I just watched “Rear Window” to review how Alfred Hitchcock presented its wheelchair-bound photojournalist character. Pretty amazing that the travel, excitement and adventure of his career are billed as such strong competition for Grace Kelly…
So far, I haven’t read the story the movie was based on, which apparently did not include Hitchcock’s romance angle. But I’m still tempted to go see what the original says about the fictitious photographer, and I made a cursory investigation to see if there was a newspaper career in the story author’s background.
The original tale, titled “It Had to Be Murder” or “Murder from a Fixed Perspective,” was by the late Cornell Woolrich, whom I found on Wikipedia, at IMDB, and in a centenary article at Time magazine. None of them mention journalism in his background, which Time summed up like this: “Woolrich’s life was as twisted and compelling as his work, and that’s saying something.” I did note two details that might interest Media Studies or Journalism students:
- Wikipedia and other sources (e.g. 100 American Crime Writers, edited by Steven Powell) say Woolrich left his estate to Columbia University to endow journalism scholarships in his mother’s memory. However, the Claire Woolrich Memorial Fellowship Fund, now worth more than $2 million, apparently offers a more general writing award and is not part of the journalism school, which makes sense for the bequest of a mystery writer. Columbia’s website has very little about it. But I did find it listed in this Columbia University School of the Arts writing program booklet.
- “Rear Window” also inspired a copyright case related to the works based on the original story; it made it to the Supreme Court, and you may run into it in an advanced media law class.
Back to the movies: After posting that “Rear Window” trailer to my 1950s Journo-Movies page, I noticed “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” right below it.
I will leave it to the movie fans, problem-solvers with the skills of a Perry Mason, and the very curious to recognize why that’s a coincidence.
Hmm. I was wondering if there were any journalist episodes of “Ironside” to make it a trifecta, then discovered a made-for-TV move and short-lived series about a 1976-77 media mogul named R.B. Kingston. Even his initials are interesting. Have to watch for that on the TV rerun channel!