Grace Kelly poses in a evening gown.Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly in a scene from the movie.

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Rear Window

Rear Window (1954) is a motion picture directed by Alfred Hitchcock, based on Cornell Woolrich's short story "It Had to Be Murder" (1942). It is considered by many filmgoers, critics and scholars to be one of Hitchcock's best and most thrilling pictures. more...

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Description

Jimmy Stewart plays the role of L.B. Jeffries (known as 'Jeff'), a professional photographer who has been confined to his bedroom after an accident has left him with his leg in a cast. Suffering from boredom, he takes to spying on his neighbors through the rear window. Over time, he comes to believe that a murder has taken place, though his friends and his girlfriend Lisa (Kelly) think his beliefs are imagined due to his idle behaviour.

Almost the entire movie is filmed from in Jeff's bedroom, and most of the POV (point of view) shots are Jeff's. In other words, we generally see and hear only what Jeff sees and hears. However, at key points in the movie this rule is broken (usually as a dual or triple POV shot, but also the single POV shots of Doyle, Stella, and Lisa). Furthermore, there is at least one moment when the viewer sees something while Jeff is asleep, and in two key sequences, characters are seen from angles not possible from Jeff's window. This trend increases throughout the film until the final sequence, when Jeffries' POV is nearly subverted.

The character of Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) is not seen in close-up and cannot be heard speaking clearly, until the climax of the movie when he appears in Jeff's room.

Alfred Hitchcock makes his cameo in the composer's apartment, winding up a clock.

Analysis

Hitchcock fans and film scholars have taken particular interest in way the relationship between Jeff and Lisa can be compared to the lives of the neighbors they are spying upon.

  • Thorwald and his wife are a reversal of Jeff and Lisa (Thorwald looks after his invalid wife just as Lisa looks after the invalid Jeff). However, Thorwald's hatred of his nagging wife mirrors Jeff's arguments with Lisa.
  • The newlywed couple initially seem perfect for each other (they spend the almost entire movie in their bedroom with the blinds drawn), but at the end we see that their marriage will not last and the wife begins to nag the husband. Similarly, Jeff is afraid of being 'tied down' by marriage to Lisa.
  • The blond ballerina "Miss Torso" entertains a lot of men, but remains faithful to her nerdy-looking boyfriend who returns from the army at the end of the film. Lisa says that Miss Torso's lifestyle resembles her own, hinting that she may be contemplating unfaithfulness to Jeff.
  • The content middle-aged couple with the dog seem content living at home. They have the kind of uneventful lifestyle that horrifies Jeff.
  • Miss Lonelyhearts, the depressed spinster, and the music composer lead frustrating lives, and at the end of the movie find comfort in each other (the composer's new tune draws Miss Lonelyhearts away from suicide, and the composer thus finds value in his work). There is a subtle hint in this tale that Lisa and Jeff are meant for each other, despite his stubbornness. The piece the composer creates is called "Lisa's Theme" in the credits.

The movie invites speculation as to which of these paths Jeffries and Lisa will follow.

Other analysis centers on the relationship between Jeff and the other side of the apartment block, seeing it as a symbolic relationship between spectator and screen. Film theorist Mary Ann Doane has made the argument that Jeff, representing the audience, becomes obsessed with the 'screen', where a collection of storylines are play out. This line of analysis has often followed a feminist approach to interpreting the film. It is Doane who, using Freudian analysis to claim women spectators of a film become 'masculinized', pays close attention to Jeff's rather passive attitude to romance with the elegant Lisa, that is, until she crosses over from the spectator side to the screen, seeking out the wedding ring of Thorwald's murdered wife. It is only then that Jeff shows real passion for Lisa.

Legacy

Brian De Palma paid homage to Rear Window with his movie Body Double (which also added touches of Hitchcock's Vertigo).

Read more at Wikipedia.org


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