Tag Archives: Alfred Hitchcock

Rear Window (1958): Sympathy for a devil

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Lars Thorwald, as played by Raymond Burr is undoubtedly one of the most iconic film villains of all time. Besides the great acting on the part of Burr, the direction of the great Alfred Hitchcock definitely marks his performance in the film “Rear Window” as one of the greats. But when one carefully analyzes what the film presents us as an audience, a truth becomes clear: This is a villain that we virtually know NOTHING about.

We know he’s a salesman, and that he killed his wife. And that based on the witnesses Lt. Doyle mentions to Jefferies, that Thorwald possibly did it because he was seeing another woman behind his wife’s back. But there are other things the viewer should consider.

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Remember, that Jefferies may be the film’s hero, played by the beloved James Stewart. But he is far from an honest character. He alienates himself from his girlfriend constantly, and tries to distance himself from her by keeping her “outside his world” which has shrunken to his apartment. He is a photographer, he traveled the world a lot. He views each neighbor as an extention of himself. The piano player is Jefferies enveloped in his work. Miss Lonely Hearts is Jefferies if he ends up alone. Thorwald and his wife are mirror images of Jefferies and Lisa. He sees that Thorwald is frustrated with taking care of his wife and projected their situation onto him and Lisa. This sympathy for Mrs. Thorwald stems from the seeing her like himself, sick and immobile. Jefferies is a hero who projects the restrictions of his situation on everyone around him.

Essentially, Hitchcock has tricked us into rooting for a peeping tom who got lucky and caught a bad guy. If more of Thorwald’s background were presented, it’s quite possible that Thorwald might appear more morally inclined than Jefferies.


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We’re given no background to the state of Thorwald’s marriage. Aside from the fact that his wife is an ill woman who needs care, and he obviously does. One factor of their relationship that is shown once, but not again. Is a shot of Mrs. Thorwald laughing hysterically at her husband.  He doesn’t appear to be amused at all. While this is never addressed again, either by the story or the observations of Jefferies it does hint at a possible clue of Thorwald’s motives. Perhaps he was being emotionally abused by the woman he tried to care for.

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If Lars Thorwald really was an abuse victim who sought comfort from another woman, it might show a small bit of sympathy in his actions. Thorwald wouldn’t be the devil, he would be a desperate man who killed his wife (maybe accidentally for all we know). And tried to get rid of all the evidence he could. Besides the implied gruesome method of disposing of the body, and the killing of the neighbor’s dog, these seem more like the actions of someone who’s terrible at discretion.

In his final confrontation with Jefferies in Jefferies’ apartment, the only scene where Thorwald actually speaks, it should be noted that he doesn’t threaten Jefferies first. He assumes Jefferies is trying to blackmail him, inquiring that he has no money. He only attacks Jefferies when Jefferies makes it clear that the final piece of evidence, his wife’s ring, is bringing Doyle and the police after him.

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That fact the no further details of Thorwald’s past are ever explored is the only real reason that he is classified as a villain, and Jefferies it could be argued, is only a hero because his habit of invading the privacy of his neighbors was just the lesser of two evils.

Joe’s Random Movie Review: “The Wrong Man” Hitchcock’s unspoken masterpiece.


In 1956, Alfred Hitchcock gave us another very unique film. While most people tend to remember him immediately for films like Psycho, Rear Window, Rebecca , and even North by Northwest. He undoubtedly leaves a creative mark on every film that he ever made. Including the lesser-known ones . In 1956 Hitchcock gave us “The Wrong Man”. This was very unique among other Hitchcock films and that is classified as a docu- drama. 

Based in part on a true story. Hitchcock himself also viewed the story as a very personal one. So personal in fact, that it’s one of the few in a handful of his movies in which he himself does not have a cameo. Which is something he was famous for in most of his films.  Instead he gives a silhouetted intro. 
While some of his other films deal with such fantastic elements as serial killers, espionage, and outright conspiracy, this film actually deals with something a little bit more personal and relatable. And in many ways a far more realistic plot that you could just as easily find in the real world as you could in any movie . 

In the film, Manny Balestrero, (played by Henry Fonda) is convicted for the crime of robbery simply because he happens to physically resemble the actual robber. When he goes into the bank, the Teller is mistakes him for the man who had robbed them previously and they are so sure of his identity and guilt. The police are so sure of the identity based on his own description that nobody even stops to question his own innocence. But the great thing about Fonda’s performance in this movie is that you could see the innocence hidden behind the rage. 

There’s a kind of an unspoken rage inside Fonda’s eyes which is basically the only clue that tell you he is innocent. And the fight for his innocence starts to take a toll on his family. Especially his wife, in this film played by Vera Miles. Who does an excellent job showing the emotional trauma that this is holding on their family. 

A majority of this film is not chasing down the real villain, nor is it a pursuit of innocence much like Hitchcock had done in his film North by Northwest. Rather, it’s all about the effects of society deciding that this man is guilty of a crime that he did not commit. This is actually what the real reason why The Wrong Man has a more down-to-earth feel than many other Hitchcock films. Because there is no true hero in this film in the most popular definition of it. Our main character is a victim.

 The film was actually shot in a very noir-ish black-and-white style. Which actually kind of gives it a rather melancholy feel. Two of the most interesting shots of the film both shots involving Henry Fonda in a prison cell. The first one is when he first shown into the prison cell and the camera zooms in through the port in the door, which kind of helps show the character’s isolation. And then the second one is when he sitting down behind a wall and the camera kind of does almost like a merry-go-round spin around his face symbolizing how his life now feels like it’s starting to go a little out-of-control. Very subtle but very beautifully done.

 If there’s one thing Alfred Hitchcock really excelled at when it came to making movies or rather telling stories, it’s the idea of an ordinary person placed in extraordinary circumstances. You will see this in North by Northwest, you will see this in Rear Window, you will see this in The Lady Vanishes, you’ll even see this in one of his later films, Frenzy. But this film touches on in a very unique way as said before because it has a very realistic feel and it as a whole is a more realistic story the film has a much more grittier vision with it and doesn’t have as many glamorous stars like say Grace Kelly, Cary Grant, or James Stewart. 

Being a movie that’s actually set in a very realistic setting it’s easy to understand how the glamour of 1950s Hollywood could’ve overlooked a film like The Wrong Man. In many ways The Wrong Man was more than likely, a film made ahead of its time. And it only took the passing of that time for audiences to realize how great this movie really is. While today’s fans of Hitchcock can easily overlook it mostly because of films like Psycho, it’s easy to understand also, how a film like The Wrong Man can be rediscovered by new fans of Hitchcock’s work.

Joe’s Random Movie Trivia: “Rear Window” (1954) Who is the Woman in Black?

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Throughout the film, we follow the hero, L.B. Jefferies as he tries to uncover the mystery of the disappearance of his neighbor’s wife, from the confines of his apartment and his wheelchair. As the audience, we explore this world Hitchcock has created and are making discoveries about it as the movie unfolds. As the details of the murder unfold, so does the truth of the woman’s murder.

In this way, Hitchcock creates one form of suspense. For a great portion of the film, Jefferies is the only one who believes the woman was murdered. His cop friend Doyle, doesn’t believe him. Even his girlfriend Lisa doesn’t at first. But what’s really interesting is the one clue that doesn’t prove that Mrs. Thorwald was murdered. It’s the one clue that tears a hole right through Jefferies’ theory..

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Earlier in the movie, while Jefferies starts to see that something strange is going on Something happens, that only we, the audience know. Our hero sees, Thorwald leave his apartment multiple times in the night, and the sudden disappearance of the invalid Mrs. Thorwald. We see these things too, which aid in our suspicions on Thorwald.

So what did we see, that he didn’t see?

Well the answer is at about 36 minutes and 13 seconds into the movie…

It’s late at night, and everyone’s presumably asleep, we see Thorwald and a woman dressed in black leave his apartment. The camera pans back into Jefferies’ apartment revealing he’s asleep and didn’t see this occur.

This is the second type of suspense Hitchcock creates. Because it’s the one clue that points out a flaw in Jefferies’ crime solving. The woman could very well have been Mrs. Thorwald, leaving the apartment. And if it wasn’t, who was she?! Possibly it was Thorwald’s mistress (which is heavily suggested later in the film).

Doyle confirms that eyewitnesses saw her leave the next day. 

As Jefferies says, “A second hand version of an unsupported story from the murderer himself.”

One of the greatest mysteries of Rear Window.

Who is the Woman in Black?!

5 Reasons why Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is the most important film of the 20th Century.

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Psycho is a film riddled with things never before seen on the big screen. For example, it was the first film to actually show a toilet on screen,as well as the first film to show a toilet flushing. We might not think about it that much, but for the sixties, this was significant. The darker elements of the story aren’t exactly the kind of thing found in stereotypical Hitchcock film like say, North By Northwest, or Rear Window. Cross dressing, psychological disturbances, murder. These things weren’t to be found in film of the previous decade.

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Horror, without the supernatural.

Before 1960, the horror genre was one of cheap thrills. The supernatural element had already been symbiotic with the horror genre. Psycho was the film that basically broke that standard, by not including any kind of supernatural element in a film that is basically a horror film. In a way, by not including it, Hitchcock gave Horror back something it lacked since the 30’s……class.

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Cheaper budget.

Mainstream films before Psycho were usually more…extravagant in design, star power, and budget. In using a cheaper budget, Hitchcock showed that you didn’t need a lot of money to make a generally good movie. On a side note, it’s interesting that Hitchcock used his television crew from “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” as opposed to a film crew. Perhaps to add a hint of secrecy. Remember, he forbade anyone not working there from even visiting the set.

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Hitchcock is a master of style. Any Hitchcock film is an excellent example of just about any trick in the book. From the close ups, to those classic moments of suspense. Hitchcock was a director who really knew how to manipulate the audience’s emotions. While these methods are very subtle, they are none the less great quality for Psycho as a film.

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Unique source material.

One wouldn’t think In the late 1950’s, that anyone would even try to adapt Robert Bloch’s novel. After all, it was loosely based on the gruesome killing of the notorious Wisconsin serial killer, Ed Gein. It was a bold move for not only Alfred Hitchcock, but also the film industry to try and change that status quo of the films audiences were used to seeing. Whether or not this was their intention is irrelevant. That was none the less, the effect left to us. And we’re constantly reminded that every time we watch this great movie.


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Joe’s Random Movie Trivia: “The Wrong Man” (1956)

​Alfred Hitchcock famously had cameos in all his movies, but he personally felt that the story was so personal, and so important, that he decided not to have a cameo. Instead, he introduces the movie in a prologue. This marks the only time in any of his movies where he talks to the audience.