This year marks the 60th anniversary of my personal favorite Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window, which is based on the 1942 short story It Had to Be Murder by Cornell Woolrich.
L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart) is a photographer who is on the last week of having to spend all his time in his apartment because of a broken leg. But that last week of boredom becomes anything but when he begins to suspect that one of his neighbors, Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr), may have murdered his wife.
Jeffries begins to frantically put the pieces together with the help of his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and his nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter). While his police detective friend Tom Doyle (Wendell Corey) is reluctant to accept the trio’s claims of murder, Jeffries’s activities get the best of him in the climax of the film when Thorwald catches on to him.
Perhaps more than any other film ever made, Rear Window perfectly summarizes the appeal of going to the movies. When the film begins Jeffries watches his neighbors out of boredom, but then can’t take his eyes off one of them. Likewise, we, as movie-goers, watch films expecting (or hoping) to see something interesting. Unlike Jeffries, though, we are safe in doing so.
Hitchcock deservedly earned an Academy Award nomination for directing this film (alas, he would lose the Oscar that year to Elia Kazan for On the Waterfront).
This was also the second film with Hitchcock for both Stewart and Kelly. Stewart previously worked with the director in Rope (1948) while Kelly did the same in Dial M for Murder, which came out earlier in 1954.
Stewart would team up with Hitchcock again for The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) and Vertigo (1958), and Kelly would work with the director again in To Catch a Thief (1955). Burr would go on to achieve fame as the title character in the TV series Perry Mason.