If you live in apartments for long enough, at some point you’re bound to catch a glimpse into other people’s lives. Most of us look away, hoping that the same courtesy will be afforded to us by anyone inadvertently seeing more than they should.
But sometimes curiosity gets the better of us and an innocent, accidental glance turns into a look that lingers longer that it ought.
But then there’s out and out voyeurism, when someone spends way too much time spying on their neighbours.
It’s the latter that forms the theme of Rear Window, a movie that television historian Andrew Mercado and I discuss in the second part of our podcast about fictional apartment blocks in TV and film.
Starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly, and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window turned 65 this month, its world premiere having been staged on August 4, 1954. Having watched it (again) last weekend, I can say it still stands the test of time.
Stewart plays a news photographer temporarily confined to a wheelchair who amuses himself by watching the goings on in apartments across the alleyway, then becomes convinced he has witnessed a murder.
The view, supposedly the back alley of a Greenwich Village, New York block, was actually a specially built set on Paramount studio’s movie lot in Hollywood. But if nothing else, the discussion brought home to me how your memory can play tricks on you.
Firstly, I thought I’d never seen it before, but it all came back to me when I watched it again (on Foxtel, for $3.95). Then, as I say on the podcast, I envisaged Stewart looking through a telescope. In fact, it’s a camera with a telephoto lens.
And finally, largely thanks to the publicity picture above, I was sure it was in in black and white but in was actually in glorious Technicolour (and well worth a look whether you’ve seen it before, or not).
Andrew and I also talk about The Apartment (Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine) which seems very odd in these days of “me too”, since it centres around an office worker who feels obliged to lend his apartment to his boss so he (the boss) can have an affair with his secretary. See, back in the day, that’s what people thought apartments were for.
Green Card, the movie directed by Peter Weir gets a mention which leads to a discussion about how some of the characters in TV sitcoms could afford to live in these huge apartments in New York.
It’s a pretty wide-ranging chat and at least it lets us see another side to apartment living that isn’t under the cloud of defects and cladding.
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You can also hear Andrew talking about television on his Mediaweek podcast HERE.