Can’t say I’ve really gotten into much Hitchcock in my lifetime (that’s more my mum’s forte), however I loved Rear Window from the moment I inserted into the DVD player.
However, after a second watching this Christmas, I realised the power of Grace Kelly’s character, Lisa Fremont, as the girlfriend of central protagonist L.B. Jeffries (played by James Stewart).
Sure, she comes across as a vapid socialite on first glance, but when she opens her mouth, it is revealed that she has a job (astonishing for that period in time!), albeit as a gossip columnist, and is very self-sufficient.
Jeffries goes on about how she is somewhat pampered (being a socialite) and could never hack it on one of his photography missions.( Evidently it is he who could not hack it on his own photography assignment, managing to get his leg broken whilst documenting a car race.)
When Lisa volunteers to snoop in Jeffries’ neighbours’ apartment whilst he is out, on one hand she is proving herself to him; proving that she can get her hands dirty and is up for some adventure. But, as Lizz Yeh points out in her comment in response to Gender Goggles’ “Hitchcock & Feminist Theory in Suspicion & Rear Window”, “we have to remember that a lot of the plot is driven by Lisa and L.B. It is only after Lisa concurs with L.B. that L.B. decides to take any sort of action.” In addition, she’s the one who points out that a woman doesn’t leave her favourite handbag and wedding ring when she goes on a trip, and doesn’t leave her jewellery jumbled up in a bag. On Yeh’s comments, it does seem that Jeffries often strives for Lisa’s approval. Whilst I wouldn’t say he’s a “weak” male character by any means, Lisa is certainly his “better half”.
On that, Lisa proves that women can be multifaceted. She can read fashion magazines and attend balls in gorgeous couture gowns, but she can also investigate a murder and accompany her man on adventurous trips. Her attitude also flies in the face of feminism’s detractors: she can please her man by reading the kinds of books he thinks she should (but swapping back to her glossy du jour when he falls asleep!) and helping him in his time of need, but she also does what she thinks and feels is right. Ultimately, Jeffries and Lisa are equals in a Hitchcockian world.