Dan Abel’s review published on Letterboxd:
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH HER?
L. B. "Jeff" Jefferies is the best photographer around. He'll do anything for the perfect shot, and it's that determination that caught him a broken leg while he filmed a race car crash. For seven weeks he is confined to a wheelchair in his small apartment during a brutally hot summer. Six have passed but each one seems longer than the last. With nothing else to do but wait he takes to watching his neighbors from his rear window. One in particular draws his interest the most. A salesman. A salesman who's bed ridden wife seems to have gone missing. What kind of a salesman goes out with his box of samples at 3 am anyway? Interest becomes obsession. An obsession that spreads beyond Jeff and his binoculars and encompasses those around him. A morbid curiosity that must be quelled.
Read Window is one of those critically acclaimed films that rates high on lists all over the world. I'd never gotten around to seeing it until today and boy am I glad I did. James Stewart is a old time Hollywood legend and yet I've only seen two of his films before, both of which I loved. This is the now the third. There are many scenes with no dialogue watching through the eyes of Jeff as he observes all of his neighbors while they go about their lives both in their windows and outside in the courtyard. The area outside his window is very detailed and interesting. I did a quick Google search to figure out where the filming was done and I was shocked to discover that the entire outside courtyard area and the multiple stories above it were based on a real life courtyard on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village but everything was built on a set at Paramount Studios. Incredible. I'm a huge video game fan and one of my favorite series is the Silent Hill line of games. I now realize that the view outside the window in Silent Hill 4: The Room pays homage to this classic film. Very cool.
By the halfway point I was engrossed and I too wanted to know what was going on in those windows but I can understand how some would never make it to that point. Rear Window is very slow and if you're not hooked into the premise from the beginning you may not stick around for the fulfilling payoff. If you come into this expecting any kind of action you're mostly out of luck. This entire film is shot in one apartment and through one window. It sounds like it shouldn't amount to much but that would be incorrect because the plot encompasses the unfurling of a mystery at a deliberately slow pace. This is a look into the life of a man who has been in isolation for weeks. While he looks at his neighbors we're looking at him. So bored and mentally drifting down a road of borderline insanity and somehow manages to bring a group of people down that road with him. That group should include you the viewer as well. Jeff did six weeks, you can do an hour and 52 minutes. It's worth it.
I don't see the "brilliant work of art" that others see in this film. I absolutely enjoyed it, so I don't mean to disparage the work but it's far from a masterpiece. I put Rear Window in the same box as The Birds not because they are bad films, but because they are good films that tend to be overrated. If I had to take a guess as to why I'd say it's because of their director, Alfred Hitchcock and the legion of people who would go as far as to sniff a Hitchcockian fart and proclaim it smells like warm apple pie on a brisk November morning. This film is no fart, but you get the gist. After watching it but before finalizing this review I sat on The Throne of Reflection for a few minutes and did some reading. It gave me a greater respect and a better understanding of why this film is held in such high regard, but it's all highfalutin film snob stuff. I don't and will never belong to that crowd. I'm the everyman, and I call it how I see it.
This is a very good film albeit not for everyone, and it could bore many to tears if they are not sucked into the plot by the thirty minute mark.
A simple technology of the time could have solved all of this drama. It's known as a television and it's much more interesting than staring out a window all day and night. I guess I need to watch Vertigo in the near future and keep the Hitchcock train rolling. Toot toot!