Rear Window (1954)

PG   |    |  Mystery, Thriller


Rear Window (1954) Poster

A wheelchair-bound photographer spies on his neighbors from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

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8.5/10
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  • Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter in Rear Window (1954)
  • Alfred Hitchcock and Grace Kelly in Rear Window (1954)
  • Georgine Darcy in Rear Window (1954)
  • Grace Kelly in Rear Window (1954)
  • Grace Kelly and Raymond Burr in Rear Window (1954)
  • James Stewart in Rear Window (1954)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


8 April 2004 | dxia
10
| Our Obsession with Voyeurism
After viewing 'Rear Window' again, I've come to realize that Alfred Hitchcock was not only a great moviemaker but also a great moviewatcher. In the making of 'Rear Window,' he knew exactly what it is about movies that makes them so captivating. It is the illusion of voyeurism that holds our attention just as it held Hitchcock's. The ability to see without being seen has a spellbinding effect. Why else is it so uncommon to have characters in movies look directly into the camera? It just isn't as fun to watch someone when they know you're there. When we watch movies, we are participating in looking into another world and seeing the images of which we have no right to see and listening to the conversations that we should not hear. 'Rear Window' and Powell's 'Peeping Tom' are some of the best movies that aren't afraid to admit this human trait. We are all voyeurs.

When watching 'Rear Window,' it is better to imagine Alfred Hitchcock sitting in that wheelchair rather than Jimmy Stewart. When the camera is using longshots to watch the neighborhood, it is really Hitchcock watching, not Stewart. Hitchcock's love of voyeurism is at the center of this movie, along with his fascination with crime and his adoration of the Madonna ideal.

In many of Hitchcock's movies, 'Rear Window,' 'Vertigo,' 'Psycho,' 'The Birds,' etc, the blonde actresses are objects. Notice how rarely they get close with the male leads. In 'Vertigo,' Stewart's character falls in love with the image of Madeleine; in 'Psycho,' we see the voyeur in Hitchcock peeking out of Norman Bates at Marion; and in 'Rear Window,' Jeff would rather stare out of his window than to hold the beautiful Lisa by his side. For Hitchcock, these women are ideals that should be admired rather than touched.

However, the story of 'Rear Window' isn't about the image of women, as it is in 'Vertigo.' 'Rear Window' focuses more on seduction of crime, not in committing it but in the act of discovering it. At one point in the story, Jeff's friend convinces him that there was no murder, and Jeff is disappointed, not because someone wasn't dead but because he could no longer indulge into his fantasy that someone was. Think how popular crime shows are on television, and noir films at the movies. People do not want to commit crimes; they want to see other people commit them.

'Rear Window' is one of the most retrospective movies I've ever seen. In a span of two hours, it examines some of the most recurrent themes in film. When we watch 'Rear Window,' it is really us watching someone watch someone else. And all the while, Hitchcock is sitting on the balcony and seeing our reaction. It is an act of voyeurism layered on top of itself, and it allows us to examine our own behavior as we are spellbound in Hitchcock's world. The only thing that I feel is missing in the movie is a scene of Jeff using his binoculars and seeing himself in a mirror. Why did Hitchcock leave it out? Maybe because it would have been too obvious what he was doing. Or maybe he was afraid that the audience would see themselves in the reflection of the lens.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of the photographs on the wall in Jeff's (James Stewart's) apartment in this movie is a photograph of him standing in front of a aircraft during World War II. Mr. Stewart served active duty as a U.S. Army Air Forces pilot during the war, flying missions as a B-24 pilot.


Quotes

Voice on radio: Men, are you over 40? When you wake up in the morning, do you feel tired and rundown? Do you have that listless feeling...
Jeff: Jefferies.
Jeff's Editor: Congratulations, Jeff!
Jeff: For what?
Jeff's Editor: For getting rid of that cast!
Jeff: Who said I was getting rid of it?
Jeff's Editor: This is Wednesday;...


Goofs

When Thorwald returns home from one of his trips out in the rain lugging his suitcase, the camera (from Jeff's point of view) pans from a glimpse of Thorwald in the street, across Miss Torso's apartment where she is preparing to go to bed, to the second floor hallway where Thorwald is walking toward his apartment. This observed action takes only a few seconds - an impossibly short time frame for Thorwald to have entered his building through its front door, walked over to the stairwell, climbed the stairs to the second floor and then be seen walking along the second floor hallway.


Alternate Versions

The film has been fully restored from original negatives in 1998 and a new negative has been created that resembles the original color scheme of the film. However, the first kissing scene had to be restored digitally because the source elements were in bad condition.


Soundtracks

Many Dreams Ago
(1954) (uncredited)
Music by
Franz Waxman
Lyrics by Mack David
Played when Miss Lonelyhearts goes out to the restaurant across the street

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Mystery | Thriller

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