Today I got the new Universal Legacy edition of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. It’s one of my favorite movies, and I actually have never owned it on DVD. I can only judge by the version I’ve seen on TV and VHS, but I can definitely see an improvement in the sharpness, the colors, and the clarity. The special features were also fascinating, however they were included on earlier editions, so they won’t be anything new if you already have it on DVD.

I’m not an expert in film restoration, so I won’t try to break down the differences compared to other editions. Some people criticize that the new version is too grainy, and I can see what they are saying, but I personally like this better. Here’s a before and after comparison so you can see the difference from older DVD versions of Rear Window:

An interesting fact about the movie is how the stage was built. It was filmed inside, as most movies were back then. The challenge was that Hitchcock wanted a complete set that appears in New York’s Greenwich Village. All of the apartments were actual rooms, and there is even an outside courtyard, alley, and busy street in the background.

Paramount Studios simply didn’t have a way to do this inside. The ceilings were not tall enough to build anything close to what Hitchcock wanted. So to meet his requests, they actually pulled up the floor and assembled a fake courtyard in the basement! What you see on the “ground” level is actually underground, and the main apartments where James Stewart lives are the 1st floor.

The top levels were at the very height of the studio ceilings, so the lighting crew and some of the cast members were absolutely miserable because it was so hot up there. But as always, Hitchcock knew exactly what he wanted and I think it was worth it. The set really does make the movie. Rear Window is on the list of AFI’s Top 100 movies and will always be one of the best in my book.

Purr Purr Hitchcock

Aug 19, 2008 / Filed in Hitchcock / 2 Comments

Purr Purr pays tribute to Alfred Hitchcock.

Hitchcock Marathon

Sep 14, 2007 / Filed in Hitchcock, Movies, TV / 1 Comment

If you’re a fan of Alfred Hitchcock like I am, prepare yourself for a Hitchcock overload this coming week. Some of his greatest works are going to be playing on AMC, starting this Sunday night!

All times are Eastern:

The Birds
– Mon, Sep 17, 8:00 PM
– Tue, Sep 18, 5:30 PM

Dial M for Murder
– Sun, Sep 16, 10:30 PM
– Mon, Sep 17, 3:15 PM

Family Plot
– Fri, Sep 21, 10:15 PM

– Wed, Sep 19, 10:45 PM
– Thu, Sep 20, 2:15 PM

The Man Who Knew Too Much
– Thu, Sep 20, 7:30 PM
– Fri, Sep 21, 2:45 PM

– Wed, Sep 19, 8:00 PM
– Thu, Sep 20, 4:45 PM

– Sat, Sep 22, 8:00 PM
– Sun, Sep 23, 8:30 AM

Rear Window
– Sun, Sep 16, 8:00 PM
– Mon, Sep 17, 5:30 PM

– Mon, Sep 17, 10:30 PM
– Tue, Sep 18, 3:45 PM

– Tue, Sep 18, 10:45 PM
– Wed, Sep 19, 3:00 PM

Torn Curtain
– Thu, Sep 20, 11:00 PM
– Fri, Sep 21, 5:15 PM

The Trouble with Harry
– Fri, Sep 21, 8:00 PM
– Sat, Sep 22, 3:00 PM

– Tue, Sep 18, 8:00 PM
– Wed, Sep 19, 5:15 PM
– Sat, Sep 22, 5:15 PM
– Sun, Sep 23, 1:00 AM

weekend bits and pieces

Jul 29, 2007 / Filed in Hitchcock, Life, TV / 3 Comments

This was the first weekend we’ve had to relax in awhile. We’ve had something going on every weekend this month, and while that’s fun, sometimes you just need some alone time, you know?

We did some cleaning in the garage. Rodney is planning a garage sale for next weekend. It’s probably a good idea. I tend to keep a lot of “junk”, and I’m pretty emotionally attached to all of it. Perfect example: Rodney wants to sell a set of lamps we bought for our first bedroom together. We haven’t used them for years, yet I want to hold on to them, even though I know we’ll never use them again.

Oh, and I also spent a substantial amount of time on the couch. I love being lazy on the weekend. I watched Disc 1 of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Damn, it was good. It just floors me how amazingly talented Hitchcock was. I know that his style is no longer commercially popular, but I wish it would make a comeback somehow. There is nothing on TV or in theatres that’s even remotely good by comparison.

And on a less sophisticated note, I’ve fallen in love with Family Guy. I was aware of the TV show, but I had never watched it until tonight. I’m hooked. It delivers punchline after punchline of crude, politically incorrect humor. I know… how did I jump from Hitchcock to cartoons? But that’s what I watched this weekend.

Then, of course, there’s Big Brother. I went through a brief phase of liking Dick, but now he’s just too much. He’s overbearing and pretty childish. No wonder his daughter doesn’t want to be around him.

That was my weekend. How was yours?

I once read a blog entry about how this person refused to watch horror films and graphic TV shows because they desensitize us to the reality of violence. Unfortunately, I don’t remember whose blog I was reading.

I have been a fan of horror films since I was very young… too young to be watching that kind of violence. I don’t know why I liked scary movies, but obviously millions of people do. So when I read this blog entry, I didn’t understand why he would boycott horror films.

Tonight, I sat down to watch Saw 3. I had been wanting to see it for a long time and I’ve seen the first two films in the series.

In the first few minutes, I watched a man beat his foot until it was disconnecting from his body. He then twisted his ankle to break the rest of it off. Still within the first 5 minutes, I saw a men with thick chains going through his hands, feet, shoulders, and mouth. There’s no point in saying what happened next.

I can’t think of a time I’ve ever shut a movie off. But I did this time. After watching 5 minutes of this violence, I asked myself why I was enduring it.

What interest do I have in seeing human beings torn apart? What does it contribute to my life and how does it shape me as a person? It has no value, and no purpose. It’s merely a competition to see how much agony they can squeeze into 2 hours.

I suddenly have no recollection of why I’ve watched any horror film in my life. I truly don’t know what the point was.

I still consider Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho my all-time favorite film. But that’s more of a mystery, and the purpose is suspense. It’s not just a bunch of people dying.

So whoever wrote that initial post, I’m sorry I don’t remember. But I did remember what you said, and I see your point with absolute clarity. Thank you for that.

It’s been a very internal type of weekend. Not only have I spent the entire weekend in my pajamas, inside where it’s nice and warm, but I also feel much more caught up in my internal thoughts.

I’ve always been an introverted type of person, but I feel like I’ve been in some kind of haze these past few days. I don’t know exactly how to describe it either.

Oh well. I spent a lot of time on the couch, that’s for sure. My watchlist consisted of the following:

– The first 5 episodes of “Six Feet Under” Season One. I love it so far.

– “Audition”, which was supposed to be the “grossest movie in history” but failed to live up to its reputation. Yes, the vomit scene made me gag. But decapitations and foot amputations are soooo 2004. 😉

– “Spellbound”, yet another Hitchcock film. I try to watch one per week and I still have a lot more to go before I’ve seen them all.

– “America’s Funniest Home Videos”. The pug was cute, but the little girl who colored her face should have won.

– “Desperate Housewives”. I liked it, but felt there should be more of an aftermath from last week’s episode. I think if I almost died, I would have some profound life changing outlook. Instead, it was back to normal.

– The Adam Sandler movie “Click”. Speaking of profound life changing outlooks, this movie really had an impact on me. I’ve tried twice to post about how it affected me, but can’t find the words. Let’s just say it was much deeper than expected.

– “Slither”, which doesn’t even deserve mentioning. Killer slugs are taking over a small redneck town, where everyone seems to have a gorgeous $500,000 home. Next.

Wow, this list is getting long. Okay, enough. So to summarize, I spent the weekend on the couch feeling a wide range of emotions, some of which were inspired from films.

Dial M for Murder

Last night, I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial “M” for Murder, which I received through Netflix. Several of my readers have highly recommended this movie, and I have to agree that it is an amazing piece of work.

Compared to some of his other movies, it actually isn’t very suspenseful. It’s very intellectual, with plot twists that continue from start to finish. It is also very fast paced compared to his others. Within 20 minutes, the entire plan for the murder had been discussed, and I was intrigued with how it would play out.

The item that impressed me most was the way it was filmed. The camera angles are just amazing. Hitchcock had incredible vision. Anyone can film a movie, with a good plot and strong cast, and probably have okay results. But Hitchock went the extra mile. The angles are dramatic and larger than life. Even the curtains looked sinister. There was also a very unusual scene where the two men were planning the murder. It was filmed from behind the couch, and there was a lamp in the way.

dial m for murderUsually, this would be a bad thing. You don’t want large, distracting objects blocking your view. You don’t want to sit behind people and watch them talk. Most directors focus on the faces, and take us right in the middle of the conversation. But he didn’t. The result: I felt like a voyeur, listening in to a very secret conversation. I was behind the couch, and there was nothing I could do.

As always, Hitchcock tricked me into cheering for the villain. There was one scene where I thought he was going to forget to wipe the fingerprints off the chair and door. In my head, I was saying “Hey, don’t forget to wipe those! Come on, come on…” I watched nervously for a few minutes, and finally Hitchcock gave me what I wanted. The fingerprints were wiped away, making me feel relieved that he was safe.

Thanks to everyone who recommended this movie. I loved it! If you want to capture the art of Hitchcock, this is a movie that does it.

Lately I’ve been exploring the genius film making of Alfred Hitchcock. It’s no secret that Psycho is my all-time favorite movie. Rear Window is a close second. But up until recently, I haven’t truly taken the time to understand his movies.

I think most people get the pop-culture aspect of it. Everyone knows the shower scene, and who could forget the birds chasing the school children? But I’ve come to understand that Psycho and The Birds are very rare examples of his work. He does not create horror films, and graphic violence is something he only used in these two films I’ve mentioned.

Actually, as crazy as it may sound, I sometimes think Hitchcock was a romantic. All of his movies center around a relationship, a love affair. These are not monsters. They are ordinary people, trapped in uncommon circumstances. They are fighting to survive, and often times we are tricked into sympathizing with the killer.

Let’s take Rope, where the two lead characters are almost caught many times. We are nervous for them, we are scared. We don’t want them to get caught with the body. Isn’t that a bit twisted?

The gay aspects of his films are also very intriguing, especially for the time period. It makes me very curious about Hitchcock’s inner motives. Rebecca clearly tells the story of a lesbian who is obsessed with a dead woman. She is so in love, and can’t part with the memories. By the end of the film, her obsession drives her to suicide. In Rope, we have two gay men (played by gay actors, no less) who are near orgasm at the opening of the film because the act of murder was so exciting to them. And in Strangers of a Train, a man developes an infatuation with a well known male tennis player.

Was Hitchcock supportive of gay people? It seems the gay people were always the criminals, but yet he seemed very sympathetic of them. Were they just victims of circumstance, as I mentioned earlier?

The questions go on. I just wanted to write this post in case anyone else is thinking of watching some old Hitchcock films. I highly recommend it. His career was incredible, and today’s movies can’t even touch the brilliant work he created.

This morning, Apple updated it’s iTunes Music Store to include vintage TV shows, including “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “Dragnet”, as well as current episodes from “The Office” and “Monk”. That is so hot. I love the retro NBC logos.

But to be honest, I often think this is a waste. For example, you can buy the entire season of a TV show in iTunes, where you will either play it on your iPod or on your computer. For the same price, you can buy the series on DVD and play it anywhere with much higher quality.

But the Alfred Hitchock series is a perfect example. I love him, but I would never sit down to watch his TV show at home. I’m just too busy. By contrast, if I bought it on iTunes and loaded it into an iPod, there is a huge chance I would watch it on roadtrips.

In addition, if I only wanted one or two episodes of a show, it would only be $1.99 each, so it would be cheaper than buying the whole series.

There are always pros and cons to anything. In the long run, I am very happy that Apple is continuing to build a new revolution for the future of technology, and continuing to challenge its competition.

I’m getting my first iPod in less than 3 weeks and I can’t wait to load it up with music, photos, and videos 🙂

If you’ve never seen it, here’s your chance. “Rear Window” will be on TCM (Turner Classic Movies) on Sunday, October 30th at 8:30 PM eastern. It is one of my all-time favorite mysteries. It is the original voyeur classic… man is spying on his neighbors, realizes he’s watching a murderer, and chaos ensues.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – We are all voyeurs. That’s why I read blogs daily, because I love discovering people’s secrets and private lives.

Here is TCM’s synopsis of “Rear Window”:

Rear Window (1954)
A photographer with a broken leg uncovers a murder while spying on the neighbors in a nearby apartment building. James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Raymond Burr. Director: Alfred Hitchcock.

About Nathan

I'm a happily married gay man, writing about my life as a new father and sharing our adventures with a side of snark.
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