Among Alfred Hitchcock’s Hollywood films, Rear Window is the most nuanced. While it doesn’t match the sheer edge-of-your-seat terror of Psycho or The Birds, its methodical pace helps build a deliberate, nerve-wracking tension that only Hitchcock could pull off.
James Stewart plays daring photojournalist L.B. Jefferies, who is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg earned while shooting a race car accident. Along with the beautiful Grace Kelly, the two Hitchcock veterans play detective to solve a mystery from the confines of his apartment.
The film’s primary theme is that of voyeurism, a common theme in several Hitchcock movies (including Psycho), and it masterfully makes the viewer feel like a voyeur to the film’s events, much like Stewart does to his neighbors.
The grinding, drawn out build-up in Rear Window is masterfully executed: It builds up an anxiety in the viewer (much like a voyeur would feel while spying) that scares you even when nothing is happening, but it doesn’t move slow enough to ever feel boring.
All the pent-up anxiety is definitely worthy of the climax though, and I walked away extremely satisfied, not just by the conclusion, but the entire, albeit short, journey.