100 Movies in 100 Days / Movies

100 Years of Movies in 100 Days – Day 45 – Rear Window/Dial M For Murder (1954)

Grace Kelly and James Stewart try to catch a killer in, "Rear Window"

Grace Kelly and James Stewart try to catch a killer in, "Rear Window"

I’m exhausted. And this time it has nothing to do with this movie marathon. This time, it has to do with waking up at 5a.m. to beat the crowd down to Harbor UCLA hospital to check my dad in. And seeing as how the wait times there are often ridiculous (see yesterday’s post for more about this) I took advantage of the down time to screen a Grace Kelly double feature on my laptop.

Today’s movies are Rear Window and Dial M For Murder. I consider 1954 the year of Grace Kelly, because even though Marilyn Monroe was out flirting with the world and Audrey Hepburn was acting her petite butt off, no one accomplished more in that year than Kelly. Think about this: She won a Best Actress Oscar for Country Girl, shot To Catch a Thief with lifelong friend Cary Grant in Monaco where she would meet her husband, Prince Rainier (and his impressive tiger collection), starred alongside Stewart Granger in the out-of-print and hard as hell to find Green Fire, had a supporting role in The Bridges at Toko-Ri while sneaking around with William Holden (allegedly) and starred in two Hitchcock pictures, the critically-praised and often imitated Rear Window (Shia LaBeouf’s Disturbia comes to mind) and the supremely well-acted Dial M. If that’s not a busy, but good year, I don’t know what is. One of my favorite quotes from one of the many Hitchcock biographies out there was when Hitch commented on Grace’s sexual conquests saying, “Gracie’s a tigress. She f**ked the screenwriter just for the hell of it.” (Now you know why I got into scriptwriting. Haha)

Grace seduces James "Lucky Guy" Stewart in, "Rear Window"

Grace seduces James "Lucky Guy" Stewart in, "Rear Window"

I’ve watched both of these movies multiple times, so let me begin with Window. While Jimmy Stewart plays the role of L.B. Jeffries with his usual everyman excellence and Thelma Ritter adds a series of well-timed one-line zingers, it’s Kelly’s Lisa Carol Fremont with that uptown, sophisticated elegance that propels the story forward. Without Kelly’s character, the movie would just be Stewart sitting in his wheelchair trading jabs with Ritter, which would be entertaining but would grow stale rather quickly. When Kelly’s character switches trains of thought midway through and jumps from the role of skeptic to Stewart’s ally, that’s when the movie really gets moving.

Grace’s character plays a pivotal role in Dial M as well. While it’s a lesser role (meaning we don’t see her on screen for a good while) it’s still the fulcrum of Ray Milland‘s fiendishly well-played ex-tennis pro Tony Wendice’s downfall. (Hilarious IMDB profile pic when you click that link) While Grace is good in Dial M, for me, it’s the chess match between Milland’s Wendice and John Williams‘ Inspector Hubbard that’s really the entertaining part of the story.

Anthony Dawson as Captain Lesgate/Swann gets ready to strangle a sleepy-faced Grace Kelly in, "Dial M For Murder"

Anthony Dawson as Captain Lesgate/Swann gets ready to strangle a sleepy-faced Grace Kelly in, "Dial M For Murder"

To close, I found it rather interesting and somewhat off-putting that I could watch two full-length features and still be sitting in the triage section waiting for the personnel to figure things out. Good thing I brought my MP3 stocked full of new AKB48 and SMAP downloads. Tomorrow, Kiss Me Deadly.

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