Rear Window

Composed by: David Shire

Distributed by:
MovieScore Media

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


          Years ago, I watched Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly and was amazed that I could love this movie so much.  James Stewart plays a photographer sidelined by an injury that confines him to a wheelchair.  Bored to tears, he begins watching his neighbors to pass the time and witnesses what he believes is a husband murdering his wife.  In 1998, a television version of the film was released, starring Christopher Reeve as an architect confined to a wheelchair who begins passing his time the same way.  The movie ends somewhat differently, but the idea is the same.

In 2014, MovieScore Media released the Emmy-nominated score of the 1998 version of Rear Window, was created by American composer David Shire.  Born to a society band leader and a piano teacher, it seemed inevitable that Shire would continue his family's love of musical performances.  While at Yale University, Shire collaborated with Richard Maltby, Jr. to create two musicals and co-fronted a school jazz band.  In the 1960s, David Shire became involved in television scoring, moving into film scoring by the 1970s.  He is best known for his compositions for Conversations, The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3, Norma Rae, Return to Oz, Short Circuit, Zodiac and more.

The music of Rear Window (1998) is orchestral, featuring a distinct impression of intrigue and possible danger.  That danger is accentuated by strikes on metal, becoming more and more insistent and quite spooky as the score continues and Christopher Reeve's character comes closer to learning the truth about the man he believes murdered his wife.  Ominous hits to lower registry piano keys, intensely high pitched strings and more add to a sense of extreme danger.

It's not surprising that David Shire was nominated for an Emmy Award for this score.  Though I never saw the television version of this film, I found the score actually made me think about the original film and how well the music might work with that movie as well.  Shire's score is a perfect example of how to express danger and outright horror without using electronic sound or simple music blasts and screeching violins.  Well done and definitely worth the listen.


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