he would not hesitate to use public disgust to his advantage.

Although the characters are all here, Van Helsing, Mina, Jonathan Harker, Lucy, and Renfield, it’s far from Bram Stoker’s original tale. Jonathan here is not a solicitor but a struggling journalist who can’t afford to marry. Mina is studying to be one of the pioneer women in medicine. (I checked – the first woman ever to have a medical degree is Elizabeth Blackwell in 1849) That plot’s at least plausible.

Van Helsing is not the Dracula’s adversary but his ally. He’s the one who resurrected the mummified count to wreck havoc on the Order of the Dragon, the murderers of his family.

I can’t wait for the next episode. I think it’s going to become one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Blame it all on Myers!