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Culture Vulture Schmulture – R

In a feature shamelessly “inspired” by The Times‘s Culture Vulture, British Expat brings you the above titled (subtitled “Things you should own, if they’re the sort of thing you might like…”)

This ‘week’ we’re on to ‘R’, and a mighty fine selection is at hand. Falling by the wayside include (the incredibly overrated, but still far from poor) Rumours – Fleetwood Mac’s finest, though what does that say? Also passed by are the highly enjoyable, informative and interesting Rat Pack Confidential, a literary account of the exploits of Sinatra, Davis Jr and pals; Reservoir Dogs, with its much-maligned excessive violence (may not be your cup of tea, but don’t be put off too much, it’s a very fine Kurosawa rip-off); Robert Lowell’s Poems – A Selection, which is Ronseal (does exactly what it says on the tin.); the fantastic Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars needs no introduction – BUY IT.

It takes some doing to beat the classic Raging Bull into second place in any kind of poll, survey, chart, whatever.

Rear Window can do it, though.

Hitchcock’s finest (and most misanthropic) film, Rear Window was made in 1954 and starring Grace Kelly and Raymond Burr (eventually to play a wheelchair-bound Perry Mason) alongside God (James Stewart to the rest of you). If you haven’t seen it, go and never darken my website again, you are indeed not worthy. If you have seen it, sorry but I’m going to talk about it for another couple of hundred words. It’s as much about what you don’t see as what you do, it’s a film about spying – fascinating, I assure you. We spy on L. B. Jeffries (Jeff to his friends, still God to me) who in turn spies on a neighbour he suspects of, let’s say, ‘being naughty’. The building up of events in Jeff’s house mirrors the heatwave that grips the city. Jeff incidentally is a photographer, a professional voyeur, with excellent qualifications for spying on members of the public. The main point of interest is the psychology and sociology of the film, the sense that this sort of thing can and does happen right under your nose.

The camera always gives Jeff’s view out of his rear window, all the action taking place in the apartment block opposite, filmed on what was the largest set ever constructed at the time. The suspense is tangible, proving that Hitchcock really is The Master. Rear Window is always a critics’ favourite, the AFI acknowledging it as one of the best American films ever made (though it lost out in award ceremonies, primarily to Elia Kazan’s On The Waterfront), and was voted 21st best film ever by Time Out readers. It undoubtedly makes my own personal top 10 (though you may not see this as any kind of recommendation). You’ll get it for a fiver in most reputable shops, and if you don’t think it’s worth it, I’ll resign. I promise.

I can’t fully explain what makes this film so awesomely impressive. It just is.

Next ‘week’, The True Clash of The Titans. I’m on to ‘S’, wish me luck…

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