Sunday, April 1, 2007

Today's Short Story by Cornell Woolrich

The movie Rear Window was based on this short story by Cornell Woolrich. It was originally titled, It Had To Be Murder, and was published in 1942. I own it as part of a two book series called A Treasury Of Great Mysteries, edited by Howard Haycraft and John Beecroft. They belonged to my late Auntie Laura and are among my most beloved books. These books contain stories, novelettes, and entire novels.

Here is one of those magical examples of story into movie that works beautifully. As I read the printed words, I could "see" Jimmy Stewart and Raymond Burr. Hitchcock added his genius by including Thelma Ritter and Grace Kelly in the film. But the cinematic devices are right there in the story. Woolrich, also known as William Irish, wrote such descriptive scenes that Hitchcock really didn't need to change much detail.

The story has terrific suspense, which builds and builds as this chair-and-bed-ridden man watches the happenings in a neighbor's windows. The reader is right there with him, wondering what is going on, and then thinking it is really nothing, and then brought back to knowing there is trouble.

An interesting use of words - we tend to say, "delayed reaction", and in this story he says, "delayed action."

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story, which was twenty-four pages long. I definitely want to read more of Cornell Woolrich. I read somewhere that he is known as the "father of noir fiction."

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