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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Rear Window can be found here.
New York photographer L.B. 'Jeff' Jeffries (James Stewart), confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg, amuses himself by watching his neighbors from his rear window. He becomes convinced that one of his neighbors, salesman Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr), has murdered his invalid wife and sets out to prove it with the help of his girlfriend Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly) and his nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter).
Rear Window is based on the short story "It Had to be Murder" (1942) by American crime writer Cornell Woolrich (1903-1968). A remake of the movie, also called Rear Window, was released in 1998.
Jeff was taking a picture of a massive wreck in a car race. Somehow, maybe while standing in the pits in the center of the track, he'd gotten in front of the accident and snapped a shot a moment before the cars hit him and his camera.
There is mention of it being a hatbox, but what was inside the hatbox was never clearly stated in the movie. Most viewers assume it to be Thorwald's wife's severed head. Thorwald then kills the little dog and digs up the hatbox (all off camera).
Jeff was previously a photographer who worked in battlezones during World War II and often lived in the unfavorable conditions he described to Lisa during their first argument. He may have felt that Lisa was too delicate to accept such a lifestyle or to join him in traveling around the world. It's quite a presumptuous theory of Jeff's, especially when she proves to him that she's courageous and daring when she drops the note off to Thorwald and when she climbs the fire escape and enters Thorwald's apartment uninvited. Shortly after she returns after delivering the note and narrowly escaping detection by Thorwald, Jeff has an excited smile on his face that tells us he's beginning to understand Lisa and that she can share his adventurous life.
While Stella goes down to the police station to bail out Lisa, Jeff calls Detective Tom Doyle (Wendell Corey) to tell him that Lisa has found Mrs Thorwald's wedding ring. Suddenly, Jeff hears the door to his apartment building slam, and footsteps approach his door. Looking for a weapon, he can find only the flash for his camera. His door slowly opens to reveal Thorwald who asks Jeff what he wants. Jeff doesn't answer, so Thorwald begins advancing on him. Jeff repeatedly sets off the camera flash, blinding him, but Thorwald is only slowed, not stopped. He pulls Jeff out of his wheelchair and pushes him out the window. Hanging on to the sill for dear life, Jeff screams for Lisa and the police, who have just arrived at Thorwald's apartment. Luckily, the police are able to break Jeff's fall, and Thorwald confesses to his wife's murder. In the final scene, the camera sweeps the courtyard revealing the fates of the dwellers. Miss Lonelyhearts (Judith Evelyn) has made contact with the songwriter (Ross Bagdasarian) and is expressing her appreciation for his music. The woman on the fire escape (Sara Berner) is basket-training a new puppy. Miss Torso (Georgine Darcy) welcomes home her army boyfriend. Jeff, now with two broken legs, sleeps in his wheelchair while Lisa lounges nearby, reading a fashion magazine.
Alfred Hitchcock is known for having a cameo in many of his movies. His cameo in Rear Window is about a half hour into the movie in the scene in the songwriter's loft. Hitchcock is seen for a few seconds appearing as a guest or a housekeeper winding the clock above the songwriter's fireplace. A 281-pixel-high screencap can be viewed here.
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