1954   USA Rear Window
Rear Window Image Cover
Additional Images
Director:Alfred Hitchcock
Studio:Universal Studios
Writer:Cornell Woolrich, John Michael Hayes
IMDb Rating:8.7 (143,091 votes)
Awards:Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 wins & 5 nominations
Genre:Crime, Mystery, Romance, Thriller
Duration:113 min
Alfred Hitchcock  ...  (Director)
Cornell Woolrich, John Michael Hayes  ...  (Writer)
James Stewart  ...  L. B. Jefferies
Grace Kelley  ...  
Grace Kelly  ...  Lisa Carol Fremont
Wendell Corey  ...  Det. Lt. Thomas J. Doyle
Thelma Ritter  ...  Stella
Raymond Burr  ...  Lars Thorwald
Judith Evelyn  ...  Miss Lonelyheart
Ross Bagdasarian  ...  Songwriter
Georgine Darcy  ...  Miss Torso
Sara Berner  ...  Wife living above Thorwalds
Frank Cady  ...  Husband living above Thorwalds
Jesslyn Fax  ...  Sculpting neighbor with hearing aid
Rand Harper  ...  Newlywed man
Irene Winston  ...  Mrs. Anna Thorwald
Havis Davenport  ...  Newlywed woman
Marla English  ...  Girl at songwriter's party
Robert Burks  ...  Cinematographer
Comments: Through his rear window and the eye of his powerful camera he watched a great city tell on itself, expose its cheating ways...and Murder!

Summary: Like the Greenwich Village courtyard view from its titular portal, Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rear Window is both confined and multileveled: both its story and visual perspective are dictated by its protagonist's imprisonment in his apartment, convalescing in a wheelchair, from which both he and the audience observe the lives of his neighbors. Cheerful voyeurism, as well as the behavior glimpsed among the various tenants, affords a droll comic atmosphere that gradually darkens when he sees clues to what may be a murder.
Photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries (James Stewart) is, in fact, a voyeur by trade, a professional photographer sidelined by an accident while on assignment. His immersion in the human drama (and comedy) visible from his window is a by-product of boredom, underlined by the disapproval of his girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly), and a wisecracking visiting nurse (Thelma Ritter). Yet when the invalid wife of Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) disappears, Jeff enlists the two women to help him to determine whether she's really left town, as Thorwald insists, or been murdered.
Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto convincingly argues that the crime at the center of this mystery is the MacGuffin--a mere pretext--in a film that's more interested in the implications of Jeff's sentinel perspective. We actually learn more about the lives of the other neighbors (given generic names by Jeff, even as he's drawn into their lives) he, and we, watch undetected than we do the putative murderer and his victim. Jeff's evident fear of intimacy and commitment with the elegant, adoring Lisa provides the other vital thread to the script, one woven not only into the couple's own relationship, but reflected and even commented upon through the various neighbors' lives.
At minimum, Hitchcock's skill at making us accomplices to Jeff's spying, coupled with an ingenious escalation of suspense as the teasingly vague evidence coalesces into ominous proof, deliver a superb thriller spiked with droll humor, right up to its nail-biting, nightmarish climax. At deeper levels, however, Rear Window plumbs issues of moral responsibility and emotional honesty, while offering further proof (were any needed) of the director's brilliance as a visual storyteller. --Sam Sutherland

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