I re-watched Hitchcock’s masterpiece the other night and having read the short story that it was based upon, I realized some things I hadn’t realized before. One is a clever way they adapted the story and the other is something of a goof that has to rely on movie logic to make it work.
The first is funny because if you’ve read the short story, then you know how the husband disposes of his wife, in that he buries her in the floor of the apartment above him. Now, in the film version, they change this a bit. It’s still the same plot, but the mechanism has changed. The husband doesn’t bury his wife, but hacks her up (much more gory and Hitchcockesque of course) but if you had read the book, you would have been intentionally lead astray in the film. At the beginning there is a married couple that comes in to an empty apartment to rent it and the building manager comes over to the window like in the story. Then later, after you’re trying to figure out what woman was visciously attacked, you see the husband of the couple come to the window, but you don’t see the wife. If you were following the narrative of the book, you might think that the movie’s main plot was all a ruse to toss a red herring your way, which would have been great. If all this is a bit dizzying, try reading the short story by Cornell Woolrich and watch the film, you’ll see what I mean. It’s very smart and I can only guess that it was done intentionally.
The other thing I realized, was that there was a goof when they were looking up the phone number for the couple across the way. I have to make some assumptions to come to this conclusion, so bear with me. They are in the middle of a heat wave in NYC, which I’m guessing is some time in July or August (we get ours in October in SF, but that’s a different bit.) They’re looking up his name and number ina phone book, which happens to be something that gets published once a year at the beginning of the year. Not a big deal so far, but there is the mention of the lease for the couple by the detective, in that they have used up 5 1/2 months of a 6 month lease. This would mean that they moved in around February or March, thus missing the deadline to get listed in the latest phone book, making that bit of the plot not possible.
I realize I could be wrong. The heat wave could be at a different time of the year, phone books may have been published twice a year then, or they may have carried their number with them from their last place. I think you can argue it either way, but it was one of those funny moments for me where the actions in the movie didn’t add up.