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
Results --- ** Entire world placing hands skyward. ** :)
Well that's not surprising. Put Jimmy and Grace together (in an Alfred Hitchcock flick no less!), and you can't help but to have a classic piece of motion picture entertainment.
One of the all-time great suspense films, "Rear Window" (1954) places us (the viewer) squarely in the shoes of L.B. Jefferies (Stewart), as he peers out his "rear window" at his courtyard neighbors. (BTW -- My spelling of "Jefferies" in this review IS correct. I've noticed "Jefferies" almost always being misspelled "Jeffries" (lacking an "E"). The spelling of Jeff's last name can easily be verified at the beginning of the movie, when the camera pans across his leg cast, revealing the words: "Here lie the broken bones of L.B. Jefferies". I assume that the filmmakers didn't deliberately have Jeff's last name misspelled on the cast. Of course, I suppose that's always *possible*; but I fail to see a reason WHY they'd do it.) :-)
Hitchcock lets the plot of the movie unfold in sections, building the suspense and drama with his usual superb efficiency and skill. But "Rear Window", when you stop and think about it for a minute, doesn't really follow the same "format" as many (or most) other Hitchcock pictures -- in that we (the audience) are just as much in the dark about this possible "murder" across the courtyard as L.B. Jefferies is. In many of the director's films, "Hitch" lets his viewing audience know, right up front, that there's a "bomb under the table" (to use Hitchcock's own example from his interviews).Read more ›
Jeffries also has a girlfriend, a socialite named Lisa Fremont who is played by Grace Kelly, and the Princess never looked more beautiful or graceful than in this film. Her introduction into the movie is, in my humble opinion, the most beautiful "close-up" ever done, and when she kisses Jimmy Stewart how many men have wished that it were them?
OH! Did I mention there is a spine-tingling mystery story mixed in with all of the above? One of Jeffries neighbors is Lars Thorwald, played by Raymond Burr, who has an invalid wife who nags and belittles him. One day the wife is gone. Has she just gone on a visit? Or has Mr. Thorwald had enough and done her in? I won't answer that question, but I promise you'll be on the edge of your seat more than once as you find out. There is more than one scene where the suspense is almost unbearable.
Thelma Ritter is in several scenes as the home-health nurse who comes to look in after the immobilized Jeffries, and she steals all of her scenes with her witty and morbid sense of curiosity.Read more ›