Nagging wives might see Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 Rear Window as a cautionary tale. Quit your bitching, or your husband might kill you and chop you up into little pieces in the bathtub. In real life, chances are no one will come along to foil the evil plot. In Rear Window, there’s nosy neighbor Jefferies, superbly played by James Stewart, to come to the rescue — in a manner of speaking. A magazine photographer who’s been sidelined with a broken leg, Jefferies passes the time by looking out his back window and watching his neighbors.
There’s Miss Lonely Hearts (a single woman with an imaginary boyfriend), Miss Torso (a beautiful ballet dancer) and The Salesman (played by an almost mute Raymond Burr, a man with an invalid, demanding wife). Jefferies finds the disappearance of The Salesman’s wife and his subsequent behavior extremely suspicious and enlists his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) to help him uncover the truth. The two women are polar opposites. Lisa is all perfume and chiffon, while Stella is sensible shoes and homespun wisdom.
It’s Hitchcock, so it’s beautiful. The music is wonderful (the soundtrack is a mixture of overheard snippets of music coming from other apartments and an orchestrated score). Kelly’s gowns are gorgeous creations by Edith Head. Each member of the cast turns in a stellar performance, even the ones playing bit parts as neighbors. If you can overlook Lisa’s irritating habit of only hearing what she wants to — hey Lisa, no, Jefferies does not want to marry you! — Rear Window is just about perfect. 11:55 p.m. River Oaks Theatre, 2009 West Gray. For information, call 713-866-8881 or visit www.landmarktheatres.com. $10.
Fri., March 30, 11:55 p.m.; Sat., March 31, 11:55 p.m., 2012
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