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Rear Window Ethics: Remembering and Restoring a Hitchcock Classic (2000) - transcript

 

Transcript for the documentary "Rear Window Ethics", based on the subtitle track from a DVD.

The following people appear in the transcript:

Transcript

Peter Bogdanovich
In "Rear Window", you see the best example of what Hitchcock's cinema stood for.

Curtis Hanson
James Stewart focuses on what's going on out there, and we're allowed to focus with him. We all become voyeurs, and we see these various dramas unfolding.

Patricia Hitchcock
The way that he was able to shoot that was just unbelievable.

Herbert Coleman
It was really a masterpiece of Hitchcock's construction.

Robert Harris
Generally, the more important the film, the worse condition the original negative and sound elements are going to be in. "Rear Window" is no different than many others.

James Katz
"Vertigo", "The Man Who Knew Too Much", "Trouble With Harry", We realised the horrible state these pictures were in. If something wasn't done about them, they were gonna be lost forever.

Curtis Hanson
If one were to ask, "What are the movies of Alfred Hitchcock like?" Somebody that knew nothing about movies. You could show them "Rear Window", and in a sense, touch on everything in Hitchcock. You would immediately see his technical brilliance. You would see his ability to tell a story in a uniquely captivating way. You certainly have his humour. And thematically, you deal with voyeurism, you deal with guilt, you deal with relationships, you deal with sexuality. It's all there in "Rear Window".

Peter Bogdanovich
"Rear Window" is sort of Hitchcock's testament film. I think it's a French term meaning that, in "Rear Window", perhaps you see the best example of what Hitchcock's cinema, at its best, stood for, which was, essentially, the use of the subjective point of view. You have a shot of Jimmy Stewart, you show what he's looking at, you see his reaction. The entire movie is based on that. He looks, you see what he sees, he reacts. That is kind of the heart of Hitchcock's film making. He has the incredible ability to put you in the point of view of the leading character or whatever character. And he does it with considerable dexterity. It's particularly noticeable in "Rear Window" where the entire picture plays in one apartment.

Alfred Hitchcock (interview)
You can have a man look, you can have him see something, react to it. You can make him react in various ways. You can make him... look at one thing, look at another. Without him speaking, you can show his mind at work comparing things. It's limitless, I would say, the power of cutting and showing various images. The assembly of them, you know. The juxtaposition of imagery relating to the mind of the individual.

Herbert Coleman
It was really a masterpiece of Hitchcock's construction. He worked on the script with the writer, as he always did. The writers liked to work with him too, because he was stimulating. His ideas were always visual, cinematic. He never took a screen credit for writing. But I'd say he contributed at least half of the plot, working out the plot.

Patricia Hitchcock
He knew a lot about crime. He had a fascination for English crime. In fact, one of his crime things was... he used part of it in "Rear Window"... was Dr Crippen. This was a famous, famous English case where he fell in love with the secretary and killed the wife and buried the wife in the back yard. Then, he took the secretary on a boat to get away and dressed the secretary up as a sailor. The thing was that the captain said, later on, he had wondered why these two, these two sailors, were very friendly towards each other. That's how they caught Dr Crippen. But he loved them. He had a whole set of stories at home.

"Rear Window" was based on a short story entitled "It Had To Be Murder" published in 1942. It was written by Cornell Woolwich. His real name was William Irish. Many of his books were made into movies. My father hired John Michael Hayes to adapt the short story. Mr Hayes was a man of radio who had impressed my dad with his appreciation and knowledge of "Shadow Of A Doubt". He went on to write four films for my father. The screenplay of "Rear Window" is very different from the book. The story was transposed to Manhattan for the film. The most important element missing in the short story is the romance, which plays a major role in the film.

James Katz
In the short story, it was just the Raymond Burr murdering his wife, and Jimmy Stewart watching. That was the only story. There was no Grace Kelly, there was no Thelma Ritter, no Miss Torso, no composer. There was nothing. It was just that story. So all of these little scenes came together to make this work.

Curtis Hanson
There's that ridiculous comment about actors being cattle, or whatever, that is attributed to Hitchcock. Be that as it may, the performances in "Rear Window", from top to bottom, are brilliant, absolutely brilliant, as they were in many of Hitchcock's pictures.

Patricia Hitchcock
Jimmy Stewart, who made quite a lot of pictures with my father. My father loved him, because Jimmy represented the ordinary man. So a man that goes to see that picture can identify with Jimmy Stewart, whereas a lot of others, he couldn't. Jimmy was a very sweet, kind person. Actually, there was not a lot of difference between Jimmy the actor and Jimmy the person. What you saw was what you got with him.

Herbert Coleman
I had never worked with Jimmy Stewart before he came to Paramount to do "Rear Window". I found Jimmy Stewart to be a charming man, to men as well as women. He was easy to like, easy to work with, and always carried his screenplay under his arm when he wasn't in a scene, and always was prepared when he walked on the set. He was the kindest man, and everybody was very fond of Jimmy Stewart. He and Hitch were like brothers. You could even occasionally see a little smile appear on Hitchcock's face when he and Jimmy were together.

Patricia Hitchcock
He and my father got along so well. I really think that "Rear Window" was one of their happiest pictures.

Grace Kelly was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known. I think my father's feeling about Grace was she epitomised what he thought of the cool blond with the fire beneath. She and my father were very close, and my mother. I can remember going over on Sundays and Grace was over, and it would all depend on who she was going with at that particular time. But she was a brilliant actress. He could just tell her in a few words, what he wanted, and she was able to give it to him. She was very, very talented.

Herbert Coleman
I fell in love with her the moment I saw her on that set of "Dial M for Murder". Everybody fell in love with her. Everybody fell in love with Grace Kelly who were fortunate enough to work with her. She was actually, I think, the most beautiful woman I ever saw in my life on film. There is a close-up of her in "Rear Window", when she comes to see Jimmy. It's her introductory shot in the picture. This is the most beautiful shot of a woman I’ve ever seen in my life.

Curtis Hanson
There are two questions that confront James Stewart's character, Jefferies, in "Rear Window". One is, What's going on in his personal life? Is he going to marry Grace Kelly or not? And what's going on outside the window of his apartment, in the windows of all the apartments across the way? To some degree, to avoid looking at his own problem, he focuses on what's going on out there, and we're allowed to focus with him.

We all become voyeurs, and we see these various dramas unfolding that are all, in one way or anther, illustrating life in relationships for better or ill. The people who want a relationship and can't have one, Miss Lonelyhearts, the couple across the way that are fighting all the time, the newlyweds that are apparently having sex all the time. We are watching Grace Kelly come into his apartment and present the promise of a relationship that could be unbelievably good, but he is resisting.

Robin Wood
Jefferies, and, at times, other characters, use the apartments opposite as a kind of cinema screen. And they do what I think most of us do when we watch movies, they partly identify with other people, they partly compare their lives to other people's lives. They use these lives to talk about their own lives in various ways.

Peter Bogdanovich
So you could say that Stewart has a lot of different choices in the movie. The original story doesn't have a love interest, but that seems to be the thing that interests Hitchcock the most.

Herbert Coleman
The scenes between Jimmy Stewart and Thelma Ritter... She was just marvellous in it. She revealed a lot of the life of Jimmy Stewart in those scenes with Jimmy. You didn't know much about him until she started playing those scenes.

Patricia Hitchcock
The humour that Thelma Ritter brought to "Rear Window" was absolutely wonderful. My father loved that, because he knew that you couldn't keep going. You had to give the audience a break. You had to have them laugh at something. His whole life was the importance of having a sense of humour in whatever you do.

Curtis Hanson
The thing that we all loved about Hitchcock forever, is his ability to deal with these very grim subjects, to deal with our darkest fears and emotions, but deal with them with humour.

Patricia Hitchcock
All the different characters were so well cast. They had Thelma Ritter, Wendell Corey, and of course, Ray Burr as the murderer.

Herbert Coleman
When Mr Hitchcock started casting the picture, he left certain parts for me to cast. He cast the very important ones, like Raymond Burr and his wife, the composer, Ross Bagdasarian and Miss Lonelyhearts, and the couple with the little dog, and left the others for me to cast. I cast them all from people that had worked with me in the past.

Mr Hitchcock said he wanted a ballet dancer to do the part of Miss Torso. But he said, "I don't want her to appear as a professional ballet dancer." He said, "When you find the right person, don't you dare let her go to the dance department, and rehearse or be taught steps... for the scenes she's going to be doing over there. I want you to give her a record of the music and let her figure out her own moves and things."

Georgine Darcy
Hitchcock left the choreography up to me. It was kind of, like, wing it. He was not very... He didn't care too much about getting everything perfect. I think he liked to see a little of whatever you had to do. I remember going to a bungalow one day with the music and Herbie Coleman, who was the assistant director. I remember saying, "I'm so scared. I don't want to do this. I need a choreographer." He said, "No, you're gonna be fine."

Herbert Coleman
She says, "I'm scared to death. I haven't the slightest idea what to do." So I had to go over there with her and talk to her. I said, "I'm not gonna try to tell you what ballet steps to do, certainly not a rehearsed kind of a step."

Georgine Darcy
I went and I fiddled around and came up with a couple of steps.

Herbert Coleman
He saw the routine and thought it was great.

Patricia Hitchcock
I think Edith Head was one of the most important people that my father worked with. And he thought the same way. My father did, as far as costumes in a movie was concerned, and especially with Edith Head... He felt that the costumes' colour, style, everything, had to help the scene. It was all part of the feeling and the character. He didn't just say, "Oh, wear this."

He and Edith worked terribly closely together on the costumes long before he really cast the picture.

Georgine Darcy
Edith Head designed all the clothes that I wore. Whatever was left of them. Not too much. They painted every inch of my body every day. I mean, I came to work the next day sometimes with still some of it left on me, because I couldn't reach all the parts that they covered.

Patricia Hitchcock
I can remember going on the set of "Rear Window", and it was fascinating. I think of all the pictures that he made, that was the most fascinating set to go on, because you literally saw all the different apartments, all the different people.

Henry Bumstead
Mac Johnson was the art director on "Rear Window" Mac came in and told me about this picture, and how was he gonna do it. He had to do this whole courtyard, and we didn't have stages that high. So I suggested to him... Paramount wasn't a real large studio. Two or three of the stages we stored furniture underneath. I told Mac, "Why don't you cut the floor out?"

Herbert Coleman
They were gonna cut the floor out, remove everything that was in the basement and make Jimmy Stewart's second-floor room on the actual stage level. The lawns and the first floor were gonna be the basement floor.

Henry Bumstead
He said, "They wouldn't let me do that, would they?" I said, "I bet they will for Hitchcock." Sure enough they did. They let him.

Doc Erickson
The set went from the bottom of that basement to the grids. It was an enormous problem for the lighting crew and very hot for anybody who had to work up there at the top, because we didn't have the same kind of lighting we have today. We didn't have the same film, the same camera lenses. So all of it conspired against us. It was really an enormous task. The people who had to work up there took a beating, and the actors took a beating up there too.

James Katz
In fact, we found this out from Georgine Darcy the other day, that the set was lit for four periods of the day.

Georgine Darcy
They had for the morning, the afternoon, twilight and then at night-time. So they didn't have to do changing all the lights for every shot. They would just,"night-time". All the lights would change automatically. It was wonderful. It was like a little city. There was Hitchcock in a big old dollhouse that he was playing with. But it was a great set. People came from all over the world to view it and to take pictures of it. I think it had been written up in Life or Look magazine.

Of course, you know we wore the little earpieces. We could not talk back to Mr Hitchcock, but he could talk to us. One day, Hitchcock called me and he said he wanted me to watch something. He was getting ready to shoot the scene of the couple on the fire escape. They had a mattress on the fire escape, and it started to rain. He told the wife to take her earpiece out, and he gave the direction to the husband. Then he asked the husband to take his out, and he gave the direction to the wife. Now he turned around and he winked. He said, "Now watch this."

He'd given them both different directions. The husband was pulling the mattress to one window. The wife was pulling the mattress to the other one. They were going back and forth and were fighting. Finally, he pulled the mattress and somebody fell into the window. It was quite funny and real. Those are the kinds of things he would do.

Peter Bogdanovich
One of his great talents, of course, was that he saw the film in his head and knew just where to be at every moment. There was a reason why he was where he was. One of the great things about Hitchcock is... and most of the great directors, but Hitchcock is a notable example of a director who's always got the camera in the right place for each given moment, and it's always there for a reason. lt's not there arbitrarily or because it might be nice to shoot from there now. It’s never decorative and never just frivolous. It’s always with a point and a reason.

The two greatest schools of cinema in the silent era were the American and the German. Because he was trained by the Americans and the Germans, he understood that telling a story visually was what movies were about. So you can see, in all his films, he's striving to tell the story visually. In "Rear Window", you introduce Jimmy Stewart with his broken leg, you see a broken camera, you see that he's a photographer, you see a magazine cover, et cetera, all done in one continuous shot, as I remember, where you are told this is what you're seeing. This is what he is, and the audience understands it, as a result, very quickly. That's, again, really good storytelling and what Hitchcock was particularly good at.

Patricia Hitchcock
He had already, in his mind, made that movie. He had already drawn every single shot. So he always said, when he got on the set, that it was a little boring making the picture.

Herbert Coleman
Everything was in the screenplay. The cameraman knew all the time what he was expected to deliver on the film. When Mr Hitchcock walked in in the morning, the camera was usually all ready to go, the lights were set, the actors were in place, and they were all ready to go.

Patricia Hitchcock
The way that he was able to shoot that, looking in at all the different apartments, was just unbelievable. And that's why it was so fascinating being on the set. You literally saw these apartments. They were all real. People were in them. It was fascinating.

Robin Wood
What I think is being shown here, seems to be one of the absolutely central themes of all Hitchcock's work. This goes right back to British period. It goes right through the American films. The terrible incompatibility of male and female positions, as they've been defined and have evolved within our culture.

The man's viewpoint is one thing. The woman's is always another. And with all this is the idea of romantic love, what Miss Lonelyhearts is longing for, what the newlyweds were expecting, what Lisa wants. Hitchcock's view of romantic love is extremely sceptical, to say the least.

Curtis Hanson
Hitchcock had a very complicated relationship with food, and here in "Rear Window", you have Grace Kelly, one of the most beautiful actresses ever to grace the screen, playing one of the most incredibly idealised females in movie history, and she's having to be seducing James Stewart by demonstrating her ability to provide food to him. She literally brings almost a restaurant into that apartment to cater to his every whim.

Peter Bogdanovich
Stewart's character in "Rear Window", like a lot of Hitchcock characters, is rather ambiguous. He's wrong a number of times. He seems to be wrong about Grace Kelly. It's interesting that the biggest close-up that Hitchcock gives Jimmy Stewart is at that moment when she gets finally interested in the murder, and actually when she risks her life and comes back very excited from having gone over there. He looks at her with tremendous affection at that moment, because she's become adventurous, and he's an adventurer.

It’s almost as though he's testing her, and she's doing what she does, in a way, to get his affection.

Peter Bogdanovich (interview)
Isn't Grace Kelly the dominant partner in the relationship? In that film, she actually does everything. He's basically impotent in the picture.

Alfred Hitchcock (interview)
To put it mildly. She's a very active... She's a typical, active New York woman. There are many of those in New York, work for Harper's Bazaar. They're almost like men, some of these women.

Herbert Coleman
Mr Hitchcock always discussed the scene with the cameraman first. He would tell them what lens to use and what he wanted to include in the scene.

Doc Erickson
Bob Burks was a wonderful talent and a hard-working, lovely man. He was enjoyable to be around. He had been with Hitch for several films and had perfect knowledge of what Hitch required. He worked very hard, took it very seriously, sometimes too seriously. He would almost get sick over shots he was trying to accomplish for Hitch. But a wonderful man and a very great talent.

Leonard South
Shooting in Jimmy's apartment was very difficult, because it was small. It wasn't big. Hitch never liked to use wide-angle lenses. The lens that Hitch liked to use was a 50 millimetre. That's about what your eyes see.

Curtis Hanson
Everything we see in that story is told from either James Stewart's point of view, or there's that very dramatic moment where Hitchcock takes the audience into his confidence, and says, "l am now showing you something that James Stewart, who's asleep, is not seeing." It lets us get ahead of James Stewart. That's Hitchcock's recipe for suspense because now we're going, "Oh, my God. What's gonna happen when James Stewart, who, up till now has been us, finds out what we know?" This is Hitchcock's genius of making us complicit in what's going on.

Alfred Hitchcock (interview)
I always remember, Lejeune of the Observer, called it a horrible film, 'cos a man was looking in windows. I thought it was a crappy remark, because who cares about that kind of thing? Because everybody is tainted. A known fact, you know. Providing you don't make it too vulgar. Keep it to a point of curiosity. People, don't care who you are, cannot resist it.

Herbert Coleman
In the screenplay there was a scene in Jimmy Stewart's boss's office. His name was Gunnison. I didn't think they should ever go away from the Greenwich Village set. I remember that day that he finished the dictation to John Michael Hayes. We walked into the office, and Mr Hitchcock said, "Mr Coleman, I think we need to salute the screenplay of "Rear Window". What do you think about the screenplay?" I said, "I only have one comment, Mr Hitchcock. I don't think you should ever go away from the Greenwich Village set. I think you shouldn't use Gunnison's office." We discussed it a couple of minutes.

It was the last I heard of it, until the day we had finished shooting a scene with Jimmy Stewart on the big set in his apartment. I'd sent Jimmy home, and we were moving to the new stage, where Gunnison's office had been built. Mr Hitchcock and I were walking together on the way to the new set when he stopped and said... By this time we were now "Hitch" and "Herbie". "Herbie, do you still have the same feeling about Gunnison's office? I said, "Yes, Hitch, I do. I don't think you should ever go away from the Greenwich Village set." He said, "Cancel it. We won't shoot it." I said I thought we should go ahead and shoot it, because the actors are there, the set's been built, and you'll have the dialogue in case you ever want to let the audience hear Gunnison's voice. So we went over and shot the scenes, but we never used it in the picture. Just Gunnison's voice.

Robin Wood
I think one of Hitchcock's central concerns is the isolation of people within our society. The apartments reflect the sense that everybody is in a prison. Each person is in his or her own little prison. That all comes to a head, of course, in what I see as the crucial scene of the film, from this point of view anyway. The scene where the woman comes out on her balcony and sees her dog has been killed and accuses all the neighbours. It’s a kind of central statement, I think, in Hitchcock, is this whole idea of people not being able to reach out.

Peter Bogdanovich
You think of several films of his which were very limited in terms of... in terms of, um, the location. "Rope" all plays in one apartment. "Lifeboat" all plays in a lifeboat. "Dial M for Murder", basically, with very few exceptions, plays in the London flat of Grace Kelly and Ray Milland. "Rear Window" all plays in Jimmy Stewart's room. Of course, there was a whole world going on out there and you see just a little part of the street, but he really doesn't go out into the courtyard. Once or twice, but always in long shot, or, certainly, wide shots. Even when the dog is killed, when he does cut a little bit closer. He liked to limit himself in that way.

Curtis Hanson
In "Rear Window", Hitchcock uses very sparing, precise sounds and music to create the sounds and atmosphere of the world in which that story takes place, a world that is defined by that courtyard.

Peter Bogdanovich
You basically had no score. The only score, the only music, was when somebody was playing music across the way. Somebody would be listening to a record, and you'd hear it. Or somebody was playing the piano. Other than that, there was no score, which was a very unusual, and at that time, rather daring soundtrack. It gives a kind of verisimilitude and a sense that nobody's intruding on this, that this is real. And Hitchcock was aware of that.

James Katz
The interesting thing is how he shot it in order to get the sound quality that he did. He actually shot live sound from Jimmy Stewart's point of view to capture the distance between the window Stewart was sitting in and the various apartments across the way. So there's that hollow sound in there which is pretty genuine.

John Waxman
"Rear Window" was the last of four pictures that Franz Waxman composed scores for Hitchcock films. First was "Rebecca" in 1940, which was followed by "Suspicion" in 1941, and then "The Paradine Case" and finally, "Rear Window". The score comes two years after "A Place In The Sun", which was an Academy Award-winning score, also with Paramount, with its famous saxophone love theme, lush love theme for Elizabeth Taylor. It was, historically, today, considered one of the first jazz scores. In a way, "Rear Window" is a little bit in that idiom. It opens with a jazz, which is supposed to be the streets of Greenwich Village circa 1950s.

There is one cue from "A Place In The Sun", the famous "Farewell and Frenzy" cue, and he re-recorded it for "Rear Window". The use of source music was not uncommon in films. In those days, if they used source music, in the case of "Rear Window", Paramount's publishing arm, which was Famous Music, they took a famous or popular song at the time, like "That's Amore". So you do hear "That's Amore" in one scene. So in that sense, a composer was given the company music catalogue, and said, "Choose here."

The song, "Lisa," is an integral part of the development of the story where a piece is being put together before your very eyes and ears. It begins where a struggling songwriter is trying to find the melody and the harmony and develop something. Throughout the course of the film, he finds the song, which you finally hear, full-blown, at the end. Miss Lonelyhearts, a very tragic character, who is across the courtway from Jimmy Stewart, is inspired by this and hearing this music actually saves her life.

Curtis Hanson
One of the reasons his movies last as well as they do is not only his technical brilliance, obviously, but it's Hitchcock's humanity, Hitchcock's ability to deal with Everyman. Hitchcock finds humanity, even in his darkest villains. There's something always sympathetic. Norman Bates is an incredibly sympathetic character to me, certainly the way Anthony Perkins portrayed him. Even in "Rear Window", where we only know Raymond Burr from peeping through his window from across the courtyard. We begin to suspect this man. We ultimately become afraid of him, but at the same time, you find yourself being oddly sympathetic with him and feel that he was trapped in that life over there and driven to what he did.

Peter Bogdanovich (interview)
In that film, we're on Stewart's side, because basically, you have made us, the audience, Peeping Toms too.

Alfred Hitchcock (interview)
Definitely.

Peter Bogdanovich (interview)
lsn't there something rather pathetic and rather sympathetic about the murderer's confrontation at the end?

Alfred Hitchcock (interview)
There is.

Peter Bogdanovich (interview)
Stewart doesn't even answer him.

Alfred Hitchcock (interview)
He can't. The poor man, you know. It’s the climax of the Peeping Tomism, isn't it?

Peter Bogdanovich (interview)
Yes. Why did you do it?

Alfred Hitchcock (interview)
If you hadn't been a Peeping Tom, l'd have gotten away.

Peter Bogdanovich (interview)
At that point, for the first time, one says to oneself, "That Stewart's a bit of a bastard." You feel for Burr. He says, "Why'd you do that?" and Stew doesn't answer.

Alfred Hitchcock (interview)
He can't. What can he say?

Peter Bogdanovich (interview)
He's really caught, in a sense, he's caught with his pants down.

Alfred Hitchcock (interview)
Caught with his plaster down.

Robin Wood
I think another of Hitchcock's concerns is the way in which people build these protective facades around themselves, and claim this as their identity. It's a way of defending themselves against the unpredictability and chaos... of life. All the things we don't understand, not simply in the world, but within ourselves. Jefferies has this. Certainly his job, his camera. Jefferies uses the camera at the end as his protection against Thorwald, the camera being a symbol of his whole existence, and the inadequacy of that becomes clear. The flashes hold Thorwald back, but they don't stop him. They delay it, but they don't stop him.

Herbert Coleman
Soon after the finish of the screenplay, I got worried about the scenes when Raymond Burr comes to kill Jimmy Stewart, and Jimmy Stewart had nothing to protect himself with except flashbulbs. So I decided to have a test with Bob Burks and Hitch there, and John Fulton, the special effects head, and a few other people there. I'd get their impression of what Raymond Burr would see when Jimmy Stewart flashed the flashbulb in his face.

I arranged a meeting in the art department. I had a still man there with flashbulbs, and I had him flash those bulbs in our faces, and then ask everybody what they saw as a result of that flash in their eyes. We all agreed that we saw kind of a faint yellow mist. Everybody agreed this mist just blocked out everything. And we went away. One day I got a call from John Fulton. He'd like to show this to us. So I got Bob Burks and the people who'd been involved in this, I went to see it, and I didn't tell Hitch about it. What I saw on the screen, I couldn't believe. Floating through the air were rings. They looked to be about an inch wide and like a hoop. They were all different colours floating through the air and none of the effect we saw at all.

When it was over, I said to John, "I'm not gonna let Mr Hitchcock think that this is the kind of work that John Fulton turns out." We insisted that Mr Fulton redo the colour that came over the faces, and it turned out to be, what was finally used, a faint red colour.

Alfred Hitchcock (interview)
In "Rear Window", where Jimmy Stewart is thrown out of the window at the end, I just photographed that with feet, legs, arms, heads. Completely montage. I also photographed it from a distance. There was no comparison between the two. There never is, you know? Bar room fights or whatever they do in Westerns when they knock the heavy, or one man knocks another across a table, which breaks. They all break a table in bars. Or the railing. They're always shot at a distance. But it's much more effective if it's done in montage, cos you involve the audience much more. That's the secret of that type of montage in films.

Curtis Hanson
I've heard the story, I don't know if it's true, that when they finished the editing of the picture, They took all the trims and outakes and just put them all on one reel. That's how few trims there were.

Herbert Coleman
He only shot a scene up to a certain point. Then he would change the angle of the camera, and start back maybe a few frames and start the new scene. Then he would stop and go to another one. That's the way he shot his pictures.

Robin Wood
What the film eventually moves to at the end, is a kind of resolution of the Jefferies-Lisa relationship. A lot of people have found it cynical because Lisa, although she's dressed in adventure-type clothes, presumably ready to take off with Jefferies on some expedition, and is reading a book called "Beyond The High Himalayas" or something like that, puts it aside when she sees he's asleep and picks up Harper's Bazaar. It seems to me what Hitchcock is saying is not exactly cynical. It’s realistic. Male and female positions are, within the culture, incompatible, within the culture as it exists today. And to a great extent it exists now. Lisa is showing us, at the end, that she must retain a certain perspective of her own and interests of her own, that she will not abandon her own interests in life and her values in life for his. I think that's wonderful.

Herbert Coleman
The last day of filming on stage 17, at Paramount on "Rear Window", really was a very sad day for all of us because we had been on that picture for a long, long time. We'd all become very close friends. I remember they opened the big doors, and Grace Kelly and Hitch and Bob Burks and I all walked out at the same time. There was a slight rain coming down. We all stopped and looked back at the set. All the lights were going out in various places on the set until there was complete darkness inside. And Ray said, "You know, it's almost like leaving home, to leave this stage."

Robert Harris
A real restoration is gathering together all the materials that exist on a film throughout the world, going through each of them, and bringing together the best of those elements, both picture and sound, to create a preservation negative, which can, in effect, take the place of the original, which is either unusable, or parts are unusable.

James Katz
The project started when we actually acquired the films for Universal in 1984. "The Man Who Knew Too Much", "Trouble With Harry" and "Rope". We bought the films from the Hitchcock Foundation, actually, leased them for a period of five years at that time. But it was at that time, when Bob and I got together, we realised the horrible state all these pictures were in, and that if something wasn't done about them, they were gonna be lost forever.

Robert Harris
One of the interesting things about films, especially classic films, is that, generally, the more important the film, the better the film, the worse condition the original negative and sound elements are going to be in. "Rear Window" is no different than many others. Normally, in large-format films, "Spartacus" and "Lawrence Of Arabia" and...

James Katz
"My Fair Lady" and "Vertigo"...

Robert Harris
...any film shot in 65 millimetre, all of the original prints were made from the original camera negative. But 4-perf 35, which is the way "Rear Window" was shot... It’s unusual when you get into the '50s and '60s that they would have used an original camera negative from which to create a number of prints. But to our horror, when we first pulled the original camera negative out, we found that there were 389 release prints made from the camera negative.

During the '50s and '60s, before wet-gate printing, a lab would put a lacquer on the original negative, and they'd run it, make as many prints as they needed. When the lacquer began to get scratched, they would remove the lacquer and relacquer it. When that would get scratched, they'd relacquer it again. But when they removed the lacquer from "Rear Window", they actually stripped away about 40% of the yellow layer.

One of the things that held us up initially was that we had to come up with an entirely new preservation concept of replacing only the yellow layer to an original negative where it was gone. This was done without computers. We did it in league with Pacific Title.

James Katz
One of the things we deal with all the time on these restorations is whether we go for sharpness or colour. When you deal with a close-up, such as the entrance of Grace Kelly into the picture, one of the great entrances into a film, we're really trying to deal with sharpness to the nth degree. This was a particularly difficult shot. It’s the shot where we see her moving toward Jimmy Stewart and then moving into the slow-motion kiss. These are moments that are of such impact in a film that we want to make them as perfect as we can.

Robert Harris
And that shot was gone. It was actually gone by 1962, in the film's first reissue, which was actually in dye transfer. And the colour is bad in 1962. By the time we got the negative, the yellow layer was 90% gone. We printed the shot, and it came out a wonderful shade of orange-green. This was why we had to take six months and work out a way of putting back that yellow layer.

James Katz
We tried to go through camera reports. We'd look at all of the extras that were in the film. We'd try and find the set designers. We'd try and find the publicists who were working on the film, because they had an overview of the picture at that point, and they also had a lot of information about how it played to the audiences of the day and can give us a real comparison. We talked to the director's assistants. We'd talk to the director if we can. But the last few films we've done, we've unfortunately not had a director to work with. These are all important, not only to this record that we try to keep, but it also addresses the ethical side of film restorations, which is: Should we change something? Can we change something? Do we have the right? This gives us an insight into, in this case, Hitchcock's point of view on the film.

James Katz
We're gonna play this to audiences who don't know how it ends. Those are the best audiences, because that's when you see the value of this film, and you see how these Hitchcock films hold up over the years from the standpoint of dialogue, from the standpoint of acting, from the standpoint of concept, from the standpoint of directing. They're really pieces of our heritage, and they have to be saved, because what's going to happen to our grandchildren or our great-grandchildren? They're not going to be able to see these. This is why we try to impress on studio executives that they are just the guardians of these films. They're like curators of a museum. Sure they have to make it pay, sure they have to balance their books, sure they have to come up with new concepts, but they also have to maintain their libraries. They have to maintain the heritage of the industry.

Robert Harris
A lot of entities use the term "restoration" as a marketing tool. It not only damages the concept of film restoration worldwide, but it damages the films and is shortening the lives of the films that people are saying are restored when, in fact, they're not, because no one's gonna bother to restore them.

James Katz
It’s something that takes a very long time to do, the quality of restorations that we do, and to maintain the standards that we've set for ourselves, in an industry, by the way, that has no standards. There is no standards whatsoever in the restoration community. This is something that we're trying to address, and it's been very, very difficult.

Curtis Hanson
"Rear Window" is one of those pictures where you just feel that everything in that movie is perfectly realised, exactly the way that Hitchcock imagined it. We are able to be, in a sense, caught up in the storytelling, on the one hand, but also overwhelmed by its perfection on the other.

Peter Bogdanovich
I think "Rear Window" was a film that he liked and was fond of and proud of. I think "Rear Window" shows him at the absolute peak of his powers. I think it's also the beginning of his last great period. I think from there on, he really doesn't make a wrong move.

Peter Bogdanovich (interview)
Someone said there are two kinds of people. There are people who are voyeurs or people who observe the world that passes by, and there are people who are active, adventurers who are part of the world. Would you say you are a person who observes?

Alfred Hitchcock (interview)
Observes, sure.

Peter Bogdanovich (interview)
So you must, in a way, identify with Jimmy Stewart's character.

Alfred Hitchcock (interview)
Possibly. Yeah, sure.

Peter Bogdanovich
I was visiting him at the St Regis. I think it was when Marnie was opening in '64. We had a few drinks in his room. Then we went to the elevator. We were going down. We get into the elevator, and there was silence from the 24th floor to the 18th floor. On the 18th floor, three people come in dressed for dinner. Hitch turns to me out of the blue and says, "It was quite horrible, you know. He was lying there in a pool of blood. There was blood coming out of his ear, blood coming out of his nose." I thought, "What on Earth is he talking about?"

I mean, you know... I'd had a little drink, and I thought maybe I missed something. I felt like an idiot. I'm listening to him. Then the doors open on the 15th floor more people come in. He goes on with his, "It was really quite horrible, you know. There was blood everywhere, all over the walls. I said, 'Good God, man! What's happened to you?' And do you know what he said to me?"

At this point, just as he says that, the doors open to the lobby. So everybody in the elevator who knew who he was, anyway, cause he was very well-known, sort of hesitated, you know? They didn't want to leave the elevator. They wanted to hear what happened. Of course, he didn't say a word. They all had to get out of the elevator. Hitch just walks right by them. They're all kind of clustered near the front of the elevator, listening. He didn't say anything. He starts walking across the lobby.

I'm completely confused. I don't know what's going on. I said, "What did he say, Hitch?" He said, "What? Oh, nothing. That's just my elevator story." Obviously, that was something he did quite often in elevators just to amuse himself.