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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 have been 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.
Just when Jeff and Stella think she's going to take a handful of pills and commit suicide, Miss Lonelyhearts (Judith Evelyn) hears the songwriter playing the piano and stops. At the end, you see her in the songwriter's apartment telling him how much his music means to her. The assumption is that they'll start a romantic relationship.
The last scene of the movie tells all: Thorwald's apartment is being repainted for a new tenant. Miss Torso, the dancer, welcomes home a short man with glasses who is dressed in an Army uniform. The wedded couple with the dog that Thorwald killed have a new dog they're training with a basket on a small crane. The newlyweds to the left of Jeff's apartment are quarreling over a job he lost. The sculptor is working on another sculpture.
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 screencap can be viewed here.
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