+ Hitchcock's Rope and Rear Window

Thanks to my lovely Hitchcock Box Set, I now have a chance to make my way through some of the many Hitchcock masterpieces still on my must-see list. I don't have much time to blog but I wanted to say a word or two about the two films I've watched recently.


The Rope

Rope stars James Stewart, John Dall and Farley Granger, it is the first of Hitchcock's films in colour, and is notable for taking place in real time and being edited so as to appear as a single continuous shot through the use of long takes. It's a style I'm not used to seeing in film, and as such my concentration did drift slightly! Suspense intensifies with every minute, helped along by the fact that the trunk (with a corpse inside it) is never far from the view of the camera, and as events unfold in real time we watch as Phillip Morgan slowly but surely becomes a nervous wreck who is just about ready to confess! The film's absolutely worth a watch, although I didn't find it as gripping and as effective as any of the other Hitchcock films I've seen.

Rear Window

rear window

Other than Psycho, I would class this as my favourite Hitchcock film so far, and even Hitchcock himself modestly remarked that his batteries were 'fully charged' while making this film. Grace Kelly and James Stewart make a great on-screen couple, but for me the insurance nurse Stella McCaffery, played by Thelma Ritter, who gets some of the best lines in the whole film! Here are some examples:

+ "Intelligence. Nothing has caused the human race so much trouble as intelligence."

+ "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. Yes sir. How's that for a bit of homespun philosophy? "

+ Stella: "You heard of that market crash in '29? I predicted that."
Jeff: "Oh, just how did you do that, Stella?"
Stella: "Oh, simple. I was nursing a director of General Motors. Kidney ailment, they said. Nerves, I said. And I asked myself, "What's General Motors got to be nervous about?" Overproduction, I says; collapse. When General Motors has to go to the bathroom ten times a day, the whole country's ready to let go."

+ Inspiration from 18th-century Period Dramas

Hope the above inspiration-board helps you channel some opulent 18th century glamour.

Some of my favourite dramas are those set in centuries long gone. A prerequisite for such films is normally amazingly extravagant costumes constructed from yards of silk and taffeta, make-up to rival Photoshop's airbrushing and hairpieces that seem to defy gravity.

You know it's a good film when it makes you want to invent a time machine and go back to those days, just so you can wear unsuitably large evening gowns and squeeze into a corset daily.

I normally have an irky relationship with Keira Knightley films, sometimes I think she is an amazing actress and other times she comes across as a frozen dummy! Anyway, her 2008 film The Duchess did not disappoint. It is set in the 18th century and follows the personal misfortunes of Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, tormented by the duke who is eager for a male heir. It was a heart-wrenching film, where Georgiana turns to the future prime minister Charles Grey, maddened by the repression of her loveless marriage. The emotional turmoil is most evident in the scene where Georgiana must give up the baby produced during her affair. While not historically faithful in all cases, it excels in entertainment and escapism.

I love the luxury of period dramas, the opulent costumes, the expensive cinematography and did I mention the costumes?! While the female protagonists of such films have no control over their fate, hey, at least they have gorgeous clothes!