By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated January 14, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

A new 35 mm restoration of Rear Window is as good a reason as any to rerelease Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 masterpiece of voyeurism. Images of L.B. ”Jeff” Jefferies (James Stewart), the wheelchair-bound news photographer who escapes the boredom of a broken leg and the demands for intimacy by a marriage-minded girlfriend (Grace Kelly) by spying on his neighbors, may already feel warmly familiar. But visual details — the newly vibrant bloodred intensity of the sunset, the striking Nile green of Miss Lonelyheart’s dress, the bandbox freshness of Kelly’s costumes by Edith Head — give the movie a sharpness that underscores the whole subtext of moviegoers as voyeurs, too.

”We’ve become a race of Peeping Toms,” says the shut-in’s extremely practical nurse, Stella (Thelma Ritter, her every line a chili pepper of stinging wisdom), as she tries to straighten out Jeff’s priorities as crisply as she slaps on liniment during a rubdown: Be yourself, dig the one who digs you, quit sitting in the dark conjecturing about other people’s private lives and overanalyzing your own.

As you sit in the dark watching a debrided ”Rear Window” (restored by Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz, who also revivified ”Vertigo” and ”Lawrence of Arabia”), these stark suggestions and implications come through with flying colors.

Rear Window (Movie - 1954)

  • Movie
  • PG
  • 112 minutes
  • Alfred Hitchcock