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Rear Window
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Product Description

Like the Greenwich Village courtyard view from its titular portal, Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rear Window is both confined and multileveled: both its story and visual perspective are dictated by its protagonist's imprisonment in his apartment, convalescing in a wheelchair, from which both he and the audience observe the lives of his neighbors. Cheerful voyeurism, as well as the behavior glimpsed among the various tenants, affords a droll comic atmosphere that gradually darkens when he sees clues to what may be a murder.

Photographer L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries (James Stewart) is, in fact, a voyeur by trade, a professional photographer sidelined by an accident while on assignment. His immersion in the human drama (and comedy) visible from his window is a by-product of boredom, underlined by the disapproval of his girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly), and a wisecracking visiting nurse (Thelma Ritter). Yet when the invalid wife of Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) disappears, Jeff enlists the two women to help him to determine whether she's really left town, as Thorwald insists, or been murdered.

Hitchcock scholar Donald Spoto convincingly argues that the crime at the center of this mystery is the MacGuffin--a mere pretext--in a film that's more interested in the implications of Jeff's sentinel perspective. We actually learn more about the lives of the other neighbors (given generic names by Jeff, even as he's drawn into their lives) he, and we, watch undetected than we do the putative murderer and his victim. Jeff's evident fear of intimacy and commitment with the elegant, adoring Lisa provides the other vital thread to the script, one woven not only into the couple's own relationship, but reflected and even commented upon through the various neighbors' lives.

At minimum, Hitchcock's skill at making us accomplices to Jeff's spying, coupled with an ingenious escalation of suspense as the teasingly vague evidence coalesces into ominous proof, deliver a superb thriller spiked with droll humor, right up to its nail-biting, nightmarish climax. At deeper levels, however, Rear Window plumbs issues of moral responsibility and emotional honesty, while offering further proof (were any needed) of the director's brilliance as a visual storyteller. --Sam Sutherland

Customer Reviews:

  • Showing its age, but it is still Stewart, Kelly and Hitch...
    This suspense yarn is quieter than many of Hitchcock's efforts, and the New York apartment life it depicts, along with how one recovers from a broken leg, operates a life as a free-lance photographer, and courts a fashion model girlfriend, are all quite changed from 50 years ago. If you must have the same tale updated, try the Christopher Reeve version from about ten years has charms of its own, but it isn't Hitchcock, and it does lack Jimmy and Grace (who is hot as a pistol despite keeping her clothes on.) In Hitchcock's version, the heroes are at least innocent, if not naive, and the bad guy is a killer, but not a psychopathic mass murderer who kills strangers for no reason. Worth seeing for the stars' performances in roles that give them little to do physically, and much to convey psychologically....more info
  • Gray-Hair Really DID Off his Wife. That's it. Whoopee.
    The ending is total bull. The dude with the gray hair really did murder his wife, that's all. Nothing tricky, mysterious, or "surprise" about it. Oh, and ALL of the characters in the apartment building have sweet, happy endings that miraculously coincide with the gray-haired dude's arrest. Oh puke. Jimmy Stewrat plays an obsessive loser in a wheelchair who treats the women in the movie with little or no respect. Must be he's good-looking, cuse he can't act his way out of a damp paper sack. And that ending, oh man. The author didn't even offer any explainations to smooth out the glaring inconsistencies the ending created. Just, gray-hair did it. That's all. He offed his wife. For some reason. What reason? She nagged him, apparently that's grounds for murder in this movie. I suppose, no other motive is EVER offered. She nagged him, he chopped her up or something. WTF. Hopefully, this review will save some of you the trouble. Monumental letdown after what seemed to be a good movie about a delusional lunatic who preferred spying on his neighbors to spending some nice special time with his loving hot girlfriend. ...more info
  • Hitchcock Perfection
    I think that this is one of Hitchcock's most popular and entertaining films. I truly adore Jimmy Stewart, and his work with Hitchcock is just magical (Rope, Vertigo, and the Man Who Knew Too Much). Grace Kelly IS the Hitchcock blonde. Their dysfunctional relationship is believable and well acted. Thelma Ritter stands out, even among these two, to be a transcendent comic character.

    The story itself is still so intriguing: a voyeur witnesses a crime, but has trouble convincing others because he is prying on his unsuspecting neighbors. I think reality t.v. proves just how much interest we all have in the lives of others. The timeless storyline is so well acted and cleverly presented; it is difficult NOT to like this film.

    The DVD is quality, but it is obvious that the extensive reconstruction work used on Vertigo is not present here. All the extras make it a must have. For Hitchcock fans it is a must. So indulge your voyeuristic curiosities ... Highly recommended....more info
  • Small Town Life in New York
    This 1954 film is taken from a short story by Cornell Woolrich. The opening shows apartment houses in Greenwich Village and the people who live there. It is 90F and people are sweating it out. [Crime goes up with the temperature.] L. B. Jeffries is a graying photographer laid up with a broken leg. His apartment overlooks the windows of other apartments, the adults there and in the courtyard. A woman comes over to give him a massage. His girl friend is from Park Avenue. The lighting in the apartments allows viewing into the rooms. Lisa Carol Fremont is quite well-dressed and brings along a fancy take-out meal. Lisa wants to domesticate LBJ, to get him to settle down and quite foreign travel. But LBJ loves his career as a news photographer (can he look into his future?). Lisa is an upper-class lady who is happy in her niche.

    At night LBJ sees a man from across the courtyard making many trips at night carrying a suitcase. He views the apartment with binoculars, then with a long-lens SLR camera. At time you hear children, but see none. LBJ is more interested in the man across the courtyard than in luscious Lisa, and this upsets Lisa. What happened to Thorwald's wife? [Decomposition would be rapid in the 90F heat.] LBJ seems cranky from being stuck in his room for the past 7 weeks. Lisa says Mrs. Thorwald would not have left her favorite purse and jewelry behind. Lt. Tom Doyle warns against imagining things, he checked out the shipped trunk. [No search warrant needed?] The death of a pet dog is ominous. Only one person didn't come out to look!

    The amateurs continue to snoop into Thorwald's life. They wonder if something was buried in the back yard. Lisa enters Thorwald's apartment, is found, but the police take her away. LBJ answers the phone without saying "hello" and talks too much. There is a suspenseful series of heavy footsteps (believable?), then Thorwald enters the room. Can flashbulbs stop a murderer? The police arrive in time.

    The temperature drops to 70F. We see what happened to the others across the courtyard. The success of this film tells much about popular taste in those times. It is basically a short story that is padded out to make a long story. I would not rate it among the top Hitchcock films. "The Man Who Knew Too Much" and "North by Northwest" were better remakes of earlier films. Such snooping about neighbors is a feature of small-town life, unlike the anonymity of a big city. But some could call this concerns of small-town life friendliness or caring. Before radio or TV.
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  • Grace fan
    Another great classic! Grace has such style and class. Jimmy Stewart is fantastic. Great rolls for both of them and great chemistry!...more info
  • A perfect example of the Genius of Hitchcock
    L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart) is a dashing photographer who usually spends his time out in the field getting the most exciting and difficult shots. Unfortunately, while he got a fantastic photo of a crashing race car, he also got a busted leg and is laid up in his second floor apartment in a cast. For seven weeks (and one more to go) he's had nothing to do but watch the neighbors whose apartment windows all surround the same courtyard. But very late one night he hears a scream and notices one neighbor (a salesman) making repeated trips out into the rain with a large samples case and his nagging wife has disappeared. Jeffries becomes convinced the man killed her.

    The entire movie is shown from the point of view from Jeffries' apartment, and illustrates perfectly Hitchcock's genius. He tells the story by what he shows with the camera (pay attention to the very clever opening sequence for a good example), by what Jeffries sees and does, and what you see of the neighbors. Has a murder really been committed? Hitchcock interjects subtle humor throughout, from Jeffries and the various neighbors, such as "Miss Lonelyheart" or "The Newlyweds." And when Hitchcock decides to turn on the suspence, he turns it on all the way. One part I found slightly unbelievable is Jeffries' resistance to his beautiful girlfriend (Grace Kelly) who offers repeated hints about marriage. C'mon, Grace Kelly?!? What's he waiting for?

    But it's all part of Hitchcock's larger theme here, and this movie was lots of fun to watch noting how clever Hitchcock is and looking for his cameo appearance (and I'm not really much of a film buff). There is also an entertaining documentary included with the "extras" that talks about the challenges, such as filming in such a small space. An excellent movie from a director on a level with few others....more info
  • Rear Window
    One of Hitch,s best movies, look hard to see Hitch in this film, a great performance of Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, hit all the emotional buttons, hummor, romance, suspence, one you can watch over with Thelma Ritter adding a brillant performance as Stewarts nurse....more info
  • Excellent product
    The colors in this movie are amazing! Bright colors & sharp outlines. They must have renewed the copy they used to make this DVD....more info
    This is my second-favorite Jimmy Stewart movie ( VERTIGO being my favorite of both Stewart's, and Hitch's ). I have always been amazed by the intricacy of the staging, and set design in this beautifully, and brilliantly orchestrated psychological thriller, that juggles droll humor, social commentary, and mounting suspense with such aplomb, and twisted, though, surgeon-like precision. REAR WINDOW is an exquisite film, and should be in any serious collection....more info
  • Can something be an overrated classic?
    Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954)

    Few directors did it as well, and as consistently, as Alfred Hitchcock. And while I often wonder what it is the critics are thinking when they rank Hitchcock's films (Vertigo is better than North by Northwest? On what planet?), I have to admit that they've mostly got it right with Rear Window, which is a masterpiece of casting. It's a masterpiece of direction, too, but then it's a Hitchcock movie. You expect that.

    John Michael Hayes' adaptation of a story by the now mostly-obscure Cornell Woolrich (and his current obscurity is more of a crime than anything he ever wrote about) is brought to life by the casting of Jimmy Stewart as L. B. Jeffries, the film's main character. How much thought went into that choice? Actually, probably not much, given that in hindsight it makes such perfect sense. You're taking an actor who's well-known for being a good old-fashioned down-homey kind of guy and playing on that typecasting. You even give him a down-homey kind of hobby; he's bored, so he grabs his binoculars and starts spying on his neighbors. That's the kind of thing you expect eighty-year-old ladies to do. Where's the harm? I'm not sure any other actor could have brought that kind of baggage to the table but Jimmy Stewart. I mean, that's inspired casting, that is. And at heart, all the stupidity that follows is Jimmy Stewart trying to do the right thing. Doesn't he always?

    In fact, it's hard to think of Rear Window as noir, really. It's all just good, clean fun, with death and mayhem. (And really, how many of Jimmy Stewart's movies would have been spiced up by a little death and mayhem?) It's got a fun script, a fine leading actress in Grace Kelly (though honestly one wonders why someone as all-fired hot as Grace Kelly would waste her time on Jimmy Stewart when he's obviously trying to get rid of her), and some fabulous minor characters to inject much-needed humor to lighten things up now and again. There's none of the sense of bleakness that you get from a movie like Ace in the Hole or Sunset Blvd. here. And because of that, given the time in which it was made, it seems a bit out of place. I mean, even Douglas Sirk managed a pretty darned good piece of noir when he turned his mind to it (as did Hitch, actually; he practically invented the genre, where film was concerned, with his original version of The 39 Steps in 1935, and revitalized it briefly over a quarter century later with North by Northwest).

    Still, for all that, it is a fine piece of moviemaking, to be sure, and definitely stands up to repeated viewing; I think the time I'm basing this review on was my fifth. I like it a bunch. I still don't think it's North by Northwest or Psycho, or even Lifeboat (which I seem to like a whole lot more than most people), but it's one of Hitch's, say, top twenty movies. *** ?

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  • Not So Thrilling
    Rear Window is the story of a photographer with a broken leg (Jimmy Stewart). He spends his time in his wheelchair confined to his room with little to do but spy on the neighbors. There is a ballerina star, a lonely middle-aged woman, and a married couple. He becomes very interested in the married couple when one day the invalid wife disappears and the husband begins acting strangely. The photographer includes his girlfriend (Grace Kelly), his nurse (Thelma Ritter), and a detective friend in his theory that the man murdered his wife.

    When one thinks of Hitchcock, thoughts of crimes and plot twists come to mind. This film seems to be much more straightforward. It moves very slowly and none of the big events in the film seem all that major to the audience because most of them happen outside Stewart's apartment building. The most exciting part of the film is of course the ending, but even it is too little too late. If you have high expectations for this film as a constant thrill ride, see another film. You will certainly be disappointed....more info
  • Fun and Entertaining Except For the DVD!
    This movie is a great one to encapsulate what makes Hitchcock films great. His brand of storytelling is unique and for me very enjoyable. He always shows us the story from the subjective viewpoint of the actor and in this case, Jimmy Stewart, as the temporarily invalid photographer who out of boredom decides to take an interest in his neighbour's activities. In effect, he is watching many television screens aka windows outside his apartment that happen to be screening real-life soap operas.

    I disagree that what he does amounts to voyeurism because he doesn't really watch continuously just to get gratuitous pleasure out of it but he really appears to be concerned about his neighbour's well-being. He tries to prevent the lonely one from committing suicide in addition to the main part of the story about his concern for the invalid woman who was killed by her husband. I thought the beautiful irony was that while everyone was critical of Stewart's character spying or peeping at his neighbours and yet his concern for them and his willingness to even put his life on the line to help them contrasts with that of the other neighbours who just didn't give a damn and who are supposed to be doing the right thing. The scene with the dead dog perfectly illustrates this as at one apartment, the party simply resumes as if nothing happened after the distraught owner's emotional outburst. I just loved the dramatic irony of how Stewart's character was really the good neighbour despite his peeping while the others were really bad neighbours minding their own business just like in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

    The screenplay was very well written and the witty and comical dialogue especially between Stewart's character and the masseuse was very amusing indeed. The acting wasn't brilliant but was good enough and I enjoyed the theme about the differences between man and woman and how their motivations are driven by different things and yet both are really trying to arrive at the same thing: happiness in a life together. The final scene with Grace Kelly and the magazine was especially telling and amusing for me.

    The special features are quite good and I especially like the documentary "Rear Window Ethics: Remembering and Restoring a Hitchcock Classic." The only problem is with the dvd which sound quality wise isn't great and the picture quality despite being restored is quite poor with many imperfections on too many frames. This suggests to me that the original master must be very poorly preserved if this is the best that they could do. Here's hoping that with the advent of Blu-ray they will take the opportunity to have another try at improving both the picture and sound quality. For the latter a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround restored sound option would be much appreciated.

    Not one of Hitchcock's absolute best but still a very good film; recommended but you may want to wait for a better restored version to be made available and to give this dvd version a miss....more info
  • Rear Window
    When I was a child, I got so sick of hearing how brilliant Alfred Hitchcock was. To the extent that I never watched any of his movies, if you can believe it. Well, this one's pretty damn cool. I really don't want to overanalyze all the techniques that our beloved director employed so well, lest I spoil the fun. The plot centers around a question. Did Raymond Burr kill his wife and chop her up with saw and knife? That's the impression injured Jimmy Stewart got from peeping through the windows. We had to throw in some subplots and have some fun as well, because of the length, and it's excellent in doing that. Almost everybody sends up himself or herself a little bit, and we have some laughs in addition to trademark suspense, and it's a great film.
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  • Hitchcock's Best
    Hitchcock's masterwork. Why? It's so homey, so hum-drum . . . so believable, any of us could be its hero. Its characters are diverse, compelling--and above all, entertaining. Dialogue's snappy. Plot line grows from humorous diversion to edge-of-your-seat suspenseful. This film is what one 21st century critic described as "awesome" -- and it is! No excess lines, scenes or diversions in this one; it's cut as well as "Annie Hall." Deserves a slot in anyone's library of favorite films of all time. WHY CAN'T PEOPLE MAKE FILMS LIKE THIS ANYMORE???...more info
  • Hitchcock's Finest
    I'm glad to see that overall, this film got 5 stars seeing that I am a huge Hitchcock buff and have seen all but a handful of his movies. But reading some of the other comments, it just goes to show that all movies are rated to our own opinions. My only disagreement(at least the one I care to share) is that this movie is not based on voyeurism in a good light necissarily, although I think we all have it in us to some extent. Speaking of propaganda-I really don't think ALL OF THE SPY CAMERAS EVERYWHERE are because of this movie. ...more info
  • To plagarize a word - Classic!
    I don't usually give classics high marks because movies to me are visual more than cerebral entertainment, and technology, production and might I even say, directing, is just so much better all the time.

    However, Rear Window is one of those movies which transcends time, maybe because it only takes place in one setting there isn't much technology could do to improve it. And perhaps the grainy quality of the movie actually enhances the creepy atmosphere. The movie set itself is masterful, especially considering it was done in 1954. And gosh, Grace Kelly, they just don't make movie stars like that anymore.

    So, what's good about it? It puts you in the position of Jefferies, who is basically helpless. We are voyeurs together with him, however, a horrendous event occurs which eventually involves him, and being helpless, he cannot escape...... That's it in a nutshell, without telling you the story, which if you want to know you can read the other reviews. I don't think any of Hitchcock's other movies have stood the test of time as well as this one because there pretty much isn't anything you could do to improve it. As I said, the poorer quality of 1954 production values only adds to this movie - making this movie any better would only make it worse.

    1) When Jefferies changes his lens, he just puts it camera side down on a table. No pro worth his salt would ever do that, or use a telephoto over binoculars for that matter.
    2) An in home nurse who also prepares a sandwich?! Bring me back to 1954! OK, her sandwich better be better than her 1 minute massage.
    3) And this is the worst goof of all. Unbelievable. There isn't anything wrong with Jefferies' leg, it's his brain which is the problem. How can any sane man reject a Grace Kelly who's throwing herself at him, c'mon, get real! That's just real bad script. If Rosanne Barr was playing Lisa Fremont, then yeah, I'd believe it, yeah then I'd try to get to SE Asia ASAP lobster dinners notwithstanding. (Or maybe he just doesn't want to leave that apartment and Ms. Torso.)

    Enjoy....more info
  • My favorite Stewart/Hitchcock film!
    Of the four films that Jimmy Stewart and Alfred Hitchcock made together, "Rear Window" is my favorite. I think after "Jaws" this movie is the GREATEST summertime movie ever made! What I mean by this is, it is OBVIOUS that this story takes place during the summer months.

    Jimmy Stewart (one of the all-time GREATEST actors) gives his usual PERFECT performance. Grace Kelly is as talented as she is BEAUTIFUL as Lisa his girlfriend. Raymond Burr also makes a GREAT villain. (pre-Perry Mason) As EVERYBODY should know by now, Alfred Hitchcock directed more CLASSICS than any director in the history of Hollywood.

    So in other words, how can you go wrong by watching one of his bona fide CLASSICS? Do yourself a favor and BUY this ALL-TIME GREAT!...more info