Friday, February 4, 2011


This is a look at the Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window and how it was brought to the screen. From Pre-Production, to the famous set, to the premiere, Hitchcock's entertaining classic has a very interesting story behind it. (You may want to check out the film before you read this.

The Making of Rear Window

-Jimmy Stewart and Alfred Hitchcock became the sole owners of the film and received an initial payment for their services for $200,000
-Stewart became one of the first actors to defer his salary for a percentage of this films profit, which is now common today. 

-Took over a month to build
-At the time the set was the largest indoor set built at Paramount Studios
-The set was 25% of the entire budget, compared to 12% for the cast. (The budget was roughly set at 1 Million dollars)
-1,000 giant arc lights were needed to light the set from overhead while more than 2000 other miscellaneous lamps were necessary for supplemental lighting. The bill for lighting came close to 100,000 (95,584)
.-All of the sound in the film is diegetic, meaning that all the music, speech and other sounds all come from within the world of the film.

-Production opened on November 27
-Camera shots were extremely difficult given the distance from Jimmy Stewart’s window to across the way. These point of view shots were first shot with a ten inch lens, but it was unclear to see certain objects (Jeff using his long camera lens to focus on Thorwald retrieving his wife’s wedding wing. So they got rid of the lens and Hitchcock used a six inch model and compensated for the loss of magnification by placing a camera on a boom outside Jeff’s apartment. (Adjustable metal arm, attached to a firm stand, on which lighting can be mounted. Some booms are also made to support cameras.) 
-Hitchcock controlled the action across the courtyard by means of a short-wave radio installed in Jeff’s apartment. The actors across the way wore flesh-colored earphones with frequencies tuned in to the shortwave signal. The actors had to nail every shot perfectly because the cameras long lenses had such a shallow depth of field; focus would be lost if an actors movement varied a few inches either way. During the shoot Georgine Darcy, who played "Miss Torso", "lived" in her apartment all day, relaxing between takes as if really at home.
-Lighting was an issue. They needed to borrow so many lights (from Columbia and MGM) that at one point the heat became so intense it set off the entire sprinkler system. Fortunately, a drainage system had been installed to prevent flooding during the night scenes in which it rains.
-Hitchcock even under these incidents managed to keep his cool, and focused on what needed to be done.

So they started with the end and ended with the beginning. They wanted to make sure that all pieces were in place for Stewart to improvise the scene just right.
The filming moved along smoothly covering four to seven pages of script a day.

Principal Photography ended on January 13th although crew continued photographic inserts, trailers, and retakes. The final cut came on March 22nd where at the time the musical score could be placed in.

The release of the film premiered at New York’s Rivoli Theater on August 4th and the Hollywood premiere came a week later. Reviews were more than solid and The Box office was very solid as it made 5.3 million in rentals which was the fifth best of the year. As being a critical darling and a box office success, it garnered four Oscar nominations (writing, directing for Hitchcock, sound recording and cinematography though was shut out from winning any)

Thanks to Casey LaMarca

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