Goodreads, Mayhem, Rear Window

First two very inter­est­ing reviews of Mr. Peanut on goodreads.com, one by Mike, the other by Krok Zero. I’d read the latter’s some time ago. He’s a fan­tas­tic writer and, if he’s not already a pub­lished critic under another name, he should be. As for Mike’s, well, it trans­ported me to grad­u­ate school, to my Hitch­cock class with Richard Dil­lard, and the dizzy­ing won­der I expe­ri­enced watch­ing those films for the first time.

Speak­ing of Hitch­cock, it was my great plea­sure to intro­duce Rear Win­dow at the Bookhampton’s May­hem fes­ti­val at Guild Hall in East Hamp­ton, NY, this past week­end and then kick back and watch the restored version.

Grace Kelly, in my opin­ion, remains the most lumi­nes­cent movie star of all time, and after falling in love with her yet again, I had these thoughts on the film:

*Jef­feries’ casual cru­elty toward Lisa over din­ner is as brac­ing as Devlin’s toward Ali­cia Huber­man in Noto­ri­ous. I can only imag­ine what a cold slap these scenes must’ve seemed like to women when these movies premiered. 

*The artists in Rear Win­dow are fig­ured forth as both trapped and lib­er­ated. While strug­gling with his melody, the song­writer is reg­u­larly framed behind bars; unlike Jef­feries, his cre­ativ­ity is not com­pul­sive or neurotic. 

Inter­est­ingly, when the song­writer gets together with Miss Lonely Hearts at the end, he’s sep­a­rated from her by his win­dow frame just as the Thorwald’s are sep­a­rated by their gutter.



 

The Dog Peo­ple, too, are framed behind bars, so that con­ju­gal love, for Hitch, is fig­ured as a form of entrap­ment and, at times, insur­mount­able, killing dis­tance; it’s also, of course, a source of vital rep­e­ti­tion, habit, and sus­tain­ing warmth.

*After Lisa describes her­self and Jef­feries as “ter­ri­fy­ing ghouls” she kisses his neck and, shot from behind, is like a vam­pire suck­ing his blood.

*The lan­guage through­out of role-playing/moviemaking (“I love funny exit lines,” “Read­ing top to bot­tom: Lisa. Carol. Freemont,” “Okay, chief, what’s my next assign­ment?”) cou­pled with Lisa’s var­i­ous cos­tumes and the recur­rent part­ner swap­ping both wit­nessed and implied in this world sug­gest Hitch’s con­vic­tion that iden­tity is entirely fluid.

*When Jef­feries watches his neigh­bors alone he is happy, tit­il­lated, engrossed; in Lisa’s pres­ence (Miss Lonely Heart’s near date-rape) he is ashamed.

*When Jef­feries’ neigh­bor mourns her dog’s mur­der and angrily screams, “Did you kill him because he liked you?” she may as well have been whis­per­ing in Jef­feries’ ear, for that is the very thing he’s doing to Lisa.

*It may be argued that the whole movie is struc­tured as the mak­ing of a pop song, a roman­tic, schmaltzy ditty enti­tled Lisa, which hides the mur­der­ous, banal, nec­es­sary, and ubiq­ui­tous ambiva­lences that lie beneath con­ju­gal rela­tion­ships. The movie cer­tainly attests to human frailty and our inabil­ity to tol­er­ate soli­tude (Miss Torso’s Queen Bee behav­ior in her husband’s absence; Miss Lonely Heart’s con­stant pur­suit of a com­pan­ion and her near sui­cide after repeat fail­ures; the songwriter’s inspi­ra­tion, the “Lisa” who is his muse, either real or imag­ined). Unques­tion­ably Hitch’s images argue that rela­tion­ships are cycli­cal. Jef­feries begins the movie asleep and is asleep at its end; the Dog Peo­ple have bought a new dog; the new­ly­weds are fight­ing; Miss Lonely Hearts and the song­writer are woo­ing each other but are framed like the Thorwalds.

More soon.