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Rear Window (1954)

Book Vs Movie Podcast

Book Vs. Movie:

Rear WindowThe 1942 Short Story Vs. the 1954 Classic Film

The Margos are swooning throughout this episode for one of the greatest movies of all time, adapted from a short story by a very interesting (and prolific) author. Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window is one of his finest works based on the short story; It Had to be Murder by Cornell Woolrich.

Woolrich is considered one of his generation’s best mystery/suspense writers, with dozens of titles making it to movie adaptations, including The Bride Wore Black, Night Had a Thousand Eyes, Mrs. Winterbourne, and Original Sun. He was so proficient as a writer of novels, screenplays, and short stories he had two noms de plumes–William Irish & George Hopley.

A lonely man (he once dedicated a book to his hotel room), when he passed in 1968, he left his work to his alma mater Columbia University which eventually helped change the copyright laws. (See Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, 1998.)
The story’s bones are the same as the film: an injured man stuck in his apartment becomes a “peeping tom,” spying on his neighbors and being grumpy to “Sam,” who is paid to help him. Our protagonist believes he has witnessed a murder across the street and is trying to get the police to take him seriously.

The 1954 adaptation was shot on the Paramount Studio lot with a full-sized apartment building courtyard to mimic the real thing in Greenwich Village. James Stewart plays LB “Jeff” Jeffries, a photojournalist who is home recovering from a broken leg. Jeff must wear a cast for one more week before returning to his adventurous life. He passes the time by snooping on his neighbors across the courtyard.

Grace Kelly plays his impossible beautiful girlfriend from the upper crust society who is trying to get a commitment from Jeff. (He negs her constantly, which makes ZERO sense!) Jeff wants to see Lisa be more adventurous when he thinks he witnesses a murder across the courtyard.

Thelma Ritter plays his nurse Stella, and the trio becomes detectives trying to figure out a sweaty salesman played by Raymond Burr (pre-Perry Mason) who may have made his wife disappear–permanently.

This film lost out to many major awards to On the Waterfront (it was a contender!) However, time has turned it into a masterclass of direction, sound, editing, acting, and writing.
The Margos debate between the original short story and the classic film–which did we like more?
In this ep the Margos discuss:

Clips used:

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