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suppliedTitle,Rear Window

REAR WINDOW (1954)

Pop Culture 101 - REAR WINDOW

Rear Window was remade in China as Hou Chuang (1955) and as a TV movie starring Christopher Reeve in 1998. The TV remake made use of the fact that in real life, Reeve was paralyzed after a horseback riding accident. The new version added several updates to the story, including an apartment fitted out in high-tech living-assistance gadgets and a gay couple as two of the neighbors Reeve sees from his window. The movie also featured Robert Forster as the skeptical detective friend played by Wendell Corey in the original. That same year, Forster also appeared in Gus Van Sant's remake of Hitchcock's Psycho (1960).

The film was painstakingly restored by Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz, who also restored Vertigo (1958) and other movies. According to Katz, when Hitchcock got the rights to the film from Paramount in 1967, "he also got terrible advice on storing it in a non-air-conditioned warehouse in L.A. And he was advised, too, to junk many parts of it." By 1983, when Universal got the rights to this film and four others from the Hitchcock estate, the remaining negatives were yellowed, faded and heavily damaged by handling, according to Harris, who began the full-scale restoration in 1997.
Working with Universal Studios' restoration chief, Bob O'Neill, the two employed complicated techniques and digital tweaking to achieve the stunning new print that exists today.

This wasn't the first time Hitchcock set himself the challenge of restricting his story to only one set: Lifeboat (1944), Rope (1948), and most of Dial M for Murder (1954).

The film features an extended scene of James Stewart and Grace Kelly kissing and talking intimately, echoing very similar scenes in Hitchcock's Notorious (1946) and North by Northwest (1959).

It has been said that Jeff and Lisa's relationship was partly inspired by screenwriter John Michael Hayes' marriage to a fashion model and by the affair Ingrid Bergman was having with photographer Robert Capa while filming Notorious (1946). Hayes also used the element of career/marriage conflict in another Hitchcock picture, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956).

Stewart referred to the murdered dog in the picture as "The Dog Who Knew Too Much," after Hitchcock's British-made 1934 thriller. In 1956, Stewart starred in the remake of that movie.

Evil doings overseen from windows and through various types of magnifying lenses have figured into several suspense films, among them The Window (1949), The Bedroom Window (1987) and Body Double (1984), one of the many references and homages to Hitchcock by director Brian De Palma. The equation of filmmaking and viewing, voyeurism and murder was most strikingly pushed to its limits in Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (1960), which, in its shocking approach and affect on critics and audiences, was to England what Psycho (1960) was to the U.S.

A similar premise was used in the Woody Allen comedy Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993), in which Diane Keaton struggles to convince husband Allen that their neighbor may be involved in murder. Allen's film refers to plot and suspense elements of Rear Window but also resembles it in its use of a thriller story (albeit a comic one) to examine a faltering romantic relationship.

Regardless of what pen name he used (and he had several), Cornell Woolrich's stories have formed the basis for a number of suspense films and crime thrillers, including Phantom Lady (1944), which was produced by Joan Harrison, who worked on the screenplays for five Hitchcock movies and appeared in the original The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934). Woolrich's stories were also adapted for several episodes of Hitchcock's TV show; Mississippi Mermaid (1969), directed by Francois Truffaut; and The Window (1949), no relation to Rear Window, although its storyline does follow the perils of a young boy who witnesses a murder from a city fire escape.

Songs used in the background as somewhat ironic comments on the movie's themes and relationships appeared in other movies. "Mona Lisa" won the Best Song Academy Award when it first appeared in the Alan Ladd picture Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950). "To See You (Is to Love You)" was sung by Bing Crosby in Road to Bali (1952). Miss Torso is seen practicing her dance moves to Leonard Bernstein's ballet music "Fancy Free." Dean Martin's hit, "That's Amore," has appeared in at least 10 other movies, including Moonstruck (1987).

Composer Franz Waxman borrowed themes and passages from his other film scores, including A Place in the Sun (1951) and Elephant Walk (1954).

by Rob Nixon

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