Rear Window (1954)

rear window poster 1954 movie poster hitchcock
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Perfect movie


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Rear Window

Studio:  Patron, Inc.

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  September 1, 1954

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Jinkies! We should get a Mystery Mobile and solve crimes with a dog!

L.B. Jefferies (James Stewart) is an award winning photographer stuck in his apartment with a broken leg during a heatwave.  Tended to by his physical therapist Stella (Thelma Ritter) and his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly), Jeff dodges questions about marriage and waits to get back on the road.  When Jeff suspects one of his neighbors has murdered his wife, Jeff, Lisa, and Stella set out to get the proof they need to bring him in.  Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) doesn’t know he’s being watched…and Jeff must keep it that way.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window adapts the 1952 story “It Had to Be Murder” by Cornell Woolrich.   Following Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder (also released in 1954), Rear Window became part of the “5 Lost Hitchcocks” (with Rope, The Trouble with Harry, Vertigo, and The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)) that were out of circulation until the ’80s due to copyright issues.  The movie was nominated for Best Director, Best Writing—Screenplay, Best Cinematography—Color, and Best Sound Recording.  Rear Window was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.


Dang…I’m the luckiest guy…and I don’t want her.

I love Hitchcock, and Rear Window is my favorite Hitchcock film.  The movie is also in my top ten movies (of all time) and holds up through multiple viewings.  I was lucky enough to get to see it in the theater when it was remastered and would go see it again in a heartbeat…it is a deserving classic.

The story for the movie is layered and very smart.  On the surface, you have a group of amateur gumshoes trying to solve a murder that may or may not have occurred.  This in itself is fun and ratchets up the tension as the wheelchair-bound Jeff can’t even really help the situation but exacerbates it by getting others involved.  Sometimes I wish that they had been completely wrong and that it was a morality lesson about prying into others private lives, but the tension created by this prying is perfect.


Someone just caught you looking!

With this story and the set-up you get some of the deeper issues.  You have parallels between Stewart and Kelly’s relationship and Burr and his wife’s relationship…plus, the curse of loneliness with Ms. Lonelyhearts (Judith Evelyn).  It presents the two extremes of what could occur between Stewart and Kelly.  It also illustrates the microcosm isolation of the apartment complex (which Sara Berner accuses the group of after the death of her dog)…everyone is an island.

It really comes down to voyeurism though.  The movie pumps up this issue by Stewart creating stories and peeping in windows of those around him.  The movie is considered a classic in making the viewers voyeurs as well (one of Hitchcock’s interests) and then shatters it when both Stewart and the audience are caught spying on Burr in the final act.


It’s Hitch!

The cast is perfect.  Stewart is a bit too old for Kelly, but it still works and Thelma Ritter provides just enough comic relief without becoming distracting.  Raymond Burr’s soft spoken nature actually makes Thorwald a bit of a sad-sack and sympathetic at times (before having him flip to madman).  Even the small characters watched by Stewart gain personalities, and the actors make them real through their mini-stories.

The movie also has one of Hitchcock’s most impressive sets.  The entire movie is a soundstage and was allegedly as hot as some of the weather in the movie.  The detail to the apartment complex provides the fun and also creates this weird surreal nature of Stewart being outside like a god looking down.

Rear Window is a perfect film.  Many pick Vertigo as Hitchcock’s best picture, but I stick with Rear Window.  Though Vertigo has a perfect blend of music and visuals, I have issues with the story (and some of the acting)…something that Rear Window doesn’t suffer from.  Rear Window captures everything that Hitchcock is about…humor, suspense, and even some terror.  Hitchcock followed Rear Window with To Catch a Thief in 1955.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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