Rear Window

1954 American suspense film directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Rear Window is a 1954 American mystery thriller movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The movie was based on a story, It Had To Be Murder, by Cornell Woolrich and turned into a movie script by John Michael Hayes.[4] It stars James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter and Raymond Burr.[5]The movie was nominated for four Academy Awards.[6] Rear Window is considered one of Alfred Hitchcock's best movies and one of the greatest movies of all time.

Rear Window
Rear Window film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAlfred Hitchcock
Screenplay byJohn Michael Hayes
Based on"It Had to Be Murder"
by Cornell Woolrich
Produced byAlfred Hitchcock
CinematographyRobert Burks
Edited byGeorge Tomasini
Music byFranz Waxman
Patron Inc.
Distributed byParamount Pictures[N 1]
Release date
  • September 1, 1954 (1954-09-01) (US)
Running time
112 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1 million
Box office$37 million[3]


The movie tells the story of a photographer L. B. "Jeff" Jefferies (played by James Stewart) who has a broken leg. He spends his days sitting in his Greenwich Village apartment watching his neighbors through their open windows. There is a ballet dancer, a pianist and songwriter, a couple with a dog who digs the flowers up, a newly married couple, 'Miss Lonelyhearts', and a jewelry seller Lars Thorwald with his bed-ridden wife. Lisa Fremont (played by Grace Kelly) is Jeff's girlfriend and visits several times. A nurse Stella (played by Thelma Ritter) also takes care of Jeff.

One night Jeff hears and sees some unusual things. Jeff hears a woman scream, "Don't!" and glass breaking. He sees Thorwald leave the house several times at night with a suitcase. The next day Thorwald's wife is gone, and Jeff sees him cleaning a knife and saw. There is a large trunk. Jeff thinks there has been a murder and tells Lisa and Stell. Jeff calls Tom Doyle of the New York Police to investigate. Doyle finds nothing. Witnesses say Thorwald's wife had left.

The dog dies and the owner shouts at everyone. Everyone listens except Thorwald. Jeff thinks Thorwald killed the dog and that something was buried in the ground. Jeff calls Thorwald to get him out of the house. He does this so Lisa and Terra can search the ground. They find nothing. Lisa surprisingly enters Thorwald's apartment. Jeff and Terra see Miss Lonelyhearts try to kill herself, but the piano music stops her. Distracted, Jeff and Terra do not notice Thorwald coming. Thorwald goes to Lisa. Jeff calls the police and says there is an assault. The police arrive and arrest Lisa. She shows her finger to Jeff that she has the wedding ring of Thorwald's wife. Thorwald sees the communication and sees Jeff.

Thorwald calls Jeff and enters his apartment. Jeff uses flashbulbs to slow down Thorwald by blinding him. Thorwald throws Jeff off the window. Jeff calls for help, and the police come. Jeff falls, but officers catch him. Thorwald confesses murdering his wife. A few days later Jeff has casts on both legs. The neighbors of Greenwich Village are happy again.



Alfred Hitchcock makes a cameo appearance in the apartment of the pianist.


A theme in Rear Window is loneliness and isolation. All the residents are separated from each other. They are like prisoners in their own apartments. Jeff cannot leave the apartment with his injury. The entire film is also limited to the space of the courtyard. The character Miss Lonelyhearts can represent the isolation of the neighbors. Jeff is detached from the neighbors as he watches them, and they do not know he is watching them. Jeff is like a photographer, taking mental pictures of his neighbors. The dog owner says that none of the people know the meaning of a neighbor and that they do not care[7].

Another major theme is voyeurism[8]. This is when someone sexually or intimately watches someone else. In the film, Jeff is spying on his neighbors. This act is morally questionable, and the audience participates in it. The camera follows Jeff's eyes. It switches back to facing Jeff. The camera allows the viewers to join Jeff in his actions. The audience feels guilty. Lisa and Stella question Jeff's actions at first, but they join him later. Lisa questions if it is alright to spy on a man with binoculars. The idea of spying can relate to surveillance in the state. During the time, people feared that the government would watch them the whole time. This fear was due to McCarthyism[9]. In the film, a helicopter comes close above the village. It is like the helicopter is spying on the village. There is almost no difference between private and public in the film.

Gender roles are important in the film. It is after World War II and women were changing roles in society. Male characters are also no longer heroes. For instance, Thorwald murders his wife. Jeff is injured, his camera is destroyed, and he cannot walk. Detective Doyle cannot find evidence. Lisa and Terra are the only ones who can investigate. Gender roles connect to marriage. In the film, Jeff talks about marriage on the phone. He overanalyzes Lisa and is not ready to marry her. In the film, Hitchcock switches the roles of men and women[10].


The entire movie was shot at Paramount Studios. There was a complete set of Greenwich Village. It was one of the largest sets at Paramount. The set had a special drainage system and lighting for different parts of the day[11].

Natural sounds were used that would get louder or softer with distance. There are several songs including "To See You Is to Love You" by Bing Crosby, songs by Nat King Cole ("Mona Lisa", 1950) and Dean Martin ("That's Amore", 1952), Richard Rodgers' song "Lover" (1932), and "M'appari tutt'amor" from Friedrich von Flotow's opera Martha (1844), and part of Leonard Bernstein's music for the ballet Fancy Free (1944).

Edith Head was the costume designer for the movie. Frank Waxman composed the score including the Piano song "Lisa". The film had mainly diegetic sounds. These are sounds that the characters in the film hear[12].


The movie had very positive reviews. They praised the film as an intense, suspenseful, and exciting thriller[13][14][15]. Critics considered the film to be a masterpiece of suspense that drew in viewers[16]. They noted that the film says a lot about human nature and the desire to intimately watch other people[15]. The technical and artistic skills were also praised. The film has a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes[17]. On Metacritic, the film has a rare 10/10 with "universal acclaim."[18] The film was ranked number 5 on the Top 10 films of the Year on Cahiers du Cinéma[19].

The film was nominated for four Academy Awards Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography - Color and Best Sound - Recording.

Rear Window was chosen to be part of the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1997. In the British Film Institute's Sight & Sound, the movie was ranked the 53rd greatest film[20]. In Time Out magazine the film ranked 21st and 26th greatest film of all time in 1998 and 2022[21]. The film made several American Film Institute lists. They include number 42 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies, number 14 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills, number 48 in AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) and number three in AFI's 10 Top 10 (Mysteries)[22][23].


  1. After the film's release, Paramount transferred the distribution rights to Hitchcock's estate, where they were acquired by Universal Pictures in 1983.[1][2]


  1. McGilligan, Patrick (2003). Alfred Hitchcock: A Life in Darkness and Light. Wiley. p. 653.
  2. Rossen, Jake (February 5, 2016). "When Hitchcock Banned Audiences from Seeing His Movies". Mental Floss. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  3. "Rear Window (1954)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  4. "Rear Window (1954)". IMDB. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  5. "Rear Window (1954) - Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  6. "Rear Window (1954) - Awards". IMDB. Retrieved 7 September 2009.
  7. Fawell, J. (2004). Hitchcock's Rear Window: The Well-Made Film. United States: Southern Illinois University Press, p. 12-14, 48, 85, 116-122.
  8. Sharff, S. (1997). The art of looking in Hitchcock's Rear window. New York: Limelight Editions.
  9. A Hitchcock Reader. (2009). United Kingdom: Wiley, p. 208.
  10. Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. (2000). United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, p. 68, 76.
  11. Archive, View Author; Author, Email the; Twitter, Follow on; feed, Get author RSS (2014-08-07). "Inside the real Greenwich Village apartment that inspired 'Rear Window'". New York Post. Retrieved 2022-07-01. {{cite web}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  12. "Rear Window Ethics: Remembering and Restoring a Hitchcock Classic". DVD Documentary, 1982.
  13. Harrison's Reports, Inc; Harrison's Reports, Inc (1954). Harrison's Reports (1954). Media History Digital Library. New York, Harrison's Reports, Inc.
  14. Variety (1954). Variety (July 1954). Media History Digital Library. New York, NY: Variety Publishing Company.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Crowther, Bosley (1954-08-05). "A 'Rear Window' View Seen at the Rivoli". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-06-30.
  16. Ebert, Roger. "Rear Window movie review & film summary (1954) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 2022-06-30. {{cite web}}: External link in |website= (help)
  17. Rear Window, retrieved 2022-06-30
  18. Rear Window, retrieved 2022-06-30
  19. Johnson, Eric C. "Cahiers du Cinema: Top Ten Lists 1951-2009". Archived from the original on March 27, 2012. Retrieved June 30, 2022.
  20. "Critics' top 100 | BFI". Retrieved 2022-06-30.
  21. "The 100 best thrillers ever made". Time Out Worldwide. Retrieved 2022-06-30.
  22. "AFI's 100 YEARS…100 MOVIES". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2022-06-30.
  23. "AFI's 10 TOP 10". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2022-06-30.

Other websitesEdit