Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Rear Window (1954)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Rear Window (1954)

In Alfred Hitchcock's superb thriller about a mostly confined incapacitated photographer with a broken leg in his apartment, but his rear window view into other apartments across the courtyard kept him preoccupied - it was an intriguing, brilliant, macabre visual study of obsessive human curiosity and voyeurism:

  • the opening voyeuristic sequence of efficient visual story-telling in which the camera tracked out through the framed windows of a Greenwich Village apartment, and introduced the setting and entire complex - a lower courtyard and garden, surrounding Lower East Side apartment structures; followed by a long panning camera movement to view the lives of some of the apartment neighbors, including an older couple sleeping on an outside fire escape to avoid the heat, a blonde exerciser, and a tour of the subject in the camera's apartment - to identify a man immobilized in a wheelchair with his leg in a cast - photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jefferies (James Stewart)
  • the viewpoint of Jeff's sharp-tongued, visiting nurse-therapist Stella (Thelma Ritter) who disapproved of his spying on neighbors and denounced the practice: "Oh dear, we've become a race of Peeping Toms. What people oughta do is get outside their own house and look in for a change. Yes, sir. How's that for a bit of home-spun philosophy?"
  • the confined Jeff's "peeping tom" static camera point-of-view from his Greenwich Village apartment's rear window, while stuck in his wheelchair, and becoming initially suspicious of the activities of across-the-courtyard neighbor Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr)
  • the scene of high-fashion model and girlfriend Lisa Carol Fremont (Grace Kelly) glamorously appearing in front of the stationary individual Jeff; she was a stylish vision of beauty - elegant, lovely, affluent, and blonde; she bent over, and then lovingly kissed him, roused and awakened him from his sleep; she suggestively whispered a number of questions to him: " Lisa: "How's your leg?" Jeff: "It hurts a little." Lisa: "And your stomach?" Jeff: "Empty as a football." (She kissed him again) Lisa: "And your love life?" Jeff: "Not too active." Lisa: (smiling) "Anything else bothering you?" Jeff: "Mm-hmm. Who are you?"; a s she flicked on the apartment's lights one-by-one, she told him her name, disjointedly: "Lisa - Carol - Fremont."
Glamorous Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly)
  • the discovery of the strangled dog in the courtyard, punctuated by screams from the distraught dog owner ("Which one of you did it? Which one of you killed my dog?"); the dead dog laid on the concrete in front of Thorwald's garden - maliciously killed with its neck broken; Jeff noticed that the only person who didn't emerge from inside when the dog was discovered was Thorwald, seen smoking a glowing cigarette in his darkened apartment; [later, it was theorized that the dog became "too inquisitive," so Thorwald had to dig up Mrs. Thorwald's body parts from the flower bed and move them elsewhere, and murder the snooping dog]
  • the suspenseful scene of Lisa's tense exploration and search of suspected wife-murderer Thorwald's apartment for incriminating evidence just before he returned - she was ecstatic when she found an alligator hand-bag, proof of Thorwald's guilt - he must have murdered her because, according to Lisa, no woman goes on a trip leaving behind her favorite jewelry (or handbag); Jeff nervously reacted as he watched powerlessly and helplessly from across the courtyard when she was trapped and confronted face-to-face in the apartment by Thorwald (who called the police), when she pointed to the wife's wedding ring on her finger
  • Lars noticed her signals and the wedding ring, and followed the sight-line of the signal sent by Lisa (behind her back) to Jefferies in his apartment and triangulated the view - spotting the mortal threat; he looked up and discovered that Jeff, his tormentor, was watching from the apartment window across the courtyard, looking directly into his telephoto lens; it was the first time he had noticed the voyeuristic spy in the apartment complex - it was a chilling moment in the film as he saw the threatening spectator and knew where he lived; Thorwald was alerted to the fact that he was being watched, and the tables were now turned
  • Jeff was left alone in his apartment, and he noticed that Lars' apartment was dark; when his phone rang (after an earlier call from Det. Lt. Thomas J. Doyle (Wendell Corey)), he didn't wait to hear who the caller was, assuming it was Tom; he blurted out: "Tom, I think Thorwald's left. I don't...Hello.."; the phone clicked off and disconnected - Jeff slowly realized his error - it was not Tom, his detective friend
Using Lisa to Infiltrate Into Thorwald's Apartment
Thorwald's Discovery of Jeff's Spying
  • the tension-filled finale in which Jeff was confronted by the killer in his own apartment - when Jeff heard heavy footsteps climbing the stairs outside his apartment, Jeff wheeled himself around to grab his flash equipment and a long box of flashbulbs to protect himself; then, he positioned himself in front of his rear window so that he was darkly silhouetted by it; eventually, the dark figure of Thorwald slowly opened the door and entered
  • at first, he fended him off with bright flash-bulb flashes from his camera and its exploding flash mechanism - once, twice, three times, and then a fourth time; each whitish-blue flashbulb flash was followed by a red after-glow filling the entire frame, from Thorwald's dazed perspective; but then he became a victim of attempted strangulation; Thorwald dumped Jeff out of the wheelchair and through the open window, where he dangled from the window ledge three floors above the courtyard as Thorwald tried to push him to his death; detectives grabbed Lars from behind at the last minute, but Jeff let go and fell backward to the ground below - his fall to the courtyard was partially broken by detectives; reunited, Jeff's head was cradled in Lisa's arms as she heard him congratulate her: "I'm proud of you"
Suspenseful Finale
Jeff Using Flash-Bulbs to Ward Off Attacking Thorwald in His Apartment
  • the ending shot of a pants-wearing Lisa reading an adventure tale - Beyond the High Himalayas, by William O. Douglas; after noticing that Jeff (now with two leg casts) was asleep and not watching her, she switched off her male image by putting down her material and assertively substituting her own preferred Harper's Bazaar magazine
  • the deeply ironic final shot of a window shade rolling down on the voyeuristic film audience before the ending Paramount Studios logo

Greenwich Village Apartment Courtyard

Jeff's Leg Cast

(Thelma Ritter)


Spying on Neighbor Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr)

Discovery of Strangled Dog: ("Which one of you did it? Which one of you killed my dog?")

After Jeff's Fall, Jeff told Lisa: "I'm proud of you"

Ending Sequence


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