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. Written by
Col Needham <email@example.com>
While shooting, Alfred Hitchcock worked only in Jeff's "apartment." The actors in other apartments wore flesh-colored earpieces so that he could radio his directions to them. See more »
At the start, when Jeff is talking to Gunnison on the phone, the sky changes from cloudy to clear blue rather quickly. See more »
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...
[the camera pans around the courtyard; cut to later in the day]
For getting rid of that cast!
Who said I was getting rid of it?
This is Wednesday; seven weeks from the day you broke your leg. Yes or no?
Gunnison, how did you ever get to be such a big editor with such a small memory?
[...] See more »
Hitch opens his masterpiece with his usual signature a seemingly normal human apartment complex with many different kinds of ways of being all smashed together apparently living together quite peaceably. The musician, Miss Torso, Miss lonely heart all communally existing in tenuous quiet though some early stress between thorwald and the sculptor shows even early warning signs that perhaps thorwald is a bit of a misfit. The byplay between Jefferies and Stella is not meaningless chatter. Stella argues that coupling should be largely unconscious while Jefferies argues for Hitch's old attacking point human rationality should guide people to form union. This is the view that Hitch always attacks in many of his works; like Kubrick he is not an adherent to the rationality of humans. The touch that marks great thrillers from lobotomized gore tests for those in a coma is present. Little oddities that begin very slowly and grow to mammoth heights. Thorwald is the anomaly something is wrong with Thorwald. It starts quite innocuously; he tells the sculptor lady to shut up or mind your own business.
This all happens behind the failing romance between Jefferies and Lisa. It is the foreground but recedes as more and more oddities by Thorwald switch it to scenery. Notice the grounds of the pending dissolution ontology or disparate ways of being; she is a high society fashion model, he is a serious photographer for magazines. Hitch always seems to be alluding here as in SHADOW OF A DOUBT that great tension between people like uncle charlie and traditional society are the source of disturbances. As Thorwald appears to be obviously cleaning up the apartment after killing his wife, hitch produces what appears to be a perfectly rational exposition from the detective dispelling all of the actors and viewers paranoia. Notice again, the idiot of the picture is the scientific rational detective while Jefferies and Lisa rely much more on emotional intuition. The detective in a very sexist manner stares a Lisa's undergarments with a sneer on his face for Jefferies that says what could not be uttered back then: you are not thinking with your brain letting some woman ensnare you within her feminine intuitive irrationality.
The look on each character's face Jefferies, Lisa and Stella when they are forced that within this idyllic 50's Americana scene lurks a murderer who is currently cleaning up after dismembering his sick wife is an exact parallel to SHADOW OF A DOUBT. Hitch enjoys giving us our happy little toys to play with then dropping a rattlesnake in the middle of them. In PSYCHO just as Marion is gloating to herself about how she made fools out of all the people at her real estate office at that precise moment Hitch has the rain begin which starts the concatenation of causes that ends with her dead stabbed to death in the shower. Hitch wants us to experience disillusionment as he shows us neither the world nor people are quite as we imagine them to be. Our plans and views of our control over it the detective with his scientific rationalism and Marion with her joy at her deceptive ability come crashing down. In Marion's case Hitch always sanctions evil within his films; she pays the price for her deeds. Rear Window's detective is more how the world does not obey the scientific paradigm and sadly people are barely rational.
The climax of having Jefferies point himself out by accidentally answering the phone is brilliant; The photographic effects still in their infancy then of Jefferies using flash bulbs to buy himself some time a great masterstroke from Hitch. He then speeds up the attack; making appear quite lifelike no kung fu was needed also happily we did not have five minutes of jumping or other gymnastics. A great film from Hitch; a very enjoyable experience.
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