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Rear Window

Rear Window (1954) is a motion picture directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring James Stewart, Grace Kelly, and Raymond Burr. It is considered by critics, scholars, and film historians to be one of Hitchcock's most thrilling pictures. It is based on Cornell Woolrichīs short story "It Had to Be Murder" (1942). John Michael Hayes wrote the screenplay for the movie.

Stewart plays the part of L.B. Jeffries, a professional photographer who has been confined to his bedroom after an accident left him with his leg in a cast. Suffering from boredom, he takes to looking out the window and spying on his neighbors. Over time, he comes to believe that a murder has taken place, though his friends and his betrothed (Kelly) find it hard to believe that he can uncover a murder plot when he is sitting in his own bedroom.

The entire movie is filmed from the point of view of Jeffries' bedroom, and for most of the film the viewing audience can only see what he sees, from his point of view. The character of Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) isn't seen in close-up, and he doesn't speak, until the climax of the movie when he appears in Jeffries' room.

There has been avid discussion among scholars of film about Rear Window and the way it examines the relationship between the characters played by Stewart and Kelly: most notably, how their relationship can be compared to the lives of the neighbors they are spying upon. There are:

  • The newlywed couple who think they are perfect for each other (they spend the entire movie in their apartment, in the bedroom with the blinds drawn), but eventually their sexual appetites begin to wane and we see that their marriage will not last. (L.B. Jeffries [Stewart] is afraid that he and Lisa [Grace Kelly] will have that kind of relationship, and he doesn't want to be tied down by it...at first.)

  • The beautiful blond dancer who entertains a lot of men, but at the end she remains faithful to her boyfriend who returns from the army. (Is Lisa that faithful to L.B.?)

  • The content middle-aged couple...too content, in fact. They're happy living at home, doing nothing exciting (a lifestyle that L.B. is appalled by). They're the couple with the nosy little dog.

  • Miss Lonelyhearts and the music composer, two people leading empty lives who want to find that special someone...and by the end of the movie, they finally do. (A subtle hint that Lisa and L.B. are meant for each other, despite his stubbornness).

  • Finally, the husband with the nagging wife, who has apparently lost all of his love for her...Lars Thorwald.

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

The composer is played by Ross Bagdasarian, a nephew of William Saroyan, now better known as David Seville[?], creator of The Chipmunks[?].

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

Rear Window was re-made as a TV movie in 1998, starring Christopher Reeve. The original version has been deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.



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