(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Movie: Rear Window
Where You Can Stream It: Peacock
The Pitch: Jimmy Stewart plays a gruff photographer named L.B. Jeffries who broke his leg on the job. To recover, he’s sentenced to spend seven weeks at home, wheelchair-bound in a full leg cast, visited only by his company’s insurance nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) and his high-class girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly). With not much else to do, Jeffries kills time by looking out his window and observing his neighbors, all of whom have their windows open because of a heat wave that’s settled over Manhattan. But as he watches, he begins to suspect that one of his neighbors may have murdered his own wife, and Jeffries becomes obsessed with solving the case.
Why It’s Essential Viewing: Considered by many to be among the best films ever made, Alfred Hitchcock‘s 1954 classic is a study in voyeurism and a masterwork of suspense. If you haven’t seen it, now is a particularly excellent time to take the plunge, because the film ended up being an unwitting predictor of our current quarantine experience. (I haven’t spotted any murders out my window yet…but since this pandemic isn’t going away any time soon, there’s still plenty of time for that.) I’m far from the first person to point this out, but Jeffries being confined to his apartment reflects how many of us are still staying home as much as possible as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, making the movie possibly more relevant – and definitely more relatable – than ever. Read More »
I’ve talked in the past about my love of the ways in which current technology can give us new perspectives on old movies, and this is a great example of that in action.
Jeff Desom built a sort of 3D digital model of the apartment courtyard from Alfred Hitchcock‘s film Rear Window, and then composited all the events seen from the window of Jimmy Stewart‘s apartment into a single shot that covers a couple days and nights. It’s like watching the film play out if you were the person who lived next to or above Stewart’s character, and it is a surprisingly beautiful way to look at the film. Check out the video below. Read More »
What is Page 2? Page 2 is a compilation of stories and news tidbits, which for whatever reason, didn’t make the front page of /Film. After the jump we’ve included 35 different items, fun images, videos, casting tidbits, articles of interest and more. It’s like a mystery grab bag of movie web related goodness. If you have any interesting items that we might’ve missed that you think should go in /Film’s Page 2 – email us!
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When is it playful homage and when it is copyright infringement? The basis of a new lawsuit alleges that Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks lifted the plot, characters and protagonist for the studio’s 2007 hit, Disturbia, from the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock classic Rear Window. Note that Spielberg personally did not work as a director or producer on this production. More specifically, the lawsuit claims that Dreamworks should have sought the rights to the short story, “Murder From a Fixed Viewpoint,” the source material from which the Hitchcock film was adapted.
“In the Disturbia film the defendants purposefully employed immaterial variations or transparent rephrasing to produce essentially the same story as the Rear Window story,” the lawsuit said.
When Disturbia was released, comparisons between the two films were widespread amongst critics and the marketing did little to hide the similarities, going so far as to encourage them. Perhaps our readers can clarify, but according to Wikipedia and other sites, it was the short story, “It Had to Be Murder,” written by Cornell Woolrich, the same author as “Viewpoint,” that was the basis for Rear Window. In 1990, a copyright case regarding “Murder” and future movie rights went to the U.S. Supreme Court, with the ruling going in favor of the short story’s owner, a literary agent named Sheldon Abend. The Sheldon Abend Revocable Trust is at the center of this new lawsuit as well.
Rear Window has inspired countless films and TV shows since its release. Brian De Palma arguably and infamously made a career out of borrowing from this film (see Body Double and Sisters) and Hitchcock, but Disturbia went the extra mile. The phrase “modern update” is applicable. As the lawsuit points out: Both are murder mysteries beginning with a man who, while peering from his window, witnesses strange behavior in the home of his neighbor. Switch up James Stewart’s leg injury for Shia LaBeouf’s house arrest ankle monitor and so forth.
Discuss: What do you think? Obviously, the suing party is seeking compensation, but do the similarities warrant a lawsuit? Homage or plagiarism?