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4.7 out of 5 stars
Rear Window [DVD] [1954]
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2003
This is the perfect thriller, driven by the voyeur in all of us. Hitchcock understood that most people are more comfortable looking at the lives of others from a distance. We can become involved and passionate about it even, just as we do with the movies, and yet have great difficulty one on one. This film subtly explores this area of our personalities while giving us one of the most entertaining films of all time.
Would you have trouble commiting to the elegant and sexy Grace Kelly? Jeff (Jimmy Stewart) does, as we get to hear about when he is laid up in a cast because of an accident while he was on an assignment. Jeff (short for Jeffries) is used to seeing the world through the illuminating lens of his camera, he is a professional photographer. Lisa's (Grace Kelley) patience and elegant charm and the always no nonsense practicality of Nurse Thelma Ritter makes for great entertainment as Jeff is bored and begins watching his neighbors across the courtyard.
Jeff becomes involved in their lives like he is watching a daily soap opera, much to the disapproval of Lisa. He takes to heart their loneliness and finds pleasure in their fine moments. But something darker begins to take shape when Jeff begins to piece together what he has seen in one apartment and fears he may be spying on a killer.
His own disbelief and Lisa's early scorn turns into an obsession that becomes evermore dangerous for all of them as Lisa begins to be Jeff's legs and believe him. But the man who may have murdered his wife may believe he has seen to much and the tension escalates to a fever pitch, putting all their lives in danger, as the voyeuristic climate changes to 'one on one.'
This is wonderful entertainment. It moves deftly from light and breezy to a more concerned tone, graduating to nail biting, grab the arm of your chair, suspense. This is a teriffic and enjoyable film and one of Hitchcock's best. Raymond Burr as the possible murderer creates terror just by a glance across the courtyard at the spying Stewart. Kelly and Ritter give this film it's footing, making the events completely believable.
But it is Jimmy Stewart who hit's this one out of the park to dead center. He gives one of his finest performances here, conveying the irritation of being in a cast and the emotional helplessness when he may not be able to escape the consequences of his own voyeurism because of it. You'll watch this one every time someone comes over once you own it. Enjoy.....
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 22 July 2007
The man's masterpiece, no doubt about it. Vertigo may be more beguiling, Shadow of a Doubt, the best screenplay he worked with, N by NW his best straight thriller, but Rear Window does all you want a tense suspense thriller to do - And delivers a piece of film perfection, without having to do very much at all except point a camera at a man pointing a camera, and follow him until the thrilling end. For such a static movie, it can leave you breathless! A little artificial looking perhaps, by today's standard, and the story really is a bit of a contrivance-What a coincidence it is this laid up man happens to be a pro-photographer, and lives almost dead opposite the villain of the piece. Okay, corny, but as the director would see it, these are just vehicles a film must use, to get somewhere, and deliver you where it wants to. He knows how to make you forget about this slight incredibility, once he can really get into the meat of the film. And this is one of his three or four movies he really manages to push it out very big and make it much, much more than a simple murder story, although this never diverts your attention from the essential matter of enjoying a good suspense thriller.
As with all his greatest films, this subliminal stuff gets into your head and sets you thinking, mostly after the movie has finished. It's all the little extraneous details, the glimpses of everyday folk living out their lives our wheelchair bound hero is forced to watch through his window, that brings this great film alive. Some of the images Hitchcock captures are just uniquely brilliant in a very voyeuristic way. There is definitely a subtext going on here, as you'd expect from this director. But on the surface it is just simple, straightforward magnificence!
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
This is a superlative film of suspense. It is a tribute to the direction of Alfred Hitchcock that one is never bored watching this film, though it entirely takes place within the confines of a claustrophobic New York Greenwich Village apartment, the windows of the neighbors across the way, and a courtyard that separates the buildings.
Professional photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart) is recovering from an accident that occurred while on assignment. Encased in a cast covering his left leg and hip, Jeff is pretty much immobilized and temporarily confined to a wheel chair. Despite regular visits by his nurse, Stella (Thelma Ritter), and his beautiful, sophisticated girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly), Jeff is chafing at his confinement. Bored stiff, he does what he does best. He peers at those around him from his window. Jeff finds the lives of his neighbors both immensely interesting and amusing. He watches them through their windows and in the courtyard, enhancing his experience with binoculars and the zoom lens of his camera. Jeff draws inferences and conclusions about them, based upon his own experiences with human behavior.
Jimmy Stewart is terrific as the housebound voyeur, drawing the viewer in with him. One finds oneself peering along with him into the lives of those around him. Grace Kelly is stunningly beautiful as Jeff's girlfriend Lisa, with whom Jeff is finding it difficult to make a commitment. It is interesting that as Jeff gets more intimately engrossed in his neighbors' affairs, his intimacy with Lisa seems to grow, drawing them closer together. Thelma Ritter is funny and sassy as the tough talking, no nonsense nurse. Raymond Burr, looking eerily as he would half a century later, is well cast as the neighbor whose wife got on his nerves. Wendell Corey is very good as the congenial, though jaded, detective.
All in all, this is a terrific film that clearly shows the mastery and deft direction of the legendary Hitchcock. With a well written script and a stellar cast, this is a film that is well worth having in one's personal collection. Bravo!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Alfred Hitchcock was in near-perfect form when he made "Rear Window," a stylish, minimalistic blend of mystery and dark comedy. This thriller explores "what you shouldn't see" skilfully, with a few funny bits thrown in. And having a cast that includes Grace Kelly and James Stewart doesn't hurt either.

Photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries (Stewart) got run over during a shoot, and is crankily waiting for his cast to come off. While he does so, he spies on his neighbors -- some sleep on balconies, some argue, some weep alone, and some ("Miss Torso") dance in spandex. To make things worse, Jeff is having intimacy problems with his wealthy girlfriend Lisa (Kelly), because he fears settling down.

But then Jeff's window-watching clues him in to something -- sickly Mrs. Thorwald vanishes, and her husband Lars (Raymond Burr) is seen acting suspiciously with a saw, rope and metal case. Jeff becomes convinced that Thorwald has murdered his wife. He manages to convince Lisa and his down-to-earth nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter), but detectives won't believe him. So without moving from the room, Jeff uses the rear window to watch Thorwald -- and find out what really happened.

Okay, peeping on your neighbors is not just creepy, it's illegal. In the case of "Rear Window," that fact doesn't really matter. Watching the fellow tenants is as much fun as the mystery itself, whether it's the newlyweds, the pair that sleep on the balcony, the weepy Ms. Lonelyheart, or the buxom dancer Miss Torso. It makes the story even more chilling when you realize that one -- or maybe more than one -- of these seemingly harmless people is a murderer.

Hitchcock -- who appears as a musician -- kept his deft touch in a movie that could have sunk like a stone. All the action takes place in one room, but he keeps it from feeling confining. Instead, the minimalistic set takes away all distractions, and makes the interplay between the characters even brighter. And much of the humor is provided by Ritter -- she's not a comic character, but her homespun wisdom is delivered with tart humor.

Jeff is likable as only James Stewart could make him -- this guy is bored, crabby and in denial about his feelings for Lisa, but he's likable despite that. Kelly does an equally solid job as the "girl who is too good for him," who also proves that in a pinch she can rise beyond her uptown-girl roots. Back when many women were relegated to side roles, Lisa gets to be an equal detective to Stewart.

"Rear Window" gives a view into one of Hitchcock's best films, a taut thriller about how, if you watch other people, you might see something dangerous. A well-deserved classic.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2014
Ok I'm not gonna go into the film itself cause other folk have and you must know it anyway right ? But mention the new blu ray release which is not really that special comprising the same extras and a lobby card postcard it is'nt really a necessary purchase if you have the first blu ray release.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 18 September 2005
Made in 1954, Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window has indeed stood the test of time. It's one of the great and grand treasures of film and it is as much of a romance as it is a brilliant exercise in suspense. Considered to be one of the all time greatest films, Rear Window really pulls you in, bringing out all our voyeuristic instincts.
Jimmy Stewart stars as Jeff Jeffreys, a magazine photographer laid up with a broken leg. Irritable and bored, he suffers through recovery stuck in a wheelchair in his Greenwich Village apartment with little to do but complain to his nurse, Stella (Thelma Ritter), avoid discussing marriage with his girlfriend, society belle Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly), and stare out the window into the apartments of his neighbors.
It is not yet 8 A.M., but the temperature is already in the 90's and across the court, and a couple sleeping on the fire escape stirs. We watch, along with Jeff, while other anonymous heat-exhausted city dwellers come to sluggishly to life.
There's Miss Lonely Hearts (Judith Evelyn) in a downstairs apartment dreaming of romance, and the vivacious and sexy Miss Torso (Georgine Darcy) upstairs shooing men away. The Composer (Ross Bagdasarian) makes beautiful music but lives the life of a frustrated artist, while a hearing-impaired sculptor (Jesslyn Fax) works day and night, and two newlyweds (Rand Harper and Havis Davenport) spend there days entwined in passionate ecstasy.
The suspense comes when Jeff grows suspicious of Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr), a jewelry salesman, who lives right across the court. Lars has been doing strange things with rope, some carving knives, and a clothes trunk. And what has happened to Lar's wife? As Jeff becomes increasingly suspicious that Lars has committed murder, he gets Lisa to act has his accomplice.
Lisa shows that, when the chips are down, she's as capable of breaking-and-entering a possible murderer's apartment, scaling a wall to do so, as she is of wearing couture gowns. Rear Window grabs the viewer in the same way Thorwald grabs the photographer's eye. Once the hook is in place, there's no way out of the intricate spiral of suspense, and the film is just as much an incisive study of human nature as it is a thriller.
One of the best attributes of the movie is the huge set, designed by Hal Pereira and built at the Paramount studio. It represents the best of studio artifice, being a unit that includes the rear of Jeff's apartment as well as his view of the garden court and buildings that enclose the court. As lighted and photographed by Robert Burks, this set is as much a character as any of the actors in the film.
But at the heart of the film are the grand performances of Stewart, who captures perfectly Jeff's mixture of fascination and abhorrence at the glimpses of life outside his window, and the beautiful Miss Kelly, who, after receiving star billing in three previous films, showed that she was entitled to it in Rear Window. After all these years, the enormous glamour of these two personalities remains fresh and attractive, and even as contemporary as ever. Mike Leonard September 05.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 15 February 2007
Rear Window achieves the accolade of being one of the most complete films ever made. The combination of sizzling on screen chemistry between James Stewart and Grace Kelly, innovative film techniques and ideas 50 years ahead of its time make this the one film, above all, that I would insist that people see.

The chemistry:- James Stewart plays Jeffries, a stick-in-the-mud photographer confined to his room because of a broken leg. Frustrated, and with too much time on his hands, he ruminates about his relationship with his girlfriend (the beautiful and effervescent Grace Kelly) and his committment phobia. As well as spying on his neighbours (more about that later!). He suffers occasional visits from his wisecracking nurse and his girlfriend, but seems to enjoy spying through his zoom lens of his camera most.

The film techniques:- Hitchcock enjoyed putting limitations on his cameramen and in Rear Window the limitation is that the camera never leaves the room. This means that when Jeffries spies on his neighbours, we get his perspective, we become voyeurs with him. It is very difficult for the viewer to distance herself from Jeffries, or the guilt, suspicion and remorse that come from his voyeuristic proclivities.

The ideas:- Hitchcock, wittingly or not, anticipated in Rear Window the advent of reality TV. Each one of the windows Jeffries spies through presents hin, and us, with a life ruthlessly exposed for public perusal. The Newlyweds, Miss Lonelyhearts, all of them in turn are subjected to our analysis. But wait for the kickback. Jeffries witnesses what he believes to be a murder, and through the course of these sad soap operas one character is watching Jeffries watching him.

The ending sees Jeffries (and by implication all of us) punished for our curiousity. He has his other leg broken. Serves you right for looking!

Its a film that bears and rewards constant viewing simply to watch one of the best Twentieth Century directors at the height of his powers.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 2004
Where can one begin to sing the praises of Rear Window? Is it the two leading performances (James Stewart & Grace Kelly)?, the wonderfully absorbing narrative? or the immensly claustrophobic cinematography?
Answer: all of the above. very rarley there appears a film which manages to encapsulate every ingrediant required to culminate into a top rate suspense thriller. Rear Window is the king of kings in suspense with a little romance and humour thrown in.
Rear Window was the second of four collaberations between Alfred Hitchcock and james Stewart and in my opnion is the best. the gratitude that Stewart shows is reflected in his portrayl of the no nonsense snapper who, despite dominatating the picture, you never tire of the sight of Stewart in his blue PJ's peering out over the courtyard at the array of characters the director treats us with.
The film centres around travelling photographer L.B. Jeffries (Jeff) played by James Stewart, who as a result of an accident, is temporarely confined to a wheel chair with a broken leg and in order to stave off immense boredom, peers nonchallantly into the windows of his Greenwich village neighbours apartments. What he sees to be innocent, slightly eccentric characters ('miss hearing-aid') there is one apartment which holds a suspicious fascination for Jeff and that is of salesman 'Lars Thorwald (played brilliantly by Raymond Burr with a frightening and both pathetic and desperate angle.)
his determination to prove that Thorwald murdered his disabled wife despite objections from his detective friend (Wendell Corey) is intertwined with an array of interesting and spectacularly original characters such as the afore mention Grace Kelly as Jeff's socialite girlfriend 'Lisa Freeemont', whose passion for Jeff is only matched by his apprehension and the doubts about the relationship and it's uncertain future. The insurance nurse with the sharpest tongue in fifties cinema played by Thelma Ritter who seems to share the directors thirst for the macabre.
All this ends in one of the most nail-biting endings Hitchcock has ever created in use of lighting and montage in his piecing together of the scene.
There seems to be numerous sub-texts which appear in the film, (the nieghbours dilemma's seem to outline the possible outcomes of Jeff's relationship with Lisa). However, put aside the ins and outs of Hitchcocks mind because you will only scratch the surface, and instead marvel at the sheer brilliant cinema at which every shot portrays from the 'jazzy' opening credits to the delightful closing offering.
Purchase, watch and enjoy again and again and again.............
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2013
For me, one the most successful of Hitchcock's productions. As with `Dial "M" for Murder', the action takes place almost exclusively from a single location, in this case the room in which professional camera man, L.B. 'Jeff' Jefferies, (James Stewart) sits with his left leg encased to the crotch in plaster. From his wheelchair he places himself at various angles to the window so as to be able to view his near neighbours across and to the side of the courtyard. This prospect - a poignant cross-section of life - soon singles out a resident opposite in the form of a well-built man Lars Thorwald (played by Raymond Burr) and his invalid wife.

From time to time, Stewart views his subjects through the telephoto lens attached to his reflex film camera (this is before the digital era, remember). He also has occasion to use an impressive pair of binoculars. And this is where Hitchcock scores over countless film makers in that he shows you a representation of what the brain interprets from the bifocal input, namely a single frame!

Stewart soon becomes concerned when the wife disappears suddenly followed by some curious activity in the apartment opposite that leads him to suspect foul play. Stewart's lady friend (Grace Kelly) is at first sceptical of Stewart's analysis as is his old buddy in the police force whom he attempts to involve in an investigation of the circumstances across the way.

The dialogue is well honed and often tinged with witticisms between the three main protagonists - Stewart, Kelly and Thelma Ritter playing Stella, the visiting nurse/masseur who is tending the invalided Stewart.

The tension builds steadily towards the confrontation between Stewart and Burr in the former's room that sees Stewart fall from his "rear window" into the courtyard below. However, his fall is broken by police and others down there, with the film ending on a humorous note as we see Stewart returned to his wheelchair this time with both legs in plaster.

Unlike most of Hitchcock's work, this film uses background audio sparingly and that, as it happens, generated from the protagonists themselves.

A synthesis of wit and tension.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 July 2013
Throughout his illustrious career master film-maker Alfred Hitchcock frequently expounded on his belief that cinema was (or should be) principally a visual means of story-telling (often decrying that, in his view, the medium was becoming too much like the theatre). This 1954 masterpiece is, of all Hitch's works, possibly the most definitive demonstration of the man's visual skill in narration, and, I would argue, it would be quite possible to watch Rear Window without any dialogue and still be able to follow the film's main plot line.

Of course, the other major (near-unique among Hitch's films) characteristic of Rear Window is the film's claustrophobic, single setting location for the film, that of the flat of James Stewart's photo-journalist, L B 'Jeff' Jefferies - indeed, the fact that such a visually rich and engaging spectacle (largely from Jefferies' viewpoint) could be coaxed out of such an apparently limited 'scope', is one of the film's foremost qualities. As a contrast, take Hitch's earlier Rope - both films use a similar single apartment setting, however Rear Window's visual narrative approach is fundamentally different from the earlier film's plot development which, despite Rope's innovative visual approach, is more dependent on its nuanced (theatre-based) script (and similar principles apply to both Dial M For Murder and Lifeboat).

Here, Hitchcock skilfully sets up an entire microcosm (or soap opera, if you like) of 1950s New York society, (merely) via Jeff's voyeuristic perusing of the seemingly mundane apartment courtyard, taking in frustrated artistic ambition, overbearing male chauvinism, post-marital passions, and festering suicidal tendencies, as well as the suspicious goings-on between Raymond Burr's hen-pecked salesman and his nagging wife. As an integral part of his amateur sleuthing, Jeff's use of the full range of his 'equipment' - telephoto lenses, binoculars and (during the film's brilliant denouement) flashbulbs - also reinforces the film's central motif around all things visual.

With such an intimate (close-up) feel, Rear Window also puts its actors under the microscope and they uniformly come up trumps. For me, Stewart has never been better as the bored, laid-up invalid, whose ambivalence towards the matrimonial intentions of Grace Kelly's luscious (`'She's too perfect') fashion guru, Lisa Fremont, is brilliantly done. In this context, John Michael Hayes cannot be over-praised for what is a superbly funny and perceptive screenplay, the writing (and characterisation) for Thelma Ritter's know-it-all and morbid nurse, Stella, being a particular highlight for me (and one in which I'm sure Hitch had a big hand). Re. Kelly, it can be difficult to judge the acting talents of such a 'perfect' feminine incarnation, but I must admit that, particularly for such an inexperienced screen actor, this is an impressively subtle and perceptive performance (placing her firmly in the same league as the likes of Tippi Hedren, Janet Leigh, Kim Novak, Eva Marie Saint, etc). Mention should also be made of Wendell Corey, whose portrayal of Jeff's ex-army buddy, now smooth-talking, but sceptical, police detective, Thomas Doyle, is nicely done.

Probably the final quality that, for me, Rear Window is notable for is its subtle (and indeed slow) build-up of the audience's sense of intrigue and then suspense. The atmosphere is (merely) broadly curious (albeit entertainingly engaging) for the first 80 minutes or so, before eventually going 'off the scale' in terms of viewer apprehension and tension during the final 30 minutes.

Everything taken together, Rear Window provides a masterclass in film-making and represents one of the most influential of all Hitchcock's films.
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