Rear Window

rearwindowThe Simpsons has lifted many scenes from Hitchcock movies but REAR WINDOW might be the only plot they lifted whole-cloth from The Master. 1994’s BART OF DARKNESS from Season 6 puts Bart in Jimmy Stewart’s role, believing Ned has murdered his wife and having to cajole Lisa into a dangerous investigation. (For more on this classic episode, read the AV Club’s review here.)

Rear Window is arguably one of the best thrillers of all time, and like many of Hitchcock’s movies it almost defines itself in the way it subverts convention. The lead actor is confined to a small room for the entire movie, a small stage he shares with the next two most prominent cast-members. Nearly all of the action takes place at a distance, and the key incident doesn’t even occur on screen. Beyond the top five characters we never get closer than 25 yards to any of them.

Despite this unconventional set Rear Window provides a lot to watch. James Stewart’s LB Jeffries spends his time confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg by peeping through a telephoto camera lens into a shared courtyard full of neighbors. Its the only escape for a stuck shutterbug with a thirst for adventure. A need so strong even the effervescent Lisa Fremont (played with enwrapping charm by Grace Kelly) can’t distract him. Only snatched glimpses of Raymond Burr’s nefarious activities hold his attention, and soon Jeff has convinced Lisa, his nurse Stella, and barely just in time, his old war buddy Policeman Tom Doyle.

Transposing citizen’s of Springfield into the world of Rear Window is made a bit easier by the small number of roles and the clearly defined character traits of each. However, it also presents some narrow thematic alleyways to navigate. Sometimes we had to use some workarounds to find pitch-perfect fits for the leads in this fantasy film league.

So who did we put where and why? Keep reading to find out.

Skinnyboy

Principal Skinner as Jeff Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart). There were a few possibilities for this one, but we decided that Skinner, with his uptight demeanor and time roughing it in Vietnam was the best fit. What really sold us was the clever way he got out from under that stack of newspapers in Bart the Murderer: very similar to how Jeffries delays his attacker at the climax of the film.

“What’s a donut?” Marge from “Time and Punishment” (Treehouse of Horror V) as Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly). We had some trouble casting this one because Springfield doesn’t really have a glamorous and beautiful leading lady. As much as everyone finds Marge Simpson an unconventional sex symbol, she simply doesn’t radiate the same classy light as Grace Kelly. However, we feel that using this version of Marge is a pretty clever workaround for that problem.

Kirk Van Houten as Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr). Was there ever a more henpecked man than Kirk Van Houten?

Luann Van Houten as Emma Thorwald (Irene Winston). This one was easy. These two are toxic for each other and made the perfect fit for the bickering couple at the center of the mystery.

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Nurse Lunchlady Doris as Stella (Thelma Ritter). Nurse Lunchlady Doris was an obvious parallel for brassy, take-no-shit nurse Stella. Plus, she gets two paychecks this way: nurse AND detective.

Superintendent Chalmers as Lt. Doyle (Wendell Corey). Lt. Doyle is an old war buddy of LB Jeffries who begrudgingly humors his friend. Seymour Skinner doesn’t have many friends. The closest anyone might come is the bedraggled Superintendent Chalmers, with whom he shares a forced camaraderie. Chalmers is also soft enough to give Skinner the benefit of the doubt once in a while.

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Apu and Manjula as newlywed couple (Rand Harper and Havis Davenport).  I would pretty much bet Apu and Manjula went to their apartment and closed the blinds for a few weeks after their wedding.

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Steve Allen as the Songwriter (Ross Bagdasarian, AKA Dave Seville).  Fun fact: this down-on-his-luck piano player is also “Dave Saville,” creator and original voice of Alvin & the Chipmunks. We also considered Paul Anka for this spot, based on his appearance in TREE HOUSE OF HORROR VI’s episode “Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores,” but in the end Allen had more in common with movie’s character.

Princess Kashmir as Miss Torso (Georgine Darcy). The clear choice. It wasn’t until we made the gif that we realized they were even wearing the same outfit.

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Mrs. Krabappel as Miss Lonelyhearts (Judith Evelyn). A lonely single woman getting desperate for a lover. Again, a happy coincidence that they wore a similar outfit. And it’s nice that both characters found love at some point in their arc.

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Tim and Helen Lovejoy as Man and Woman on Fire Escape (Frank Cady and Sara Berner). The Lovejoys’ dog can’t fit in a basket, but both Sara Berner and Helen Lovejoy were born to shriek and throw fits. However, Helen’s are usually a lot less justified.

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Mona Simpson as Miss Hearing Aid (Jesslyn Fax). Miss Hearing Aid is a sculptress, and I’d bet that Mona got up to some art-making during her years away from her family. Plus they’re both just sweet old ladies.

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One Response to Rear Window

  1. Truly, truly Brilliant! You are excellent film crickets.

    Like

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