REAR WINDOW: THE SIGHTS AND SOUNDS

Rear Window on Cheeky Design

I just watched (and sketched) one of my all-time favorite classics the other week, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 suspense thriller Rear Window. Aside from the amazing performances by its leads (Jimmy Stewart is the beyond charming, wheelchair bound photographer L.B. Jeffries and Grace Kelly is his “walking on air” gorgeous, socialite girlfriend Lisa Fremont), there is the impeccable sound and set design. Check out the opening sequence below for a sample. You can hear car horns and children's laughter drifting from blocks away. You can hear muffled neighboring conversations, and piano songs, seep through walls up to Jeffries' open window. As a side note, I just learned that this kind of sound design is called “digetic sounds", or the sounds arising from the normal lives of characters (you're welcome). You can see the city light change and effect every brick on every building…and all of this was created on a sound stage. That's right, a sound stage. Did you know that? Every building, every visible window (and there are hundreds), was pain stakingly created for the film. Those sounds, aren't real! Does that make you want to re-watch it? It should. That and Thelma Ritter’s performance as the feisty insurance masseuse Stella, who gives Jeffries a "dose of common sense" talk that has long since gone missing from scripts.