Rear Window

Couch Potato Pickings

On Sky Movies Classics tonight at 9pm

How well do you know your neighbours?

Perhaps you never see them at all. On the other hand, maybe you regularly keep an eye on what they’re doing. Some people would say that’s nosey, but I’m all for Neighbourhood Watch.

James Stewart

Take this weekend just gone; there I was looking out of my front window on Sunday afternoon after the weather turned and became seriously stormy. For a while I’d been staring at a couple of tits. Yes, birds! I do have a soft spot for Dolly Parton, it’s true, but even I draw the line at having a statue of her in my front garden.

Anyway, I was suddenly distracted by this huge green thing swooping down from my next door neighbours’ roof. It was long and graceful, like a Victorian lady’s skirt. In fact, if I’d also seen a bag and a brolly, I’d have sworn it was Mary Poppins. It swirled above next-door’s front garden and then swooped down above their front steps into the road, disappearing out of sight.

What was it? A neighbour’s fancy dress costume broken free from their washing line? Some sort of curtain blown out from next-door’s loft conversion? The ghost of a Victorian lady? A UFO? Or, was it, as I first suspected, Mary Poppins?

See how the imagination can run wild with theories when you see something you can’t explain?

And it’s that very human tendency to jump to conclusions, coupled with neighbourhood curiosity that forms the subject of tonight’s classic Hitchcock suspense thriller. James Stewart plays a photographer confined to his Greenwich Village apartment by a broken leg. Passing the time spying on his neighbours, he comes to believe that one of them has murdered his wife.

At least murder didn’t feature in my theories about the unidentified green object. Perhaps I wasn’t given enough time to let my imagination run riot before the mystery was solved.

Yes, that’s right, it has been solved and it’s all a bit dull really. Apparently it was just a plastic sheet from my neighbours’ back garden that had blown up over their roof by a very strong wind.

That’s what they tell me anyway, but I prefer to think it was Mary Poppins coming to feed the birds.

Now here’s a question for you – how many other films can you think of, besides Rear Window, in which neighbours play pivotal roles?

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