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'Rear Window' through a telephoto lens

‘Rear Window’ through a telephoto lens

Aug. 10, 1954: From left, Grace Kelly, Los Angeles Times photographer Phil Bath, James Stewart and director Alfred Hitchcock look over camera equipment used by press photographers and in the Hitchcock movie “Rear Window.”

In the famous film, James Stewart portrays a photojournalist laid up because of a broken leg. As he watches the behavior of his neighbors through his apartment window, he begins to suspect one of them of murder. A 35mm camera with a 400mm lens is featured prominently in the movie. No more details. If you haven’t seen the movie, do so now.

This image accompanied a short Los Angeles Times story the next morning that reported:

Actor James Stewart, who portrays a press photographer in a new picture, and Alfred Hitchcock, director of the film, have the official approval of Los Angeles’ news cameramen for the efforts.

More than 50 members of the Los Angeles Press Photographers Association attended a preview of the Paramount product, “Rear Window,” as guests of Stewart, Hitchcock and the leading lady, Grace Kelly.

Phil Bath, Times photographer and president of the association, gave a brief talk and presented Hitchcock a gold press camera for furthering relationships between film studios and the press.

Members of the association also showed the film people the intricacies of new photographic equipment.

According to Wikipedia, the camera and lens featured prominently in the movie was a 35mm Exakta Varex VX with a Kilfitt Fern-Kilar f/5.6 400mm lens.

Seeking some confirmation, I found this 1954 Life magazine article on “Rear Window.” The lead image is a closeup of a large lens. Clearly visible in the lens is the marking “Kilar 1:5.6/400” — backing up the Wikipedia article.

I suspect that Phil Bath and James Stewart in the above image are holding the same camera and lens featured in “Rear Window,” so I enlarged that section of the photo — see below.

A closeup from the top photo of the camera and lens held by Times photographer Phil Bath and actor James Stewart. Is it an Exakta Varex VX with a Kilfitt Fern-Kilar f/5.6 400mm lens? Credit: Los Angeles Times

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