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Crime, Thriller, Mystery, Romance
IMDB rating:
Alfred Hitchcock
James Stewart as L. B. 'Jeff' Jefferies
Grace Kelly as Lisa Carol Fremont
Wendell Corey as Det. Lt. Thomas J. Doyle
Thelma Ritter as Stella
Raymond Burr as Lars Thorwald
Judith Evelyn as Miss Lonelyhearts
Ross Bagdasarian as Songwriter
Georgine Darcy as Miss Torso
Sara Berner as Wife living above Thorwalds
Frank Cady as Husband living above Thorwalds
Jesslyn Fax as Sculpting neighbor with hearing aid
Rand Harper as Newlywed man
Irene Winston as Mrs. Anna Thorwald
Havis Davenport as Newlywed woman
Storyline: Professional photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries breaks his leg while getting an action shot at an auto race. Confined to his New York apartment, he spends his time looking out of the rear window observing the neighbors. He begins to suspect that a man across the courtyard may have murdered his wife. Jeff enlists the help of his high society fashion-consultant girlfriend Lisa Freemont and his visiting nurse Stella to investigate.
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Reading from Top to Bottom...Hitchcock's Sophisticated Masterpiece
Not only does REAR WINDOW (RW) have Alfred Hitchcock's trademark wit, suspense, and romance (with a touch of friction) in spades, but it's one of his most well-crafted, cleverly-staged movies; in fact, even though RW is based on a Cornell Woolrich story, I can't imagine this story being told as effectively in any medium other than cinema. However, the technical accomplishments (explained most entertainingly in the DVD's documentaries) would be nothing without the engaging characters. James Stewart's neighbors are interesting enough to warrant their own movies, and in addition to providing a wry microcosm of New York City life (the only dated thing about it is the lack of air conditioning), they all reflect possible outcomes for the somewhat stormy romance between laid-up shutterbug Stewart and the luminous Grace Kelly as his upscale fashion maven inamorata. As Brent Spiner said while hosting a showing of RW on TNT, the real perversion of the film is Stewart's reluctance to commit to the irresistible Kelly! In fact, one of the things I like about the movie is the way it shows these two very different people gradually learning to compromise and work together. The piquant final shot shows that a woman can have a happy relationship with a man without submerging her own personality -- refreshing for the 1950s! Great supporting cast, too, including Wendell Corey, Raymond Burr in one of his last bad-guy roles before PERRY MASON, and the scene-stealing Thelma Ritter. Incidentally, the restored special edition RW DVD was put together just in time to include Georgine Darcy ("Miss Torso"), then one of the last surviving cast members. Darcy died earlier this year; she will be missed.
Did I miss something?
I had heard a lot about this film so was really looking forward to seeing it. I watched it in the company of my wife and her sister and at the end all three of us felt the same about it as my review below. I found it a huge disappointment - it trundled along at a slow pace and I kept waiting for something to happen which would be thrilling or suspenseful etc - typically Hitchcock. I am still waiting. I kept wondering, if someone is a professional photographer with a massive telephoto lens at his disposal, why did he not take any photographs. Isn't that what voyeurs do? Also, could someone tell me the purpose of the back massages - I am no masseuse but there seemed to be no rhyme or reason to them. This movie was a horrible waste of my time.
One of the greatest Hitchcock films, but not his best
While Psycho is still my favorite Hitchcock film, this comes very, very close to that. Having only seen the made-for-TV remake starring Christopher Reeves, I was quite excited to see this, as it's referred to by many as one of the(if not the) greatest Hitchcock thriller. Now, while I still prefer Psycho over this, I must say that it's a very well-done and effective mystery-thriller, and most of the second half had me almost biting my nails from suspense. The plot is very good, and its theme appeals to some of the most base instincts, including the tiny little voyeur that we all have. The pace is great, I was never bored during any point of the movie. The acting is great, Stewart and Kelly give excellent performances. The characters are all well-written, credible, and, as they almost always are under Hitchcock's direction; very human. The cinematography is excellent; most of the camera angles are from inside the main character's apartment, which creates a very effective and scary feeling of claustrophobia and adds to the suspense. The mystery keeps you guessing throughout the movie, but the ending seemed a little like a letdown... there's no definite answer to the mystery. Then again, maybe that was Hitchcock's intention... to any true mystery, there is no real answer. And Hitchcock probably wanted to have each viewer make up an answer for him- or herself. The film has some great suspense, and a few of the scenes will have you sitting at the edge of your seat. The ending was very close to being anticlimactic, but it managed to make up for it by having one of the most thrilling and nail-biting endings in a Hitchcock film ever. The main reason I rate Psycho higher than this on a personal scale is that the theme works better there... the killer is more easily understandable, while here he's just... well, sloppy and arrogant, half of the time. That was my one complaint while watching the movie, and it won't bring down my rating, not even a notch, because I'm positive it was the way Hitchcock intended it to be. His characters are always human, and what is more human than failing? I recommend this film to any fan of thriller, mystery and/or Hitchcock. You won't be disappointed. Great film. 10/10
Excellent. Sharp, clever, funny, inventive, with great values all round.
Ah it's a movie that's in IMDB's Top 20, and it has good reason to be. For starter's let's look at the simple premise - James Stewart is L. B. Jeffries, a photographer who is currently recovering from an injury on assignment. With his broken leg he's stuck in his apartment, with nothing better to do than spy on his neighbours and be visited by his girlfriend, Lisa Carol Fremont (Grace Kelly), his officer friend Wendell, and his nurse, Stella. Jeffries observes the coming and goings of the various apartments he can observe (from his rear apartment window) and it is one of these - a Raymond Burr - who draws his attention because. could it be that the man has committed some heinous crime? Let's find out.

One of the beautiful things about the movie is its superb use of location. The whole movie, bar a couple of brief scenes, is set in the apartment. This would seem claustrophobic but Hitchcock never inhibits us like this - he lets us escape through Jeffries binoculars and camera lenses, and his roving camera swoops down to let us see what the characters see (but never, thankfully, anything more than that - this is how you do suspense!). The set design is wonderful - the apartment is just the right size and is nicely laid out. However the real praise is for all the other apartments visible to Jeffries - an actual habitable set with multiple stories where characters can be observed only as they pass by their own windows (yeah, they don't care much for curtains). There's a sense of individuality gone in to each home, despite the fact we can only see barely elements of each. This is helped by a nice, differing range of characters inhabiting each and going about their daily lives - there's a mini soap-opera contained in the movie, all observed at a distance. Excellent stuff.

Acting? It's great here. There's some nice depth to the characters here, with them feeling like actual real people rather than slick one-dimensional tags. Stewart is very proficient in this type of role - he was born to it - and Kelly proves she is more than just a pretty face, managing to effuse her character with both grace (*groan*) and steel. Even supporting characters like Stella are good (she has a wickedly black sense of thinking that's hilarious). What's so incredible is that the characters we observe from a distance in the other apartments (and with whom we never actually interact with) have as much depth as most main characters in movies nowadays. Excellent script and acting in this movie.

I've already praised Hitchcock's set location and camera work, so I won't prattle on about him much more. He does a stellar job here and, in my opinion, this is the best piece of work he's done (that I've seen). It's virtually flawless and you're never let down (or bored). Well done. It's a shame he lost out on an Oscar (although he did have tough competition that year with `On the Waterfront').

`Rear Window' is a great example of how you can successfully have sharp acting, script, and directing and not feel the need for a slew of swear words and gratuitous violence. Regarded as a classic, and deservedly so. 9.1/10
An Allegorical Tale Of 50's McCarthyism
Hitchcock's masterpiece 'Rear Window'is a poignant example of how film can truly reflect a society and its questionable values. I think that for a modern viewer Hitchcock, through such films as 'The Birds'and 'Psycho' has attained a mythic quality of artisan beauty within cinematic dramas that analyse the social fabric of society.

When watching 'Rear Window', I was amazed at the allegorical depths that can be read through this amazing film. 'Rear Window' although in narrative, primarily focuses on the murder of Mrs Thorwald I believe the most socially conscious message discerned comes from the questionable investigate processes of vigilante L. B Jefferies. I think Hitchcock develops into a cinematic genius when one reads these questionable detective processes as an allegory for nineteen fifties McCarthyism. One could discern that Hitchcock has created 'Rear Window' as a monument to this oppressive period in American History and through the ineffectual Detective Doyle the last remnants of morality . I believe Hitchcock could be seen through Jefferies as utilising the camera (both on and off screen) as an ambiguous weapon against crime. However, it is the way we perceive Hitchcock's weapon against 'crime'; as either anti-voyeurism or anti-murder that will develop what message is received.
Tell me what you saw and what you think it means
What makes Rear Window a masterpiece? Well, it's got one of the best directors of all time, one of the most likable leads, one of the most beautiful ladies... but even these first-rate ingredients don't always result in greatness, so there must be more. I would say it's about *richness*: there is a lot going on beneath the surface.

Still, the surface itself is flawless. The mystery plot about Jeff (James Stewart), photographer with a broken leg who spies a murderous neighbor, can't be improved upon. The script is a masterclass in visual storytelling, set-ups and pay-offs; see how Jeff's profession provides the reason of his condition, a tool to investigate the case and a defense during the climax.

Even potentially slow moments crackle. The back-story between Jeff and his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) is delivered with acerbic wit in a conversation with nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter). The "why don't they just go to the police" moment, which Hitchcock usually dreaded (he famously told Truffaut his characters don't go to the police because "it's dull"), flows by thanks to the quirky banter between Jeff and his detective friend Doyle (Wendell Corey).

Beneath this, there are several layers of subtext. The first is about marriage. Lisa wants to marry Jeff, but he is reluctant, regarding her as too snobbish and sophisticated. Everything Jeff sees from his window is about relationships (or lack thereof): the attractive ballerina with her suitors; the older, lonely woman; the bachelor struggling with his work; the newlyweds who spend all their time in bed; the mature couple with a dog as surrogate son. And, of course, Thorwald (Raymond Burr) killing his wife, which acts as a double catalyst: at first, it taps into Jeff's unconscious fears about failed relationships; then, it becomes a reason of bonding between him and Lisa, as she proves surprisingly good at boys' games. How does she finally entice Jeff? She sneaks into Thorwald's apartment and retrieves a piece of evidence... a wedding ring.

Rear Window is known to be about voyeurism, but I would say it's also about *spectatorship*. Stuck in his chair, Jeff follows from his window the unfolding events, much like us viewers staring at the screen. He is unable to interact directly with the "outside world", so he sends others (Stella, Doyle, but mostly Lisa) to do the dirty work; however, he is nearly powerless to defend them... and himself, when threat creeps into his own secluded universe.

10/10 for one of cinema's greatest classics.
Alfred Hitchcock top-notch suspense/thriller embroils a magazine photographer confined to wheelchair in killing
Alfred Hitchcock awesome intrigue/comedy in which a magazine photographer seeks diversion in watching his neighbors , often with a telephoto lens and binoculars , discovering a possible murder . Thrilling flick with funny moments , nice acting , adequate settings and funny dialogue . The tale is ordinary Hitchcock fare that plays and preys the senses . It involves a bewildered as well as hapless wheelchair bound photographer (James Stewart) because of a broken leg who spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them (Raymond Burr) has committed murder his spouse and dismembered the body . The photographer soon enlists the help of his high society fashion-consultant sweetheart named Lisa Freemont (Grace Kelly), his visiting nurse called Stella (Thelma Ritter) and a Detective (Wendell Corey) to investigate the weird deeds .

This agreeable and often hilarious picture from master of suspense has a memorable scene after another and was one of the main Alfred Hitchcock films made for Paramount . In fact , at the time the set was the largest indoor set built at Paramount Studios . The entire picture was shot on one set, which required months of planning and construction . The film was shot quickly on the heels of Dial M for murder (1954), November 27 1953-February 26 1954 . Alfred Hitchcock's movies have become famous for a number of elements and special iconography : vertiginous height , blonde bombshells , voyeurism , long non-dialogue sequences , a matter of mistaken identity etc . This charming as well as inventive mystery movie has these particularities ; furthermore contains a fun intrigue , amusing situations and keeps the action at feverish pitch . The first part of this production is slow and artificial ; however , the rest of this suspense picture takes off at high speed . Interesting and intriguing screenplay adapted by John Michael Hayes based on a story by Cornell Woolrich . Screenwriter John Michael Hayes based Lisa on his own wife, who'd been a professional fashion model when they married . The original story by Cornell Woolrich had no love story and no additional neighbors for L.B. Jeffries to spy on, and those elements were created by Alfred Hitchcock and John Michael Hayes . Alfred Hitchcock's movies were known for featuring famous landmarks and he also was known for making his actors follow the script to the word, and in this movie the characters use their dialogue taken from an engaging as well as fun script . Very good acting by the great James Stewart as as a photographer who soon becomes convinced that one neighbor has killed his wife and Grace Kelly as gorgeous and elegant girlfriend , both of them make a marvelous duo . Grace Kelly made three of her eleven films with Hitchcock; this film, as well as Catch to a thief (1955) and Dial M for murder (1954), but Rear window film was thought of as the best . Excellent support cast such as Thelma Ritter , Wendell Corey , Kathryn Grant , Frank Cady and Raymond Burr . And of course , Hitch cameo , about a half hour into the film, winding the clock in the songwriter's apartment. Colorful and glimmer cinematography in Vistavision by Robert Burks , Alfred's ordinary cameraman , showing nice images from studio . The film negative was considerably damaged as a result of color dye fading as early as the 1960s , nearly all of the yellow image dyes had faded out. Despite fears that the film had been irrevocably damaged, preservation experts were able to restore the film nearly to its original coloration . Rousing as well as atmospheric score by the classic composer Franz Waxman .

The motion picture was stunningly directed by maestro of thriller Alfred Hitchcock . The film was unavailable for decades because its rights were bought back by Alfred Hitchcock and left as part of his legacy to his daughter. They've been known for long as the infamous "Five Lost Hitchcocks" among film buffs, and were re-released in theatres around 1984 after a 30-year absence. The others are The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), The rope (1948), trouble with Harry (1955), and Vértigo (1958). This essential and fundamental Hitchcock will keep fascinated and thrilling right up until the edge-of-your-seat climax . And the American Film Institute ranked this as the #48 Greatest Movie of All Time and ranked #3 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Mystery" in June 2008.
Copernican Cinema
Spoilers herein.

I just don't like Hitchcock. I admit that he `delivered value' in his day, but as I review his films today, I find them trite, badly dated. The style of acting he used now looks `actorly.' His camera framing is well considered but unimaginative by today's standards. The stories are not engaging (to me).

But this film really is a classic. Not because of the acting or the dialog, but because it was so cleverly conceived. And because the execution is so purely cinematic.

The first problem a writer/director faces is what stance the camera takes. Is it a fairly static `audience' as if you were watching a play? Is it godlike in always seeing things from the best perspective, though sometimes humanly impossible? Is it a character? Or does it follow a character sometime showing their point of view, sometimes their reaction? Does it act?

Do we admit the camera exists -- by introducing jiggle, or showing operator's functions like focusing, developing? Do we dissolve the camera's perspective by juggling time or perspectives? Do we try a `100 simultaneous cameras' approach?

Hitchcock usually uses the static theatrical approach -- way too much for modern tastes. He punctuates this by sometimes doing a character focused shot, and sometimes a spectacular-for-the-time godshot -- as in the `Psycho' shower scene.

But this film is more purely conceived for the camera. There are no godshots. Nearly all the camerawork is from Jeff's eye, or of Jeff's apartment, with a few notable exceptions. What is novel is why this works -- the set and entire story were composed backwards. That is, instead of having some slice of life that the camera discovers, this reality exists as if it were created by the camera before the action starts. Everything that is required to motivate the world is comprehensible from that apartment -- the entire physics of this world is based on its center.

In other words, Hitchcock's achievement here is not how he accommodates the camera to the world, but the world to the camera.

Pure genius.
A deeply disturbing but masterful movie
First, the basics: this is a masterfully made, spell-binding movie. Yes, there are all sorts of holes in the plot, but this movie is so well made, and becomes so tightly paced, that you either don't notice them or forgive them because you are so caught up in the intrigue.

That said, this is a deeply disturbing movie to watch. Often, you feel as if you, too, are trapped in a chair, like Jimmy Stewart's character, forced to watch stories that become more and more unpleasant, like the tale of "Miss Lonelyhearts".

But you also realize that that is what movie going is all about: watching other people's lives from the apparent safety of your seat in the theater - until one of the characters in one of those stories comes looking for you! This is a masterful suspense thriller at the end. But it doesn't make you feel good about yourself. Would you have forgotten about Miss Lonelyhearts when she was apparently about to commit suicide because you were so wrapped up in another story?

As I said at the beginning, this is a masterfully constructed and directed movie. But if you pay attention to what is going on and think about it, it won't make you feel good about yourself, or the act of watching others' stories.
"Close the Curtain... Please!" (Spoiler)
The writing for "Rear Window" is little more than an insult to the intelligence of modern day man. Understand that, based on the chronology of my all time favorite films I do have the ability to watch a piece from this era realistically, giving all the necessary consideration to when it was made.

First of all, most of the eventual suspicions acted upon by the cast are thin at best. The ones they're built on, (the basis for Stewart's initial disturbance) are completely unwarranted. There simply isn't enough evidence to ignite the investigation.

The culprit, (Raymond Burr), is suspected of killing and dismembering his wife. The viewing audience is expected to believe that he meticulously disposes of the body with the exception of her head, which, if I'm not mistaken, he buries in the flowerbed outside his own apartment building. Come on, this guy's not portrayed as a serial killer so don't give me that "subliminal need to be caught" crap!

When the neighbors little dog becomes curious and begins digging in the garden he promptly becomes the films second casualty. Instead of properly disposing of the tiny carcass it is left lying on the walkway beside the flowerbed, sending its owner and the rest of the complex into a state of panic. Was he nearly caught in the Act? I don't know, give me at least a slight indication! I could go on and on. The nighttime voyeurism from Stewart's window with the room brightly lit, etc… More disturbing than anything else was the dialogue. I don't believe that people communicated in this manner in the fifties, or anytime in the twentieth century for that matter. The conversations between Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly are like a psychotic production of Shakespeare meets The Farmer in the Dell. Oddly enough the one refreshingly realistic role was that of Thelma Ritter, who plays Jimmy Stewart's home healthcare worker.

Rear Window is worth watching, if for no other reason than to witness Hitchcock's phenomenal camera work. I am a big fan of Alfred Hitchcock. Unfortunately, three of his most popular films, (Psycho excluded), are three of my all time least favorite. In fact, the nicest thing that I can say about this movie is that it wasn't nearly as bad as "Vertigo".

A foot note. It might surprise you to know that I've seen this film many times. You see; I have insomnia and there is a classic movie channel that plays it late at night on a semi-regular basis. For me the viewing experience comparable to a shot of Nyquil and three Zanax.
See Also
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