'Rear Window' | Spring 2019
March 31, 2019
The Katharina Otto-Bernstein Screening Room
Lenfest Center for the Arts
615 W. 129 St.
New York, NY 10027
March 31st, 2019 8:45pm -
1954 / 115 min / color
Dir. Alfred Hitchcock / Scr. John Michael Hayes
Cast: Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter
Adapted from the short story “It Had to Be Murder,” Dime Detective Magazine, February 1942
DCP courtesy of Universal Pictures
Introduced by Pamela Robertson Wojcik, Notre Dame
This screening was part of The Second Annual Dr. Saul and Dorothy Kit Film Noir Festival
Into the Night: Cornell Woolrich and Film Noir
At once the definitive indictment of cinema as voyeurism and Alfred Hitchcock’s most irresistible entertainment, Rear Window may forever remain the finest Cornell Woolrich adaptation.
Woolrich submitted his story in 1941 under the title “Murder from a Fixed Point of View.” That title, which changed prior to publication, presaged Hitchcock’s much-celebrated visual approach for this material. Woolrich earned just $225 from Dime Detective Magazine for the story, and he would later make a meager $5,000 for the film rights for this and five other stories sold in a bundle. The most prominent triumph among Woolrich adaptations thus earned the author but a pittance by Hollywood standards.
For his adaptation, Hitchcock kept the story’s basic structure but changed nearly all the particulars. He added a love story; he crafted an array of neighboring characters whose lives mirror that of his protagonist; and he gave the story a much lighter tone. On the page, L. B. Jefferies is a cynical, classically noir anti-hero – he views his neighbors with a condescending disgust. Hitchcock softens his lead, which allows us to identify with his voyeurism. This Jefferies seeks answers to his everyday woes in the violent images he sees in the proscenium of his window. In the end, like Jefferies, we’d have been disappointed if there wasn’t a murder.
About the Dr. Saul and Dorothy Kit Film Noir Festival
Short story maestro, former Columbia student, muse of suspense filmmakers: Cornell Woolrich (1903–1968) lived all of these lives. The Second Annual Dr. Saul and Dorothy Kit Film Noir Festival presents 12 adaptations of Woolrich’s fiction: from the canonized masterworks of Alfred Hitchcock and François Truffaut to lesser known “B” films and Monogram potboilers. Many films will be screened in 35mm.
This festival is the second in a ten-year series devoted to the legacy of film noir. It was funded by a generous gift from alumnus Gordon Kit (Columbia College ’76), in honor of his parents.
For more information, contact email@example.com