Review by C.J. Bunce
One of the first classic movies restored using a state of the art Technicolor dye-transfer process, the restoration of Alfred Hitchcock’s most stylish and suspenseful film, Rear Window, provided 1990s audiences a presentation of the film better than it was originally seen upon its initial release in 1954. That version was back on the big screen this week, thanks to Turner Classic Movies and the Fathom Events series. Inspired by a Cornell Woolrich short story about voyeurism and murder, Hitch’s classic piece of cinema still holds up, keeping a 2015 audience completely engaged with his unique use of humor juxtaposed with some pretty grisly circumstances.
Anchored by top performances from Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, and just as superb supporting performances by Thelma Ritter and Wendell Corey, Rear Window is as atmospheric as any film of its decade. Hitchcock filmed primarily in the muted brown tones of a sweltering urban summer, but he used targeted deep reds to highlight key imagery: the mercury of a wall thermometer, a bright and significant bed of flowers, a perfect lobster dinner, crisp uneaten bacon, and a certain fashionable socialite’s lipstick in her opening scene. And yet, unlike Hitchcock’s The Birds or Psycho, the red of blood–and any gore at all–is kept off-stage. He didn’t need it. The suspense builds for two hours and even after 60 years, the payoff–and especially what we can’t see–is still able to transfix audiences with nail-biting action.
Highly memorable is the music–a soaring clarinet rises up above Franz Waxman’s jazz score from the film’s first scene, reflecting the liveliness of the block, the active and important parts of all the lives visible from the rear window of Stewart’s L.B. “Jeff” Jeffries, a war photographer laid up with a broken leg. Waxman’s stylish music propels the story forward despite Jeff’s claustrophobic, trapped circumstance. Love themes, like Bing Crosby’s “To See You is to Love You” and “Many Dreams Ago” reflect the seemingly hopeless plight of Miss Lonelyhearts–a single woman longing to find love who is attacked and then plans to commit suicide. Waxman’s own song “Lisa” takes on its own life, composed over the course of the film by a piano player across the courtyard, to get noticed by Miss Lonelyhearts, and be picked up as the love theme for Jeff and Grace Kelly’s character, Jeff’s girlfriend Lisa Fremont. And to relieve the tension at story’s end, a rousing accordion plays “That’s Amore” to the curtain.
It’s Alfred Hitchcock’s most suspenseful film, his most engaging and atmospheric, and it features top lead actors with stars Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly. It’s his 1954 blockbuster Rear Window, and if you haven’t seen it on the big screen then you haven’t seen it at all.
Tomorrow, March 22, 2015, and Wednesday, March 25, 2015, as part of the Fathom Event series, theaters across the country will screen the restored cut of the film. Presented by Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, the film will be introduced by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz.
It’s a steamy, sultry summer, and L.B. Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart) is a war photographer bedridden from an injury to his leg. He’s being taken care of by nurse Stella, played by Thelma Ritter, and is constantly being prodded for his affections by the beautiful fashion model Lisa Fremont, played by Grace Kelly. Jeffries’ apartment overlooks a courtyard and the back sides of other apartments, and as Jeffries gets more and more bored he begins following the goings-on out his rear window. Newlyweds, a musician, an unhappy couple, an older couple, a dancer, a lonely woman.
Is the heat getting to Jeffries, or could one of these tenants have committed a murder across the way?
We’ve already shown some photos of a great set of little green army men as well as the best Arrow cosplay from Planet Comicon 2015, but we have a few more images to share. Not surprisingly, with a new Star Wars film due out by year end, Star Wars cosplay could be seen everywhere this past weekend. One couple, shown above, expertly recreated the Clone Wars villain Asajj Ventris and Jedi Shaak Ti.
It’s hard to beat all the great Imperial armored soldiers that appear at Cons these days. This speeder bike trooper was no exception. If you’re not willing to create your own outfit, ANOVOS and other companies now make it possible for anyone to wear screen-accurate Star Wars costumes.
Several homemade remote-controlled astromech droids could be found skimming across the convention floor. Who wouldn’t want one of these at home? I remember when I first saw an R2 unit at a Con more than a decade ago and it was the highlight of the show. Now we take these awesome robots for granted.
Boba Fetts were everywhere, too, but we really liked this steampunk riveted helmet take on the mysterious bounty hunter.
In addition to great creators from outside the Midwest, like Black Widow artist Phil Noto (as we mentioned here at borg.com yesterday), the great thing about returning to a Con year after year is running into all our friends who write, sketch, or paint incredible works for a living. Planet Comicon 2015 was no different.
Take for instance Des Moines artist Ant Lucia (pictured above). Three years ago Ant was just beginning to put together great genre characters like DC superheroes and Star Wars characters in a unique retro style of poster art. Flash forward to 2014 and an entire month of cover art at DC Comics was devoted to his creations, and statues based on his DC Bombshell designs are selling off the shelves in every town across the country. Ant’s beautiful designs are second to none, and there’s not a more deserving guy to achieve such success from his ideas.
Other creators at Planet Comicon this weekend with national success included Jason Aaron, who had his own rock star sized line of fans getting his new Star Wars series autographed, as well as artist Freddie Williams II, drawing sketches for fans and signing copies of his Legendary Starlord series, among other works.
Pictured above are artists Damont Jordan and Bryan Fyffe. Damont had a new “spirit fox” print available that blew us away, and he churned out sketches for fans all weekend long. And we noticed other artists at the Con were coming to Bryan’s booth to buy his framed art for their own homes. Bryan has the best eye for design of anyone we know, and creates a variety of inspired multi-media works. His most recent commercial illustration was for some major franchise properties, as well as the cover of John Renehan’s new novel The Valley. Check out some of his work at his website here.
The three-day Planet Comicon comic book and pop culture convention wrapped yesterday in Kansas City. The highlight of the day for thousands of attendees was the one-day visit to the show by Stephen Amell, star of the CW Network’s Arrow TV series. If you’ve been reading borg.com for very long, you’ll know I’ve been tracking the show as the world’s biggest Green Arrow fan, including spending the night with 7,000 other fans in San Diego for the show premiere with Amell and his co-stars back in 2012.
After hanging with his cousin (and CW star of The Flash) Robbie Amell last night at the Elite Comics after party at the Alamo Drafthouse, we got to meet Stephen today. As you’d expect, fans were happy to meet him, and he kept a cheery disposition throughout a whirlwind day of signing autographs and being featured on a panel at the convention.
Because he was only at the show for one day, that meant plenty of lines to get to see him–lines that barely even looked like lines.
But as typical with attendees at comic book conventions, everyone handled it all with great attitudes.
Plenty of fun was in store for everyone attending Planet Comicon 2015 this weekend. With the Big 12 Championship basketball tourney between the Iowa State Cyclones and the Kansas Jayhawks, downtown Kansas City was booming Saturday. At the third annual Planet Comicon at the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall, actors, writers, artists, cosplayers, vendors, and tens of thousands of fans of everything from comic books to toys and from Doctor Who to Walking Dead continued the convention tradition of sharing their common interests in a positive and exciting environment.
Elizabeth C. Bunce and your humble editor from borg.com were back again meeting up with creators and friends from past years (this year as Daniel Craig’s Jake Lonergan from Cowboys and Aliens and Kate Beckinsale’s Anna Valerius from Van Helsing). Check out the great little green toy army men cosplayers at the show above.
Kent McCord, known best for his role on the classic TV series Adam-12, shared some great stories about working with Martin Milner, Jack Webb, Harry Morgan, and Stephen J. Cannell. What better than to spend the day chatting with someone who has starred in shows like Dragnet and Unsub?
We also had a great time with Mitch Pileggi, co-star of one of the all-time best genre TV series, The X-Files. He talked about the possible renewal of his role of Director Skinner on a rebooted X-Files series and working with Judith Light on TNT’s reboot of Dallas as Harris Ryland.
The biggest pop culture and comic book convention ever in the region begins today. It’s the third annual Planet Comicon to be held in its new venue–the Kansas City Convention Center at Bartle Hall. This year is even bigger than last year’s show, with more vendor space and more creators in Artists Alley. Set-up began yesterday morning and continued until late last night.
We discussed some of the media guests previously here at borg.com. You can get a current line-up at the Con’s website here.
Don’t know where to begin? Start here, with this short list creators and attractions to check out:
- Amanda Lynn Chainmaille Creations, Booth 812
- Elite Comics, Booth 2214 at the Pillar
- Kansas City Costume Company, Booth 928
- Wildman Drinking Horns, Booth 1017
- Writer Jason Aaron, Booth 153
- Artist Rob Davis, Booth 1036
- Author Kevin Dilmore, Booth 323
- Artist Bryan Fyffe, Booth 2740
- Artist Greg Horn, Booth 2730
- Writer/Artist Phil Hester, Booth 536
- Artist Damont Jordan, Booth 2739
- Artist Ant Lucia, Booth 2745
- Writer Jai Nitz, Booth 540
- Artist Phil Noto, on the wall past Booth 2745
- Writer/Artist Ande Parks, Booth 538
- Writer Seth Peck, Booth 139
- Artists Nathen and Keven Reinke, Booth 1436
- Artist Greg Smallwood, Booth 542
- Author Dayton Ward, Booth 323
- Artist Freddie Williams II, Booth 2776
- Artist Darryl Woods, Cosplay Showcase
Producer and writer Harve Bennett passed away February 25 in Oregon, two days before Leonard Nimoy. Fans of the Star Trek films credited Bennett with resurrecting not only the franchise with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but with the idea of resurrecting Ricardo Montalban as the show’s charismatic villain. Bennett served as an active force behind four Star Trek films, and we actually get to see Bennett in front of the camera as an admiral briefly in a conversation with Captain Kirk in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.
Bennett was also responsible for talking Leonard Nimoy into staying with the franchise by agreeing to kill off Spock in Star Trek II. Bennett was executive producer and co-developed the story for that film, and then went on to write the script for and produce Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Along with Nimoy, Bennett came up with the “save the whales” theme of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, serving as producer on the film as well.
Bennett’s voice was used for a flight recorder in Star Trek III, but his most far-reaching contribution was not that voice work, but his seven memorable words at the beginning of each weekly episode of The Six Million Dollar Man before Richard Anderson utters his “we have the technology” lines:
Steve Austin, astronaut, a man barely alive.
The Six Million Dollar Man was one of the most popular shows of the 1970s, watched by millions of viewers each week for its five season run.
The next James Bond film, SPECTRE, directed by Sam Mendes, is well into production, as shown in two short features released by the studio. The new main cast will return, Daniel Craig of course as Bond, Ralph Fiennes in his first full stint as M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, and Ben Whishaw as Q.
In one new video we see the first look at villain Mr. Hinx–Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista filming on snow-covered mountains along with the newest Bond girl Madeleine Swann, played by French actress Léa Seydoux.
In the biggest year of franchise blockbusters probably ever, with a new Avengers, a new Mad Max, a new Jurassic Park, a new Ted, a new Fantastic Four, a new National Lampoon’s Vacation, a new Guillermo del Toro movie, a new Star Wars, a new Mission Impossible, and a new Quentin Tarentino movie all on their way, a new Bond will help keep our theater calendars full all year long.
After the break, see two new behind the scenes looks at the making of the latest Bond:
Strange how you can be completely in sync each year with the supporting acting categories and the “other” categories at the annual Academy Awards ceremony, and walk away from the Oscars scratching your head over the rest of the wins. Highlights of the night were those TV-actors-turned-movie-actors-turned-Oscar-winners J.K. Simmons (Skoda! Chief Pope!) and Patricia Arquette (Alison Dubois!) getting their wins, long-time working actors who have paid their dues and finally got recognized for it. And I admit I love not being in sync with the Academy each year, and never as much so to their selection of Birdman as winner for this year’s Best Picture, a positively abysmal, unwatchable flick that rested on the acting of Michael Keaton, who the Academy snubbed. Go figure. But Hollywood likes to pat itself on the back for its own idiosyncracies so it’s no surprise they did it again (full disclosure: I hated A Chorus Line, too). You can see how I really feel in my earlier review at borg.com here.
It was another ceremony of young presenters you’ve never heard of all showing their deer-in-the-headlights inexperience with public speaking, making you wonder just how many takes directors had to slog through this year to get anything out of them worth putting onscreen. (More polished presenters next year like Zoe Saldana, Dwayne Johnson, and Eddie Murphy, please). When was the last good year of Oscars anyway? 2013. Contrast this year’s films with the films of 2012 and the corresponding winners at the 2013 Oscars ceremony (Argo, Brave, Skyfall, Django Unchained, Les Miserables all took home at least one statue) and this year seemed pretty shabby by comparison.
But all is not lost. Take a look at the winner for Best Animated Short Film, Feast. It’s from Disney, which can be good or bad, but this time their short film harkened back to some of the best of the classic cartoons produced by the studio. It’s a love triangle about a little dog, his love of food, and his owner. It’s full of solid artistry, great animation, humor, action, and best of all–heart. And you can (and should) watch it now via Amazon Prime or the link below, after the break, via YouTube (a deal at only $1.99).