Books and Movies Reviews

Rear Window and Vertigo

Janet Leigh Taking a shower, Tippi Hedren hiding from a flock of crazed fowls in a phone booth; James Stewart and Farley Granger wrestling over a gun; Cary Grant lying low as a crop Duster flies by mere feet overhead; Doris Day singing "Que Sera Sera" at the top of her lungs: these images bring to mind the classic obese silhouette which could belong only to one person-Alfred Hitchcock. For decades, director Alfred Hitchcock has brought the world numerous films of suspense, romance and horror. While some moviegoers wrote him off as just another director looking to cash in on playing with people's emotions, others saw him as an insightful man with a genuine interest in telling a good story that would speak truthfully to his audience. The characters in his films were true to life experiencing problems and emotions to which the audience could relate. Rear Window and Vertigo are two Hitchcock films in which the main character shows voyeuristic behavior, experiences relationship problems and suffers from some sort of a handicap, be it physical or psychological.
In both Rear Window and Vertigo, the main character displays voyeuristic behavior. L.B. Jeff Jeffries displays his voyeuristic nature in Rear Window by spying on his neighbors. His behavior is, more or less, a displacement—Jeff (as he is called) prefers to watch his neighbors from a distance, rather than examine his own life. Ironically, Jeff's nurse at one point tells him, "We've become a race of Peeping Toms; what people ought to do is get outside their own house and look in, for a change," not realizing she has hit upon his exactly what Jeff is doing. Rather than focusing on his own less than perfect life, Jeff begins to live vicariously through the lives of his neighbors.
John Scottie Ferguson, the hero Vertigo, has a similar problem with voyeurism. When an old high school friend, Gavin Elster appears and asks the aimless Scottie to put …


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