In the process of providing the most extensive analysis of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window to date, John Fawell also dismantles many myths and clichés about Hitchcock, particularly in regard to his attitude toward women.
Although Rear Window masquerades quite successfully as a piece of light entertainment, Fawell demonstrates just how complex the film really is. It is a film in which Hitchcock, the consummate virtuoso, was in full command of his technique. One of Hitchcock’s favorite films, Rear Window offered the ideal venue for the great director to fully use the tricks and ideas he acquired over his previous three decades of filmmaking. Yet technique alone did not make this classic film great; one of Hitchcock’s most personal films, Rear Window is characterized by great depth of feeling. It offers glimpses of a sensibility at odds with the image Hitchcock created for himself—that of the grand ghoul of cinema who mocks his audience with a slick and sadistic style.
Though Hitchcock is often labeled a misanthrope and misogynist, Fawell finds evidence in Rear Window of a sympathy for the loneliness that leads to voyeurism and crime, as well as an empathy for the film’s women. Fawell emphasizes a more feeling, humane spirit than either Hitchcock’s critics have granted him or Hitchcock himself admitted to, and does so in a manner of interest to film scholars and general readers alike.