Monday, October 29, 2012


I've always loved Grace Kelly. What a life she had! Well bred and wealthy, stunningly beautiful, a successful though brief movie career and, in the manner of fairy tales, whisked away to Monaco to be  real-life princess. Such a tragedy that her life was cut short at such a relatively early age. 
I have five of her movies in my collection and have seen all the others. Her roles were mostly dramatic - she won the Best Actress Oscar for "The Country Girl". However, she also had a real flair for comedy and was never better than as Alfred Hitchcock's leading lady - a role she filled on three occasions. Two of these movies were from the year 1954 and they are both right at the top of the list of my all-time favourites.
The first is "Dial M for Murder" which I will never tire of watching. The plot is so convoluted, it's impossible to be bored with it even if you know how it's all going to turn out. In fact, even after seeing this too many times to count, I usually forget a couple of details as to how everything  ties together. I won't go into spoilery plot details here other than to say it concerns a murder plot which goes wrong. Alfred Hitchcock at his absolute finest.
 Screen caps of the lovely Grace show her physical deterioration as the story progresses and her life falls to pieces, although it's laughable to say she looks remotely unattractive even at her worst here. Note the change from wearing bright clothes and vibrant makeup in the first couple of pictures to the more subdued tones in the later shots.


So, if it came down to it and I really had to choose one movie as my favourite, that movie would be "Rear Window"
I first saw "Rear Window" back in 1983 when it was re released at the cinema after many years. My future husband and I went to see this and many other Hitchcock classics during an exclusive run at the old Trak cinema in Toorak. It is definitely best viewed on a big screen and we were glad to have the opportunity to see it in this way.
I can't think of a single thing I don't like about this wonderful film. It has everything - great cast, storyline, sets, music and ingenious camera work. The suspense is pretty intense at times (even after many, many viewings) but there a few humorous moments to break the tension.
LB "Jeff" Jeffries (James Stewart), a highly respected adventure/action photographer, is recuperating from an on-the-job accident in which he broke his leg. He is confined to a wheelchair in his New York apartment, where his only occupation is observing the day-to-day lives of the residents in the apartment building opposite. One night, he observes one of the residents behaving oddly and is convinced the man has murdered his wife.
His girlfriend, Lisa (the gorgeous Grace) and his day-nurse Stella ( the amazing Thelma Ritter) find this story improbable at first, but gradually come to believe it may be true. The entire movie is set in Jeff's apartment and the audience sees all the action from his apartment window just as he does.
In addition to the whole murder plot, there is the sub-plot concerning Jeff's unwillingness to marry Lisa and settle down into a more traditional life with her. The people he observes through the window are displaying the different ways in which his life may progress, depending on the decision he makes. He watches lonely singles, contented singles, happy couples and bickering couples in the apartments opposite. Which life will he choose?
An excellent movie which grows in my estimation on every viewing. Can't see it being bumped off the top of this list any time in the near future.

 Grace Kelly in all her glory. Divinely dressed throughout by designer Edith Head.

 The unhappy couple at the centre of the mystery

 LB Jeffries getting a little suspicious. The zoom lens on his camera doing a better job
 than binoculars for his voyeuristic activities.

 Could she be any more beautiful?

 Comedy relief, Thelma Ritter as Stella the nurse.

 The adventurous Lisa undertakes some dangerous detective work.


I had a comment on my recent post about "Shane" regarding the white bus. This is a famous blooper where a white bus or truck can be seen driving along in the distance during the film's opening scene. My Dad loved this blooper and would point it out gleefully whenever he saw it. I certainly would have screen capped it if I could have but it was unfortunately edited out on my DVD. I was unable to locate it on Youtube but it must be around somewhere. Wish I had Dad's old VHS tape!


librarygirl said...

I loooove those two Hitchcock movies.
I love Manhattan Murder Mystery too which is Woody's take on Rear Window.

librarygirl said...

and you do know it was my husband finally managing to comment re said white bus???