Rear Window (1954) Poster

(1954)

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10/10
Rear Window is 64
yocarlosvarelapr15 April 2018
I must say, no signs of aging. Embedded in its day and yet totally relevant. Perhaps the most entertaining of all of Hitchcock's films. Marriage is the theme and murder is the hook. James Stewart is as perfect as he's ever been. He uses the contradictions of his character to create someone immediately familiar. Thelma Ritter's practicality includes a rant about the destructive effect of intelligence. Grace Kelly enters the scene like a character in a dream. She remains a sort of dream that's why to see her climb the killer's balcony is one of my most cherished film memories. If you haven't seen the film you may think I'm rambling but if you have, you know exactly what I mean, don't you?
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10/10
Our Obsession with Voyeurism
dxia8 April 2004
After viewing 'Rear Window' again, I've come to realize that Alfred Hitchcock was not only a great moviemaker but also a great moviewatcher. In the making of 'Rear Window,' he knew exactly what it is about movies that makes them so captivating. It is the illusion of voyeurism that holds our attention just as it held Hitchcock's. The ability to see without being seen has a spellbinding effect. Why else is it so uncommon to have characters in movies look directly into the camera? It just isn't as fun to watch someone when they know you're there. When we watch movies, we are participating in looking into another world and seeing the images of which we have no right to see and listening to the conversations that we should not hear. 'Rear Window' and Powell's 'Peeping Tom' are some of the best movies that aren't afraid to admit this human trait. We are all voyeurs.

When watching 'Rear Window,' it is better to imagine Alfred Hitchcock sitting in that wheelchair rather than Jimmy Stewart. When the camera is using longshots to watch the neighborhood, it is really Hitchcock watching, not Stewart. Hitchcock's love of voyeurism is at the center of this movie, along with his fascination with crime and his adoration of the Madonna ideal.

In many of Hitchcock's movies, 'Rear Window,' 'Vertigo,' 'Psycho,' 'The Birds,' etc, the blonde actresses are objects. Notice how rarely they get close with the male leads. In 'Vertigo,' Stewart's character falls in love with the image of Madeleine; in 'Psycho,' we see the voyeur in Hitchcock peeking out of Norman Bates at Marion; and in 'Rear Window,' Jeff would rather stare out of his window than to hold the beautiful Lisa by his side. For Hitchcock, these women are ideals that should be admired rather than touched.

However, the story of 'Rear Window' isn't about the image of women, as it is in 'Vertigo.' 'Rear Window' focuses more on seduction of crime, not in committing it but in the act of discovering it. At one point in the story, Jeff's friend convinces him that there was no murder, and Jeff is disappointed, not because someone wasn't dead but because he could no longer indulge into his fantasy that someone was. Think how popular crime shows are on television, and noir films at the movies. People do not want to commit crimes; they want to see other people commit them.

'Rear Window' is one of the most retrospective movies I've ever seen. In a span of two hours, it examines some of the most recurrent themes in film. When we watch 'Rear Window,' it is really us watching someone watch someone else. And all the while, Hitchcock is sitting on the balcony and seeing our reaction. It is an act of voyeurism layered on top of itself, and it allows us to examine our own behavior as we are spellbound in Hitchcock's world. The only thing that I feel is missing in the movie is a scene of Jeff using his binoculars and seeing himself in a mirror. Why did Hitchcock leave it out? Maybe because it would have been too obvious what he was doing. Or maybe he was afraid that the audience would see themselves in the reflection of the lens.
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10/10
Another Hitchcock masterpiece
FlickJunkie-210 April 2001
Alfred Hitchcock is considered by most to be the master of suspense. I believe he was also a master of understanding human nature. He intuitively understood that human beings are voyeurs by nature, not in the perverted sense, but in the curious sense. We are a species that slows down to look at accident scenes and steals furtive glances at lovers in the park who are oblivious to everything but each other. A major appeal of cinema and television is that they offer us an opportunity for guilt free voyeurism. When we watch a film, aren't we in essence looking through a window and watching people who behave as if they don't realize we are there?

Hitchcock realized this and took voyeurism to the next level, allowing us to watch a voyeur as he watched others. While `Rear Window' as a whole is probably not quite at a level with `Vertigo' (which was far more suspenseful and mysterious with a powerful musical score) as a cinematic accomplishment, it is more seductive because it strikes closer to our human obsessions. Hitchcock's mastery is most evident in his subtle use of reaction scenes by the various characters. We watch an event that Jeff (James Stewart) is watching and then Hitchcock immediately cuts to his reaction. This is done repeatedly in various layers even with the other tenants as they interact with one another. For instance, in the scene with Miss Lonelyheart (Judith Evelyn), we see her throw out the man who made a pass at her and then we see her reaction after she slams the door, followed by the reaction of Jeff and Lisa (Grace Kelly). In another scene, Detective Doyle (Wendell Corey) sees Lisa's nightclothes and presumes she will be staying the night. Hitchcock shows the suitcase, then Doyle's reaction, and then he goes to Jeff who points his finger at him and says `Be Careful, Tom'. This elegant scene takes a few seconds and speaks volumes with little dialogue. Such technique gets the viewer fully involved, because if we were there this is exactly what we would be doing, watching the unfolding events and then seeing how others around us responded. In essence, it puts us in the room with them.

Hitchcock was a stickler for detail. For instance, he aimed the open windows so they would show subtle reflections of places in the apartment we couldn't see directly. However, there were certain details included or excluded that were inexplicable. Would Thorwold really be scrubbing the walls with the blinds open? Would Lisa be conspicuously waving at Jeff while Stella (Thelma Ritter) was digging up the garden? Moreover, wouldn't Lisa have taken off her high heels before climbing a wall and then a fire escape? This film had numerous small incongruities that are normally absent from Hitchcock films. Though these are picayune criticisms, they are painfully obvious in the film of a director known to be a compulsive perfectionist.

The acting is superb in this film. Jimmy Stewart is unabashedly obsessed as the lead character. Photographers have an innate visual perceptiveness and the ability to tell a story with an image and Stewart adopts this mindset perfectly. Grace Kelly has often been accused of being the `Ice Maiden' in her films, yet in this film she is assertive and even reckless. Though cool at times, she is often playful and rambunctious. I always enjoy Thelma Ritter's performances for their honesty and earthiness and this is another example of a character actor at her best. Raymond Burr often doesn't get the recognition he deserves for this role, which is mostly shot at a distance with very few lines. Yet, he imbues Thurwold with a looming nefariousness using predominantly physical acting.

This film was rated number 42 on AFI's top 100 of the century sandwiched between `Psycho' (#18) and `Vertigo' (#61). I personally think more highly of `Vertigo' but it is a minor distinction, because I rated them both 10/10. `Rear Window' is a classic, a masterpiece of filmmaking technique from a director who was a true pioneer of suspense.
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A Deep & Entertaining Classic
Snow Leopard20 June 2001
One of Hitchcock's greatest masterpieces, "Rear Window" is a deep and entertaining classic with many strengths, and a little bit of everything. A fine suspense story is combined with romantic tension in the main plot, and there are numerous sub-plots, some humorous and some moving, all with many psychological overtones. The main characters are wonderfully portrayed and full of life. The apparently simple setting in an apartment complex is developed into a world filled with intriguing and sometimes unsettling possibilities, and this apparently average neighborhood comes to life with a wealth of lavish visual detail and interesting minor characters. It is the kind of film-making that (like many of Hitchcock's greatest movies) is very flattering to the viewer. The director assumes that his audience will pay close enough attention to appreciate the many subtleties with which he has filled the movie. It rewards both careful attention and repeated viewings, since there is much more here than merely a suspense plot, as good as that story is in itself.

For the first 30 minutes or so, we simply get to know the characters. Jimmy Stewart gives one of his best performances as a photographer recuperating from an injury, forced to spend several weeks staring out his apartment window at the minor dramas in the lives of his neighbors. Grace Kelly is ideal in the role of his perfect girlfriend, who can never find a way to break down Stewart's reserve. The study of their relationship would have made a good movie by itself. Almost every action and every word between them is filled with meaning, and what they see in the lives of others is an interesting reflection of the tensions and possibilities in their own present and future. Thelma Ritter is wonderful as a colorful, no-nonsense nurse who constantly sheds some light - sometimes unwanted - on what is happening between them. The action and suspense that occur later serves in large part as a catalyst that resolves some of the important issues between the two.

After we get to know the characters and their world, things start to happen, as Stewart becomes engrossed in some of the things he has seen. The ethical and moral concerns of meddling in others' affairs become intertwined with more urgent questions about what may have happened in those other apartments, and from then on the tension builds steadily. It leads up to a riveting climactic sequence filled with suspense, and made even more meaningful by our awareness of its deeper significance to the main characters.

There is much more that could be said, but you should see this for yourself. It is a classic that will be enjoyed not only by thriller fans, but by anyone who appreciates carefully crafted movies with a lot of depth.
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10/10
Well of course when you've got nothing better to do with a broken leg you will accuse your neighbor of murder!
Kristine3 December 2005
Finally, I watched "Rear Window" by famous Alfred Hitchcock. First off, I saw this movie on the top 250, and it's #14 on top of that! I mean, it's gotta be great or a classic, right? Also, I'm a fan of the Simpsons, and I got the 6th season where Bart breaks his leg and has to watch the kids outside and accuses Flanders of murdering his wife, Maude. I watched it with commentary and the writers said this was taken from the movie "Rear Window", I had to see this movie! I know it sounds silly that I was more inspired by a show, but it's a good reference if it's from The Simpsons.

"Rear Window" is an excellent movie and a great classic that should never be forgotten! After 51 years, this is still a well talked about movie and I can see why. Jimmy Stewart, he's just so great as L.B., I loved his madness and his dark comical role. He doesn't even try, but you can't help but laugh at a lot of his lines, the way he looks, and the way he presents every scene. He didn't have a lot of movement, he is confined to a wheel chair, but he is so effective and perfect. No one could have replaced him as L.B., he's a terrific actor! Grace Kelly, what a beauty! Beauty and talent, what a great combination and she had it. Playing Liza, I loved her character so much. She started out as this extremely feminine lovely woman who is struggling with L.B., because he is having doubts about marrying her, and you can tell she loves him so much and is willing to do anything for him and to make their lives work, despite his adventurous side as a photographer and her being an indoor kitten. When L.B. talks of the murder to Liza, she is doubtful but never dismisses that it could be a possibility, and stays with him into the end. She finally goes into danger and grabs it by the you know what and wins L.B.'s heart.

I loved the ending, to me it was just one more good laugh with L.B. and Liza. I won't tell, you'll just have to trust me, it was a brilliant way to breath and smile again after all the suspense and drama. "Rear Window" is a true classic and I'm extremely grateful to the reviewers of IMDb who saw this movie and gave it great reviews, and the writers of The Simpsons! If it were not for you guys, I nor other members of my generation would probably not view it! Let's keep this classic alive!

10/10
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10/10
Reading from Top to Bottom...Hitchcock's Sophisticated Masterpiece
Not only does REAR WINDOW (RW) have Alfred Hitchcock's trademark wit, suspense, and romance (with a touch of friction) in spades, but it's one of his most well-crafted, cleverly-staged movies; in fact, even though RW is based on a Cornell Woolrich story, I can't imagine this story being told as effectively in any medium other than cinema. However, the technical accomplishments (explained most entertainingly in the DVD's documentaries) would be nothing without the engaging characters. James Stewart's neighbors are interesting enough to warrant their own movies, and in addition to providing a wry microcosm of New York City life (the only dated thing about it is the lack of air conditioning), they all reflect possible outcomes for the somewhat stormy romance between laid-up shutterbug Stewart and the luminous Grace Kelly as his upscale fashion maven inamorata. As Brent Spiner said while hosting a showing of RW on TNT, the real perversion of the film is Stewart's reluctance to commit to the irresistible Kelly! In fact, one of the things I like about the movie is the way it shows these two very different people gradually learning to compromise and work together. The piquant final shot shows that a woman can have a happy relationship with a man without submerging her own personality -- refreshing for the 1950s! Great supporting cast, too, including Wendell Corey, Raymond Burr in one of his last bad-guy roles before PERRY MASON, and the scene-stealing Thelma Ritter. Incidentally, the restored special edition RW DVD was put together just in time to include Georgine Darcy ("Miss Torso"), then one of the last surviving cast members. Darcy died earlier this year; she will be missed.
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Excellent. Sharp, clever, funny, inventive, with great values all round.
Aidan McGuinness12 November 2002
Ah it's a movie that's in IMDB's Top 20, and it has good reason to be. For starter's let's look at the simple premise - James Stewart is L. B. Jeffries, a photographer who is currently recovering from an injury on assignment. With his broken leg he's stuck in his apartment, with nothing better to do than spy on his neighbours and be visited by his girlfriend, Lisa Carol Fremont (Grace Kelly), his officer friend Wendell, and his nurse, Stella. Jeffries observes the coming and goings of the various apartments he can observe (from his rear apartment window) and it is one of these - a Raymond Burr - who draws his attention because. could it be that the man has committed some heinous crime? Let's find out.

One of the beautiful things about the movie is its superb use of location. The whole movie, bar a couple of brief scenes, is set in the apartment. This would seem claustrophobic but Hitchcock never inhibits us like this - he lets us escape through Jeffries binoculars and camera lenses, and his roving camera swoops down to let us see what the characters see (but never, thankfully, anything more than that - this is how you do suspense!). The set design is wonderful - the apartment is just the right size and is nicely laid out. However the real praise is for all the other apartments visible to Jeffries - an actual habitable set with multiple stories where characters can be observed only as they pass by their own windows (yeah, they don't care much for curtains). There's a sense of individuality gone in to each home, despite the fact we can only see barely elements of each. This is helped by a nice, differing range of characters inhabiting each and going about their daily lives - there's a mini soap-opera contained in the movie, all observed at a distance. Excellent stuff.

Acting? It's great here. There's some nice depth to the characters here, with them feeling like actual real people rather than slick one-dimensional tags. Stewart is very proficient in this type of role - he was born to it - and Kelly proves she is more than just a pretty face, managing to effuse her character with both grace (*groan*) and steel. Even supporting characters like Stella are good (she has a wickedly black sense of thinking that's hilarious). What's so incredible is that the characters we observe from a distance in the other apartments (and with whom we never actually interact with) have as much depth as most main characters in movies nowadays. Excellent script and acting in this movie.

I've already praised Hitchcock's set location and camera work, so I won't prattle on about him much more. He does a stellar job here and, in my opinion, this is the best piece of work he's done (that I've seen). It's virtually flawless and you're never let down (or bored). Well done. It's a shame he lost out on an Oscar (although he did have tough competition that year with `On the Waterfront').

`Rear Window' is a great example of how you can successfully have sharp acting, script, and directing and not feel the need for a slew of swear words and gratuitous violence. Regarded as a classic, and deservedly so. 9.1/10
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10/10
In the mid-fifties, Hitchcock brought remarkable suspense by reverting to the logic of a silent film (with an observer behind the lens as the hero)
MisterWhiplash15 January 2004
Many reviewers and critics have commented on Alfred Hitchcock's theme of the voyeur in Rear Window (the mere thought of a voyeur in a suspense film conjures up images from other classic Hitchcock films), and I felt that voyeuristic bug as well. But I realized something that I hadn't thought of as I watched it for the first time- this is a return for Hitchcock to his skills as a master of silent-film chills. As L.B. Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart in one of his most infamous performances) is in his wheelchair viewing out one perspective to other inhabitants in the apartment, the audience views right along-side him. So, for more or less 50 percent of the film, the only sounds we hear are the sounds of mere realism, as Hitch's camera keeps a close eye on things.

As the thrills build in the second hour of the film there is considerably more dialog than the first hour. This could, and occasionally does, present a challenge for the audience member that could either be accepted & payed off or resented- can one sit back and just watch things unfold as in a film from the 20's? Personally, the experience of seeing these events unfold and increase was near electrifying. Along with Stewart's performance, which ranges from amusing to terrified, compelling to frightened (i.e. Hitch's 'everyday man'), there's Grace Kelly as Lisa, who carries her own beauty & inner conflicts, and Raymond Burr as Thorvold, who could have things going a little better with his wife.

If we empathize with Jeff, it's because we become as much apart of his mind-set/POV as he already is, and that's the ticket to the film's true success. Not only is there a magnetic kind of skill to which Hitchcock (and cinematographer Robert Burks) presents us with the apartments' supporting and minor characters and how their fates are played out against the enclosed backdrop, but the psychology of Jeff becomes parallel, or against, to the audience's. This is the story of one man's temptation and compulsion to be involved with those he can see (much like movie-goers have with any given film), and how perception of the realities around him become ours. Rear Window may have become dated for some movie-goers, particularly since the theme has been played on by other movies and TV shows (like The Simpsons for example). Yet there is a certain effectiveness to it all, even in the earlier scenes, that holds an edge over imitators. A+
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10/10
"Rear Window" describes Hitchcock at his best...
Nazi_Fighter_David23 June 2000
Warning: Spoilers
"Rear Window" comes very close to be the perfect Hitchcock film that illustrates nearly all his great abilities...

Hitchcock demonstrates in "Rear Window" that he is a great voyeur, that he loves to spy on his characters making each viewer into a voyeur, forcing audience to see everything from his hero's point of view... James Stewart is hold up in his Manhattan two rooms apartment with a broken leg... He passes his time spying on his neighbors through back window in an orgy of voyeurism...

Speaking of technical challenge, "Rear Window" is Hitchcock prototype... Most of the film is shot from one confined set... It is also notably theatrical since it takes place in one room...

Hitchcock forces limitations on himself, as he did in "Lifeboat" when he shot entirely on a restricted set, in only one boat... And in "Rope" (his first Technicolor film) where the single setting for the production had only walls and furniture...

Having restricted his movements, Hitchcock is demanded to be ingenious in order to keep curiosity alive... He builds a realistic courtyard of apartments with inhabitants in it, and the restriction becomes a potency and the technique a fascinating example of what he chooses to call "pure cinema."

Hitchcock's camera tracks out through the windows... It never goes inside the apartments... We never see close-ups of the characters... We can only see what Stewart sees... We feel like we are watching people through a window instead of in a movie...

Hitchcock doesn't use any kind of music... We hear natural sounds, occasional live music played in the surrounding apartment...

"Rear Window" describes Hitchcock at his best for the way it works on several levels, yet hides its own complexity... Stewart, tied in too by pressure from his high society girl who loves him and wants to marry him... Everything he sees out is related to this problem... He avoids to discuss marriage with her, though he himself does not seem to realize it...

All the while, the people in the 31 apartments that he can see live out their little lives… The tormented middle-aged bachelor, composer/songwriter; the couple who beats the heat by sleeping on a fire escape; the newlyweds and lovers; the tragic "Miss Lonelyhearts" and her fantasies of entertaining gentlemen callers; the hearing-impaired sculptor working day and night; the vivacious and sexy blonde dancer "Miss Torso" who does suggestive routines in bikini tops and, most important, the hysterical "nagging wife" - lying in bed - and her grouchy fed-up husband, a jewelry salesman...

One 'great shot' reveals just how involved Stewart has become in their lives when Miss Lovelyheart - in her romantic dinner for two - raises her glass in a toast to her imaginary lover and Stewart raises his glass as well...

The urban backyard setting is the night city terrain of "Rear Window," a night city shattered by the sharp sound of a loud female scream and the sound of breaking glass...

Hitchcok presents Stewart who sees (or think he sees) what he is powerless to stop... The insidious salesman strangely attracts Stewart's attention... His Passtime becomes an obsession after he suspects that he has murdered his ailing wife and specially when he notices that she is missing... His ravishing fiancée (Grace Kelly) and his nurse (Thelma Ritter) warn him that voyeurism is a crime and is dangerous... But Stewart persists, eventually he was turned on ... This explain perfectly his specific use of a huge zoom lens to do his peeping as he monitors the murderer's activities... The murderer and his wife became subject of Stewart's parody with the "too perfect, too talented, too sophisticated," Grace Kelly...

"Rear Window" is visually very strong... Hitchcock designs the film in such a way so that his view is our view... He manipulates our emotions because he knows perfectly his work... He has the film synchronized in his mind... Shooting and editing are, for him, a simple mechanical phase... The creativity has all taken place before...

The first shot of "Rear Window" is a perfect example of this reality - as his many typical first shots - for the way it visually transmits the whole complex to the audience...

Hitchcock is a master at using his camera to create suspense... Like Stewart, we are restricted in movements, paralyzed inside the apartment, immobile, trapped in a room where we are anxious and uncertain... There is no way we can warn the outcome... This is what 'suspense' is all about—not surprise... An effect of intense and prolonged expectancy, lacking all help in the state of knowing that we possess but the characters do not... And, of course, all this great suspense is created by only 'visual' means...

Stewart gives the performance of his life behaving at ease... He was the perfect Hitchcock character: a voyeur by profession, an unpretentious photo journalist who becomes caught in a terrifying event...

When you see the film, feel the menacing 'look' of the murderer staring those evil eyes at you... And don't forget to catch Alfred Hitchcok in his customary cameo appearance, this time repairing a clock... Enjoy!
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9/10
The Master In Control
telegonus8 April 2001
Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, wittily written by John Michael Hayes, is one of his many films I think of as much of a technical exercise as anything else. It is in this sense like his silent The Lodger, the static, confined Lifeboat, and the cut-less, one set Rope. Considered in this light it is a cold masterpiece, playing more with the audience's thoughts and fears than with its softer, more personal emotions. As such, it is a very cerebral and satisfying piece of work. The plot is deceptively simple: a photographer (James Stewart) is stuck indoors with his leg in a cast during a hot New York summer. His socialite girl-friend (Grace Kelly) is eager to marry him but Stewart has his doubts, since he lives a wandering life and is from a different social class. He spends most of his time idling about and playing with his camera. In time he becomes a voyeur (which he probably already is, to a degree) and begins to observe his neighbors' private lives, as he views them through his lens in the courtyard. He develops attitudes toward each of them, ranging from mild amusement to empathy to sexual interest, depending on who he's looking at. Without realizing it he is really looking at different aspects of either himself or his relationship with Kelly. The courtyard is a kind of mirror of his soul. These people and their predicaments represent different sides of his (and to a lesser extent Miss Kelly's) personality, offering glimpses of potential past, present and future selves; and it is not always a flattering picture. The newlyweds are continually having sex; Miss Torso is a beautiful young woman who entertains many suitors; there is a childless, somewhat pathetic-seeming middle-aged couple who dote over a pet dog; Miss Lonelyhearts is a depressed, aging spinster with no apparent friends; and the young, bachelor song-writer, when he isn't trying to compose songs, is either throwing parties or fits. Then there are the Thorwalds, a squabbling couple across the way. Stewart is at first only slightly interested in them until Mrs. Thorwald disappears and her husband starts going out at night carrying paper parcels that look like they came from a butcher shop. Soon Stewart is, understandably, suspicious. He convinces Kelly that something is amiss, but has trouble with his detective friend. His nurse Stella agrees that something is wrong across the courtyard, and the threesome become amateur detectives. Rear Window is great fun. It's a thriller, a romance, a mystery, and at times a comedy of manners. The actors all give superb, unflashy performances. Hitchcock had been making movies for three decades by the time he undertook this one, and he knew exactly what he was doing; everything happens as it should, on time, with no fuss or bother. The courtyard set is magnificently designed and photographed; it looks both artificial and realistic, and seems almost to change at times, as circumstances dictate. This is, after Dial M For Murder, Hitchcock's first truly 'fifties' film, which is to say it is a far cry from the genteel romances and spy stuff he'd been doing before. There's less use of atmosphere here, as a new, more independent director was emerging, decidedly post-Selznick, often using color. Hitchcock is playing a sort game of cinematic chess, moving people and things around here and there, changing camera angles slyly, never showing his hand. The film lacks only warmth. All sorts of learned books and articles have been written about this picture, some of them quite silly; all at least partly right. This is at times a profound film, but it also aims to entertain, it has a light touch, and it can be scary, it's romantic about couples and cynical about people. There's a little bit of everything in it,--it's a work of art.
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9/10
Tremendous thriller. Classic Hitchcock.
Michael O'Keefe18 June 2000
In '54, I was seven years old and this is one of the first 'grown up' movies I remember seeing. I have seen it at least ten times since and realize seeing something different each time.

James Stewart is a photographer in a wheelchair recovering from an accident. He passes the time by watching his neighbors out his apartment window. He thinks that he witnessed a murder and has trouble convincing his girlfriend, Grace Kelly, to help prove a crime was committed.

Three scenes that always stuck with me:(1) Stewart fighting off his attacker with flashbulbs (2) the smoldering kiss (3) the glowing cigarette in the dark apartment.

Every bit a classic. I think this is THE BEST Hitchcock movie. No offense intended toward PSYCHO, but this movie has the more human aspects of fear and terror. This super cast includes Raymond Burr, Thelma Ritter and Wendell Corey.
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8/10
Midcentury voyeurism
Dennis Littrell16 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
This is the quintessential Hitchcock flick, easy to understand, addictively interesting, featuring great stars (Grace Kelly and James Stewart), familiar bit players (Thelma Ritter in one of her best roles as Stewart's talkative nurse), and a kind of almost imperceptible satire on the human animal. In this case, Hitchcock has glorious fun displaying a whole range of human behaviors through the device of watching them through a Greenwich Village rear window before the age of air conditioners when everyone had to leave their windows open (and some even slept on the fire escape–I've done that) to cope with the appalling heat and humidity during an eastern seaboard heatwave.

James Stewart stars as L.B. Jeffries, an adventurerous photographer who has a broken leg and is confined to his apartment in a cast while it heals. Bored beyond belief, he becomes a voyeur of his neighbors. Meanwhile there is his girlfriend, none other than Grace Kelly playing a "too perfect" socialite intent on winning his heart and soul. Trouble is Jeff worries that it won't work out, that they are essentially incompatible, she a socialite, who always goes first class, he a roughing it man of the world comfortable with second class accommodations. Naturally the audience (me!) finds it incredible that he isn't madly in love with her.

Raymond Burr (long TV's Perry Mason) in gray hair and specks has an interesting role as Lars Thorwald, seen almost entirely from a distance across the courtyard doing very suspicious things with knives and suitcases and mysterious comings and goings in the middle of the night. Bored voyeurs wonder what is going on. There is some light romantic play between Stewart and Kelly, but it is decidedly secondary to the voyeuristic adventures seen through the rear window: the saga of Miss Lonelyhearts, the ardor of the newlyweds, the angst of the songwriter, the exhibitionism of the dancing beauty, the pampered dog in a basket, and Thorwald and his invalid and then missing wife. Hitchcock's America at midcentury. Each of the little stories within the story has a plot and a resolution: Miss Lonelyhearts finds her man. The songwriter finds somebody who appreciates his work. Dancing beauty's man (looking from a distance a little like Woody Allen in an army uniform) returns. The groom seeks a break from his exhaustive marital duties, etc. Hitchcock's sense of satire has the softest touch, which is why, I think, he is so beloved. In the final scene Grace Kelly, finding her man asleep, puts down the adventure book she is reading (for his benefit) and picks up Harper's Bazaar to check the fashions. One gets the sense of future marital bliss and especially, marital reality.

There is some tension and some mystery, but nothing too strenuous for little old ladies from Pasadena, and nothing to offend anybody and nothing too graphic. You can see this with the kids and your maiden aunt and all will find it interesting. See it for Thelma Ritter, the sadonic character actress of many films, most notably this and All About Eve (1950).

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
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10/10
Pure Class
chaz-7686229 March 2018
Wow, this movie was just great.

Everything about it was just flawless. The pacing and the story kept me on the edge of my seat for the whole run time. I felt invested in the story and was interested about where it would go next. The acting was superb and helped pushed this film along. I also particularly liked how it didn't tell us everything from the beginning and we had to figure the mystery out along with the actors.

In one sentence: "one of the best films ever made".
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It really blows me away...
moviebuf-2428 January 1999
Warning: Spoilers
I first saw Rear Window about 4 years ago in a video/film program that I was attending. At that time I was simply blown away by it.

For starters, I was simply impressed w/ the set. The fact that you can see out of Jeffries' apartment window, across the courtyard and into the other tenant's apartments to see their goings on is incredible. The music used is a musician tenant creating a piece. The fact that it ebbs and flows w/ the action, until the very end when you actualy hear the finished piece committed to vinyl is really cool.

I liked the fact that you only see what Jeffries sees and therefore have to try and guess what actually happened.

While the movie, in a way is actualy about nothing, yet it is about voyeurism and to a lesser degree about love between two apparently different people. However, that is a side line to the actual plot.

for Hitchock, this film uses suspense, rather than gross thriller, such as Psycho or the Birds did to draw you into the film. I've seen it many times and always get something out of it every time. I own a non restored copy on tape and watch it at least twice a year-or more.

It's simply one of the best movies ever made that I've seen and one of my all time favorites. A near perfect movie if I say so myself.

Hitchcock realy paid attention to detail in this movie. The fact that you see "miss Lonely Hearts" actions, Even Lars Thorwald's action is incredible. The attention to detail is simply incredible.
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Copernican Cinema
tedg23 April 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

I just don't like Hitchcock. I admit that he `delivered value' in his day, but as I review his films today, I find them trite, badly dated. The style of acting he used now looks `actorly.' His camera framing is well considered but unimaginative by today's standards. The stories are not engaging (to me).

But this film really is a classic. Not because of the acting or the dialog, but because it was so cleverly conceived. And because the execution is so purely cinematic.

The first problem a writer/director faces is what stance the camera takes. Is it a fairly static `audience' as if you were watching a play? Is it godlike in always seeing things from the best perspective, though sometimes humanly impossible? Is it a character? Or does it follow a character sometime showing their point of view, sometimes their reaction? Does it act?

Do we admit the camera exists -- by introducing jiggle, or showing operator's functions like focusing, developing? Do we dissolve the camera's perspective by juggling time or perspectives? Do we try a `100 simultaneous cameras' approach?

Hitchcock usually uses the static theatrical approach -- way too much for modern tastes. He punctuates this by sometimes doing a character focused shot, and sometimes a spectacular-for-the-time godshot -- as in the `Psycho' shower scene.

But this film is more purely conceived for the camera. There are no godshots. Nearly all the camerawork is from Jeff's eye, or of Jeff's apartment, with a few notable exceptions. What is novel is why this works -- the set and entire story were composed backwards. That is, instead of having some slice of life that the camera discovers, this reality exists as if it were created by the camera before the action starts. Everything that is required to motivate the world is comprehensible from that apartment -- the entire physics of this world is based on its center.

In other words, Hitchcock's achievement here is not how he accommodates the camera to the world, but the world to the camera.

Pure genius.
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9/10
Wonderfully suspenseful film!
jwanichek19 May 2018
This movie really is a thinker. It keeps you going the whole time, never a dull moment! Hitchcock's directing is phenomenal in this thriller starring Grace Kelly and James Stewart. The way Hitchcock uses shadows and scenery in this film is in like any other.
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10/10
A Review on Rear Window
axg-8336114 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 film, Rear Window, features a shocking neighborhood murder, only to be uncovered by a peeping wheelchair-bound photographer, L.B Jefferies, and his cover girl girlfriend Lisa Fremont. How we know such details from each character is due to Hitchcock's panning and fantastic sense of mise en scène. At the opening of the film, what is first seen is the window the main character L.B. Jefferies spends his days looking out of. From there, the camera's motion moves as if it were to float about the neighborhood, catching the neighbors, sleeping Jefferies, his shattered camera and a magazine with his girlfriend on it. Without getting too into it, Hitchcock had already planted important information into the viewer's mind without having to achieve the same thing through an extensive amount of dialogue. Very aware of what and how people and objects are placed, he knew precisely what he was doing. One of the first things the viewer learns about the photographer is that he seems unhappy to be in a relationship with a 'perfect woman', he finds him and Lisa to be incompatible due the fact that the two come from different worlds. Each neighbor featured in a way relates to Jeffries's relationship situation or relationships in general. For example, there was a moment where the shot was focused on Miss Lonelyhearts raising her glass to nobody, and Jefferies did the same. This could because Not to mention the most obvious aspect of the film, the one vantage point. Hitchcock creatively chose to limit the motion of the camera to the motion of the main character. Doing this, it is impressive how he envisioned and conveyed what he wanted using other camera techniques. For example, he used close ups on several neighbors to shift the focus onto them. In addition, there were several closeups of both Jeffries and Lisa individually and together. The proximity in these shots along with the eye leveled position of the camera play a role in how intimate the viewer gets to the character, including their feelings and emotions. This, I believe creates a more intense feeling when suspense is reached towards the end of the film. The use of light is also intriguing. Its symbol of clarity and when not present, obscurity. Having this in mind, it is important to mention that whenever the characters had to hide from the gaze of Mr.Thorwald, they would retreat into the darkness. In addition, whenever Lisa came over to talk to Jeffries about the potential murder, she would turn the lights on, begging for him to stop scaring her and talking nonsense. However, when she began to believe him, she stood in the darkness alongside him. Lights were also turned off when Mr. Thorwald found Lisa with his wife's jewelry, right before he attacked her. Not to mention that light was also used to fend away the big angry Thorwald from strangling Jefferies sooner. Besides that, where the film stands in the beginning, is drastically different to what it becomes later in the film. A man with relationship problems quickly turns to a gang attempting to catch a neighborhood murderer. However, this change is not remotely noticed, which makes it important to note. The suspense portrayed was incredible. The unsafe and dangerous measures that Lisa went through to invade the Thorwald apartment was only the beginning of a very hair-raising, intense ending. There were very sudden moments in between cuts where Lisa would be shown and the terrifying responses from Jefferies and Stella would also be shown right after. Meaning that there were moments where we couldn't see when Thorwald was coming or not. The film was an overall great thriller to experience.
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10/10
The Best Thriller I've Ever Seen
coleboggan13 February 2018
I think that Alfred Hitchcock's rear window is a fantastic movie. I'd go as far as to say that it is one of the best thrillers I have ever seen. There are a few main aspects of the film that I would like to point out that sold me on this wonderful film: the framing and filming techniques, suspense building, and pacing of the film were all perfect, and made for an interesting, thrilling, and over-all exciting display of some of theater's finest filming techniques that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the credits roll. First, the framing of the film was excellent. Upon first hearing the premise, that the entire movie takes place from one man's room, you might be hesitant. Such a boring, consistent setting couldn't possibly make for an interesting film. But within the first few minutes of starting, you find very quickly that these first impressions were very wrong. The film manages to build a complex, active, and very real world using just the room of main character, photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries, and the view from his window. By cutting from shots of his apartment to the surrounding complex outside, the movie manages to make you think there's more to this film than just Jeff's living room. On top of this, the framing techniques used keep the film exciting. To start, you never see more than Jeff can through his window; this allows you to really connect with the characters, and theorize about the events going on at the same time as they do. We'll talk more about this under pacing, but the film always gives you just enough information to make you wonder what's really going on. Using what's not shown in frame as much as what is, Hitchcock manages to keep you glued to the screen throughout the movie. This lasting interest is brought about just as much through the pacing and suspense of the film. While Jeff is looking out his window one day, he notices some suspicious behavior from one of his neighbors, and begins to think he has witnessed a murder. As the film continues, the evidence of this is given to you in bits and pieces. You only see half the story, and half to piece the puzzle together yourself, along with the main characters, who slowly start to believe Jeff's theories about his neighbor's actions. However, with every bit of evidence towards the crime, Jeff's detective friend strikes it down with a completely logical explanation, leading Jeff, and the audience along with him, to believe that he might be delusional. Every plot point in the film is spaced beautifully, so that every time you think you've figured it out, some new idea or suspicious act comes up and throws you completely off. As Jeff slowly convinces more people that he's witnessed a murder, there are always others who outright deny his ideas. Another point related to pacing is the building of suspense. The movie manages to subtly build suspense as the movie progresses, resulting in a thrilling conclusion. One method it uses to do this is by confining our hero. Due to an accident at a race track, Jeff is confined to the wheelchair in his room with a broken leg. He is unable to leave his room, which is what results in him watching his neighbors through his rear window. The suspense continues to build as he watches helplessly as the events before him unfold. There's nothing he can do but watch it happen and try to make a convincing argument. With all of these filming concepts combined, Alfred Hitchcock was able to produce one of the best thrillers of all time, certainly the best I've ever seen. It was intense, interesting, and kept me theorizing until the last second. With a great cast and exceptional production value, I would easily recommend this film to anyone looking for a classic with an exciting plot and interesting premise that will keep you engaged and entertained.
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9/10
First-rate thriller
Kunal Mirchandani12 February 2018
Having watched it for the second time recently, I was struck by how razor-sharp the film's script actually was. Sure, it didn't have a big Agatha Christie-type mystery reveal; but the banter and repartee between the main characters was just so well-written. Of course, the film's framing and camerawork is legendary (for good reason) and Grace Kelly has a luminous screen presence. Suspenseful, intriguing, and a film that shows off a master at the peak of his craft.
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10/10
Voyeurism, Murder, Stewart and Kelly Make for a Hitch High
Ed Uyeshima5 March 2006
It doesn't have the psychological complexity or panoramic sweep of his later films, but 1954's "Rear Window" is arguably his most fun film to watch. An entire Greenwich Village apartment complex and courtyard was built inside a Paramount studio building to create Hitchcock's unforgiving microcosm of lonely souls that stretches the ethical envelope of voyeurism. James Stewart plays L.B. "Jeff" Jefferies, an adventure photographer, wheelchair-bound with a week left in his cast for a broken leg. He is itching for some excitement and not even the devoted attention of an impossibly beautiful Grace Kelly as Lisa, a Park Avenue fashion model is enough for him. Stuck in his apartment all day, he sees the comings and goings of his neighbors, all strangers to him, and pieces together their lives and gives them pseudonyms like "Miss Torso" and "Miss Lonelyhearts". But his attention focuses on a suspicious, white-haired man named Thorwald. Jeff becomes increasingly intrigued by his neighbor's odd behavior and the sudden disappearance of his nagging, bedridden wife. Jeff suspects a murder plot, which seems far-fetched at first, but becomes gradually more evident as his obsession infects Lisa, his masseuse Stella and his detective buddy Tom.

Hitchcock was indeed the master of suspense, but the movie is suffused with an unexpectedly light sense of humor that touches rather candidly on sex and relationships thanks to John Michael Hayes' sharp script. Lisa's entanglement with Thorwald is played out well, especially as Jeff looks on helplessly from his apartment. Stewart is wonderfully sly throughout, giving hints of the inner torment he displays later in "Vertigo" but still likable even as he tries to reject his glamorous, sheltered girlfriend. Kelly seems merely decorative at first, but she sharpens as her character gains a fearless sense of intrigue that Jeff finds alluring. Thelma Ritter plays a smarter and warmer variation of her typical wisecracker as Stella, while Wendell Corey is his usual nondescript stalwart self as Tom. Raymond Burr, pre-Perry Mason, shows up as Thorwald and lends interesting ambiguity to his menacing character. Robert Burks' probing camera-work makes the perfect complement to Hitchcock's trademark film-making style, and special mention needs to be given to Robert A. Harris's splendid 1998 work in restoring the film's original splendor, even the slow-motion first kiss between Stewart and Kelly. The DVD has a couple of nice extras, an hour-long documentary that focuses on the ethics behind the story and the restoration effort, and a brief interview with screenwriter Hayes. One of Hitchcock's best in an impressive canon of work.
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2/10
Tepid stuff indeed.
jimkis-118 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I'm glad to see I'm not the only person who thought this movie was a stinker. How Hitchcock maintained his title of "master of suspense" after making this is beyond my comprehension. There is NO suspense in the movie. Jeffries suspects his neighbor is a killer, and, golly-gee-willikers, his neighbor IS a killer. Wow, what a twist. I haven't been so underwhelmed since I saw "The Burbs" (which is a far better movie and much more entertaining), and "Disturbia" at least delivers some true action.

"Rear Window" is so tepid you wonder if audiences of 1954 did not have a pulse. If they found this suspenseful, they must have been hypnotized.

Aside from the boring, uneventful plot, there are other serious issues with this movie. Stewart's relationship with Grace Kelly is totally unbelievable. He is 20 years older than she is. He should be flirting with someone his own age – namely Thelma Ritter who was about the same age as he. But Hollywood – even today – is always pairing old dudes with young women, as if that happens every day in real life. (Grace seems to have made a career of slobbering on old men – Gary Cooper, Bing Crosby, etc. What did people see in her anyhow?)

If Stewart really is a rough-and-tumble photojournalist, you'd think he'd have a better physique. His nude chest is embarrassing to look at – the only thing more embarrassing is when he locks lips with Grace Kelly.

One also wonders if Stewart's character was an idiot. He can't occupy himself any other way than spying on his neighbors? He doesn't know how to read? He doesn't have a TV? He can't listen to the radio? He IS in a wheelchair; I thought the reason for a wheelchair was so the person could be mobile; he is not bedridden.

This movie might have had some success if it had been shot in black-and-white. Then there could have been a "noir" thing going. But there is so much talk, talk, and more talk that I doubt even that could save it.

Critics have also made a big deal of the "voyeurism" theme of this film, as if that is truly shocking somehow. Again, maybe that was a big deal in 1954, but in our day and age it is just yet another tired example of motion picture psychobabble.

I admire Jimmy Stewart in Westerns – he was generally good in them. But every movie he made for Hitchock was embarrassing (yes, I include that turkey "Vertigo" in the group); while this one is not quite as bad as "The Man Who Knew Too Much" it comes close. I hope I never have to sit through this again as long as I live!
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6/10
Disappointed - AGAIN!
p_j_taylor200323 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Alfred Hitchcock......Oh dear, I'm going to upset a lot of people here. But he doesn't quite do it for me. So far I've sat through the 39 steps, North by northwest, Rear window and Psycho and so far only the latter has really entertained me. The premise of the film is great one....A guy laid up in bed, believes he witnesses a murder from his bedroom window, and goes about proving it. I like the idea, but Stewart's inkling and further surmises are so fat outweighed by the evidence brought to his bedside, that he'd be registered mentally ill if he'd continued with his allegations in real life...He is of course proved right! It reminds me a lot of 12 angry men, of which I have the exact same criticism. WHERE'S YOUR GODDAM EVIDENCE!!!!

So what is my problem with Hithcock? Well I guess I'm of an age where thrillers have been made as being a lot more gritty...see Se7en, French connection and I suppose I'm basing my reaction to any other thriller upon what I've been brought up with. To me, there is a whole heap of plot-holes and lack of realism, that I just feel the audience of the day must have been very naive. But that isn't the case as films such as 'M' and Casablanca to name but two have proved.

OK, so I understand that a film doesn't have to be realistic to be entertaining....Was the Wizard of Oz realistic...I don't think so, and to be fair I did find this film relatively entertaining, but I kept thinking it was supposed to be a thriller and those annoyances kept annoying me!!!!

Maybe, one day I will get it...Maybe one day I'll be watching this again and saying to my grandkids how great a film it is.....But I think it'll more likely be se7en or 'M'! May your thunder begin!
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4/10
A true classic. This film is... (yawn) ...sorry, what was I talking about?
jeida5 December 2000
This movie was a very influential piece by a very influential man. They tell me this flick changed the way some things were done in the movie business. I am told by others that this one is one of the truly best of Hitchcock's, well worth checking out. I, nevertheless walked into this movie with an open mind. A mind that quickly got bored.

I did like the caught-up-in-the-mystery feeling that flashed through a few scenes. I did like the famous drawl of James Stewart, and his character's wit throughout. And I am now interested in reading some of Cornel Woolrich's short stories, from which this screenplay was created. But still, I was bored.

Leaving behind the "importance" of this movie and only commenting on how it affected me, I only give it a four out of ten. On my personal rating scale that's counted as "not great, not horrible, don't bother." See it if you must. It is, after all, one of the talked about films in certain circles. If you have not seen it and end up in one of those circles, rest assured that the person extolling it's genius is most likely paraphrasing a magazine article he or she read last night and is not too sure what they are supposed to think about this one.
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8/10
An Open And Trusting World?
ccthemovieman-19 December 2005
As far as I know, this is a huge favorite with older folks. Kids of today would be bored to death with this famous Alfred Hitchcock film.

I went on a bit of a roller-coaster ride myself regarding how I viewed this movie. When I first saw it on the big screen as a kid, I was fascinated and almost terrified at the end. Years later, watching it twice within five years on VHS, I found it boring with Grace Kelly's dialog annoyingly corny and dated. Recently I viewed it again - a fourth try - and absolutely loved it. Next to Psycho, it's now my favorite Hitchcock film.

Yeah, it's still dated quite a bit, and, in future viewings, I might fast-forward through a couple of talky parts with Kelly or Thelma Ritter. I would prefer to stick with the focus of the story, namely Stewart's voyeurism and suspicions of what is going on in Raymond Burr's apartment. That storyline is entertaining and builds tremendous suspense. Stewart is usually fun to listen to, anyway. Kelly is there for looks.

Speaking of dated, can you imagine all the people in the apartments keeping their blinds open all the time, and Stewart keeping his door unlocked all the time as well, and people entering without bothering to knock first? True, it was more trusting and safer world back then, but it couldn't have been THAT transparent and trusting. Give me a break!

Yet, credibility aside, it's so involving and fun to watch that who cares if doesn't make a lot of sense?
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