Roger Ebert on Rear Window:
What’s interesting is the way Hitchcock spreads the guilt around. Although the man across the way (Raymond Burr) seems to be the “worst” person in this movie, we don’t get to know him well and we never identify with him. Instead, we identify with James Stewart. And because he is doing something he’s not supposed to do, because he is essentially amoral and takes liberties with other people’s privacy, somehow he’s guilty, too.
The movie is simply made. There are three basic situations: (1) Stewart watching; (2) what Stewart sees; (3) daily life in Stewart’s apartment, punctuated by the visits of his fianc√©e, his masseuse and his friend the cop. The film’s structure is so simple that Hitchcock was even able to make one of his little jokes; the exact same shot of Stewart is used at two different places in the movie, when Stewart is looking at two very different things. It’s a pragmatic example of the movie’s lesson, which is that you may think you’re a detached observer, but what you see may have a way of attaching itself to you.
Ebert turns 66 today. Happy Birthday, Roger, and here’s to many many more years exploring your attachment to movies and sharing the lessons you’ve learned with the rest of us.