Rear Window (1954) starring James Stewart & Grace Kelly

This month (July) TCM has been showing Hitchcock’s films every MON & WED; Rear Window is probably my fave of his films. (Strangers on a Train would come in second, b/c WHO could resist the devilish Robert Walker!?) This is a simple story, BUT there is a LOT going on (once you watch it a few times)! Most of you know the synopsis (below from IMDB): 

Professional photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries breaks his leg while getting an action shot at an auto race. Confined to his New York [Chelsea] apartment, he spends his time looking out of the rear window observing the neighbors. He begins to suspect that a man across the courtyard may have murdered his wife. Jeff enlists the help of his high society fashion-consultant girlfriend Lisa Freemont and his visiting nurse Stella to investigate.

When two people love each other, they come together – WHAM – like two taxis on Broadway. -Stella tells Jeff her view of relationships

The relationship between Jeff (James Stewart) and Lisa (Grace Kelly) is a BIT complicated; they are VERY attracted to each other, BUT have different lifestyles and personalities. Jeff thinks that Lisa is TOO good for him; you can tell by the way he describes her (to others and also during their evening dates at home). Lisa is (obviously) waiting for him to settle down (note the comment about the art gallery) and ask for her hand in marriage (b/c she loves him a LOT, putting up w/ his quirks). Straight-talking Stella (Thelma Ritter- always a delight) bemoans the fact that courtships have become SO complicated (LOL- a LOT of modern/single people would agree).

Stewart gets to flex his acting muscles in this darkly comic role. You can’t help but laugh at a LOT of Jeff’s lines, the way he looks, and generally expresses himself. He doesn’t have the luxury of much movement, being confined to a wheelchair (though is still VERY effective). Lisa is willing to make their lives work together, though he has doubts. And when she faces danger, Jeff realizes just how much he loves her! 

[1] Alfred Hitchcock is considered by most to be the master of suspense. I believe he was also a master of understanding human nature. He intuitively understood that human beings are voyeurs by nature, not in the perverted sense, but in the curious sense. 

[2] The acting is superb in this film. Jimmy Stewart is unabashedly obsessed as the lead character. Photographers have an innate visual perceptiveness and the ability to tell a story with an image and Stewart adopts this mindset perfectly. Grace Kelly has often been accused of being the “Ice Maiden” in her films, yet in this film she is assertive and even reckless. Though cool at times, she is often playful and rambunctious. 

[3] The main characters are wonderfully portrayed and full of life. The apparently simple setting in an apartment complex is developed into a world filled with intriguing and sometimes unsettling possibilities, and this apparently average neighborhood comes to life with a wealth of lavish visual detail and interesting minor characters.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

 

 

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Game of Thrones: Season 7, Episode 2 (“Stormborn”) – Top 10 Lines

SPOILERS: Don’t read this review if you haven’t seen or don’t want to know details from the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

10) That’s not you.

Arya Stark says this to her direwolf Nymeria when they’re reunited (by chance) in the woods. This line takes us back to something she said to her father way back in S1: “That’s not me.” Ned was explaining re: the kind of life a lady would have, BUT young Arya already knew that was NOT the life for her; now, Nymeria has her own life w/ a pack of wolves. Maybe she’ll come out again and help Arya later on?

9) You are my weakness.

This is Grey Worm’s “I love you” to Missandei before their (VERY sweet) love scene.  

8) He’s not a servant.

Yara Greyjoy explains this to Ellaria Sand when they’re drinking below deck re: Theon. She refers to her brother as a “protector,” BUT that turns out to be ironic. Theon’s fears emerge (he is triggered) when he sees brutal uncle, Euron, holding an axe to his sister’s throat; Theon jumps overboard and swims away. He is a survivor or coward- it depends on your thinking. 

7) Just kill us!

Ellaria tells Euron’s soldiers when they capture her and her daughter, Tyene. But we can guess that they are needed alive (for now); they will be presented to Cersei Lannister as a gift- no doubt.

6) No one else will try, so I’m the best you’ve got.

Samwell Tarly solemnly explains to Ser Jorah Mormont before he starts the procedure to remove the greyscale from the knight’s body. This has to be done ASAP, b/c as Archmaester Ebrose said, Jorah will be sent away the next morning (to live out his life w/ The Stone Men in Valyria). The fact that Sam served in the Night’s Watch under Jorah’s father, Lord Cmdr Jeor Mormont, adds to the poignancy of this (hard to watch) scene. I was VERY glad to see Iain Glen again- I hope Jorah gets saved! 

5) Touch my sister, and I’ll kill you myself!

I just LOVED this line (threat) that Jon Snow said to Littlefinger (while choking him)! Jon was visiting Ned’s statue (in the Stark family crypt) when Littlefinger joined him and started running his mouth re: Ned, Catelyn, and his role in defeating Ramsay. I’m glad that Jon is there for Sansa, BUT I think she can probably take care of herself (w/ Brienne at Winterfell). Do you think Jon overreacted? Can Littlefinger still turn Sansa against Jon?

4) While I am away, The North is yours.

Jon shows his trust and confidence in Sansa; she is (pleasantly) surprised. Littlefinger’s smirks- what could that mean? Ser Davos approves of this decision; he will ride w/ Jon to meet w/ Dany.

3) Incompetence should not be rewarded with blind loyalty.

Varys (boldly) says this to Dany after she questions him re: his past life as counsel to her father (Aerys- “The Mad King”), then to Robert Baratheon. Varys, who is truly an up-from-nothing story, doesn’t blindly follow any leader- he wants what is best for the people of Westeros. Dany considers his words, then decides to pardon him, and keep him as her counsel. This is showing her maturity as a leader! (Didn’t this line remind you of Trump? LOL!)

2) The Prince or Princess who was promised will bring the dawn.

Missandei corrects Melisandre’s prophecy, which Dany says she likes. Their is NO mention of gender in ancient Valyrian, so the individual who ends up on the Iron Throne could be male (Jon, Euron, Littlefinger, Varys, etc.) or female (Dany, Cersei, Sansa, etc.) Or, as some fans want, Jon and Dany could rule together! 

1) Be a dragon.

Lady Olenna (Yay, she’s back!) advises Dany with this (VERY cool) line. Only someone of her age, experience, and status in Westeros could get away w/ something like this in front of The Mother of Dragons. Even David and Dan were quite impressed by Diana Rigg’s delivery (as the said after the episode). 

Rebecca (1940) starring Laurence Olivier & Joan Fontaine

INTRODUCTION

[1] The first thing that you notice is the outstanding cinematography. 

[2] …Joan Fontaine is just perfect as de Winter’s new bride. I can’t spot an unconvincing moment in her performance and can’t imagine any other actress in the role. 

[3] Her [Judith Anderson’s] presence is as dark and foreboding as that of the deceased Rebecca herself, and Fontaine is evidently cowed by her icy stare and unnervingly formal manner. The dynamics between the two actresses are wonderful. 

-Excerpts from various reviews on IMDB

Alfred Hitchcock often claimed that this film wasn’t his own. It belonged to Daphne Du Maurier because she had created such vivid characters and such a complex and exciting story. I disagree. You can’t deny his hallmark in all areas of this expertly crafted film. -Bette’s Classic Movie Blog

It is said that director Alfred Hitchcock encouraged the cast to shun Joan Fontaine (sister of Olivia de Havilland), even going as so far as to tell her “everyone here hates you” (in order to making her performance even more self-conscious and nervous in the lead role). Laurence Olivier was already upset w/ the fact that Vivien Leigh (his then-girlfriend) wasn’t chosen for the role. A gothic romance (inspired undoubtedly by Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights), Rebecca is a suspenseful study in guilt and anxiety, exploring themes of love, obsession, and power. This is a moody (atmospheric) film which draws in the viewer w/ its music (by Franz Waxman), superb use of light and shadow, and (most importantly)- characters. The Grapes of Wrath was a fine film (and a great contender), but Rebecca won the Oscar. 

CHARACTERS

Narrator/Mrs. de Winter (Joan Fontaine): A shy, self-deprecating young woman working as “a paid companion” (an assistant/friend). Her mother and father (who she said people didn’t understand) are deceased, so she (as a single woman) has to make a way for herself in the world. Sometimes you will relate to her; at other times, feel sorry for her predicament. 

It’s just that I, well I’m, not the person men marry.

Maxim de Winter (Laurence Olivier): A middle-aged, handsome, aristocratic widower from Cornwall, where he owns an estate- Manderley. He can be witty/charming one moment, then angry/brooding the next (like Mr. Rochester); he is trying to forget his past.

Happiness is something I know nothing about.

Mrs. Van Hopper (Florence Bates): Rebecca’s wealthy/widowed/high-maintenance employer. The two ladies are vacationing in Monte Carlo at the start of the story. She is shocked when she discovers that her companion and Maxim are engaged; she asks:

Have you been doing anything you shouldn’t?

Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson): She seems to be as much a nanny-figure and a controlling mother figure, as a sinister housekeeper. She is creepily devoted to the memory of her former mistress, Rebecca; we are left to wonder just what sort of relationship they had. In the pivotal bedroom scene, she asks the second Mrs. de Winter:

Do you think the dead come back and watch the living?

Beatrice Lacy (Gladys Cooper): Maxim’s older sister who is surprised to meet the new Mrs. de Winter, but eventually warms up to her as a family member. She lives nearby w/ her somewhat comedic husband, Major Lacy (Nigel Bruce). Cooper is perhaps best known as the domineering mother to Bette Davis’ character in Now Voyager (1942); she also played Rex Harrison’s mother in My Fair Lady (1964). It’s nice to see her in a more lighthearted role here.

Jack Favell (George Sanders): A clever, charming cousin of Rebecca’s who we sense has a shady side. He shares secrets w/ Mrs. Danvers and feels contempt for Maxim. Jack acts like he feels sorry for the new Mrs. de Winter when he meets her by chance. Sanders has a pivotal role in All About Eve (1950), where I first noticed him and became a big fan. He was in another (gothic-inspired) film- The Ghost and Mrs. Muir starring Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney. 

Frank Crawley (Reginald Denny): The manager of the Maderley estate; he is cordial to everyone in the household, including the new mistress. This is NOT the type of guy who makes (or likes) drama, unlike others in this tale.

Colonel Julyan (C. Aubrey Smith): He is a no-nonsense elderly aristocrat in charge of the court case (inquest). This actor played Mr. Laurence in Little Women (1949) starring Elizabeth Taylor and Janet Leigh (another of Hitch’s players).

Dr. Baker (Leo G. Carroll): He is a medical doctor in London. This prolific character actor appeared in several of Hitch’s films: Suspicion (1941), Spellbound (1945), Strangers on a Train (1951), and North by Northwest (1959).

THEMES

Food

Mrs. de Winter has trouble with eating. The long lonely dining room table separates her and her husband. Food is heaped up around characters: Jack tears into cold chicken, Mrs Van Hopper wolfs down chocolates, and “Oh! What a plateful!” exclaims Beatrice. 

Clothing & Hair

At the beginning, Fontaine’s character is dressed like she made terrible selections at a Macy’s basement sale. Later, as she tries to fill the role of the “great lady”… her clothes always appear too big and out of character. Note the black evening dress with the absurdly large flowers across the front and the overwhelming gown at the costume ball. -Excerpt from IMDB review

Mrs. de Winter is repeatedly subjected to adverse comments on her hair. When she tries for a new more sophisticated look, Maxim hates it. Hair (confined, unbound, luxurious, neglected) is mentioned several times in the film. We hear that Rebecca had long dark hair.  

Scent

Scent is as suspect and degenerate as all of Rebecca’s luxuries: a trap, a snare and a betrayal. -Les Senteurs blog

Mrs. de Winter talks of storing up her memories like perfume. Maxim comments that those little bottles “sometimes contain demons that have a way of popping out at you just as you’re trying most desperately to forget.” He prefers his new bride to smell natural. 

Innocence 

He had a theory that if you should find one perfect thing, or place or person, you should stick to it. Do you think that’s very silly? -The narrator says about her father to Maxim

The main thing that attracts Maxim to the narrator is her innocence (including her inexperience w/ men, unassuming manners, and youth). When she woefully wishes she were older and elegantly dressed, Maxim stops the car and solemnly replies: “Please promise me never to wear black satin or pearls… or to be 36 years old.” We can sense that Maxim has emotional baggage, but the second Mrs. de Winter doesn’t see the warning signs, or she overlooks them, being so much in love.