One day you’ll see something you shouldn’t
I have always wanted my birthday to be in October.
I love fall, the colors, the weather, Halloween. Even as a child I just adored the holiday and the classic monster movies.
Even though October will always be my favorite month, I do love one thing about May. I share the same birthday as my favorite actor-Jimmy Stewart.
It’s time for the annual Alfred Hitchcock film.
And as seen from the above poster, I am going to share one of my favorite of Jimmy Stewart Alfred Hitchcock movies. Rear Window is such a great film because it is so relatable. Who hasn’t glanced in a neighbor’s window when passing? Who hasn’t people watched when bored? I know, I have. In fact, one of the reasons I keep my blinds closed and curtains drawn is that I hate the idea of people watching me.
It’s a great setup and one that has since been copied over and over again, so let’s start with the original classic.
We start looking at a window who’s blinds are slowly coming up as we see all the cast names. Then out the window a little cat, people on their balconies, birds, milkman, a man shaving, neighbors across the way sleeping outside in the open air, a beautiful dancer girl stretching and making breakfast.
This movie was shot on set and included thirty-one apartments, of which twelve were fully furnished. The actors spent all their time in the apartments as many had running water, etc.
While shooting, Alfred Hitchcock worked only through Jeff’s “apartment”, everything is filmed from those set of windows to make it seem as if Jeff was watching. The actors and actresses in other apartments wore flesh-colored earpieces so that he could radio his directions to them.
We then go to Jimmy Stewart, L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies, who’s leg is in a cast, a broken and a mangled camera on the counter and all his pictures-bomb, car crash, and a negative of a woman, the actual picture gracing the cover of a magazine. I love how Alfred Hitchcock just shows us-we see he was an important photographer and the car crash is what caused the accident.
It has been six weeks since he had his leg in the cast, he has just one more week left. His editor called him because he wanted him to go on an assignment, but he can’t as he still has a cast. Jeff is angry, bored, grumpy, and hates everything.
He’s watching his neighbor across the way, a husband and wife who are arguing as he talks to his boss. He’s thinking of getting married because he’s so bored, but has second thoughts as the neighbors do not have a good relationship, the two always yelling. Afterwards, the man goes out to the garden.
In comes Stella, Thelma Ritter. She’s Jeff’s nurse and plays this role as she does every role-sassy. Stella insists that she can sense trouble and she says that she senses it in the apartment, that Jeff will see something he shouldn’t and end up in a courthouse surrounded by lawyers…
Jeff complains that trouble is on the horizon with Lisa Freemont (Grace Kelly), she wants them to get married but he doesn’t. She’s too perfect-beautiful, smart, talented, rich, park avenue girl, etc. She’s an uptown girl and he’s a downtown man. He doesn’t see how it will work, as he would be better with someone ordinary and regular.
Stella thinks he’s being dumb and should just be happy to be with Lisa. I love Stella-she’s just says what she wants and doesn’t think about it. Jeff over thinks except when he takes his pictures.
Jeff looks out at his neighbors and sees a new couple that have just been married. Alfred Hitchcock doesn’t tell you these things but shows them in the way they act, the husband taking the girl out and carrying her over the threshold so you know they are married. And then they close the blinds down
It’s night and we see Jeff sleeping ad kissing the beautiful Grace Kelly, it isn’t a dream though as that’s his girlfriend Lisa Freemont. She’s in a gorgeous dress and we see the full effect as she turns the lights on. She helped choose her own clothes and did it perfectly.
Lisa: A steal at $1,100.
Jeff: Eleven hundred? They ought to list that dress on the stock exchange.
She is gorgeously attired, as usual, but even more so as she wants to celebrate his final week in a cast. She got dinner from 21 to go-food and wine. It’s funny because that was novel then (Lisa doing it because she paid quite a bit and is an “important client”), but now every restaurant has a service like that.
Lisa shares her day-clothes, lunch, drinks, breakfast, money, money, money money. I can see why Jeff doesn’t think they will work, I’m totally with him. They seem to have very little in common. You can see why she cares for him though, he’s very different and treats her different from probably the other men in her life. I wonder how they met…oh yes-the magazine earlier with the picture of the woman was a fashion one.
Jeff looks out the window and sees a woman all dressed up and acting as if she is on a date-but she’s alone. Aw…it makes me wonder-do you think she is a widow and misses being in a relationship so she reenacts it, or do you think she’s just alone? A widow makes more sense to me, or even if it is her boyfriend that died.
They look at Miss Torso (the ballerina) she’s beautiful and has a lot of men over-Jeff thinks she’s happy, but Lisa isn’t convinced.
Jeff: She’s like a queen bee with her pick of the drones.
Lisa: I’d say she’s doing a woman’s hardest job: juggling wolves.
Jeff looks at the apartment where the husband and wife fight a lot. She’s always sick in bed, but strangely today the husband made her food and seems to be taking more care. He’s on the phone we see him in the window in one room and she in the other, she gets out of bed and is yelling-upset. They go into the other room and she is freaking out crying, laughing, hmmmm.
Another apartment a man is trying to compose something, Lisa loves the music. Lisa tries to build the romantic mood, but Jeff is just shooting her down. I get he’s trying to get her to leave him, break it off, but its really rude. Jeff then tries to break it off, but Lisa says no.
Lisa is a bit of a jerk in the relationship too, she goes on and on because she’s angry and won’t let Jeff. try and share his thoughts. He tries to get her to see how different they are, and I like this. She’s in obvious denial about his life and thinks if he can talk over here she will listen. This feels so real-she loves him and wants to be with him and doesn’t want to give it up.
Awwww. Eventually, Lisa’s had enough. She’s hurt, puts on her gloves and pashima, and leaves-good-bye. Now that he hears the finality in her voice he doesn’t want her to leave. Lisa hears it, and reneges. She’ll be back tomorrow night.
Jeff: When am I going to see you again?
Lisa: [angry] Not for a long time…[softening] at least not until tomorrow night.
We see Jeff thinking. That’s what he wanted, good-bye? Right?
That night he hears a scream and a crash. He wakes up later to rain and sees the couple who sleep outside hurrying in. But then the couple earlier-the man and wife who were fighting, he leaves with suitcases. He’s gone for a while and returns with the suitcase. Then the man goes out again with the suitcase, in the rain…Weird.
Why would he do that tonight of all nights, and in the rain? And why twice?
Jeff tries to stay up, he looks a the apartment, all the blinds are down and no sign of the wife. Miss Torso is back, screaming at someone on the other side of the door-upset. Her date looked like he was trying to push his way in.
The man comes back with the suitcase. It’s very odd, very odd. And later in the morning he is at it again, but it looks like a woman is with him?
The next day Jeff tells Stella about seeing him going out with his salescase at 3 in the morning. Stella laughs it off-and comes up with explanations, but i don’t think so. That’s highly suspicious.
They watch the salesman, but Jeff makes them scoot back so the Salesman can’t see them, and I love the transition from light to darkness.They notice that the salesman is looking at the dog who was digging around where the salesman buried something. He then notices the salesman cleaning out his sample case and putting all the samples back in. Then what did he have in their before? Jeff scoots back so his head in shadow and watches him with the binoculars, changing them out for his telephoto lens.
The salesman is wrapping up a butcher knife and small saw in newspaper and sleeping on the couch. Why isn’t he going in his bedroom?
That night the dog is again digging in that spot, but is taken inside by his owner. You know I like that they show these scenes only in the morning and night, as during the day they are gone working. I never noticed that before.
Jeff shares his suspicion of the neighbor with Lisa, but Lisa isn’t interested she wants to continue to kiss. The Salesman hasn’t gone in the room where is wife is all day and he didn’t go to work that day.
Jeff: I’ve seen bickering and family quarrels and mysterious trips at night, and knives and saws and ropes, and now since last evening, not a sign of the wife. How do you explain that?
Lisa: Maybe she died.
Jeff: Where’s the doctor? Where’s the undertaker?
Jeff thinks that he must have killed her and cut the body up. He’s been gone for a long time but comes back and finally goes in the room with rope. I’m totally with Jeff, it’s weird that she’s an invalid in need of constant care, but he hasn’t gone in there until now. Lisa thinks he is being crazy and tries to reason him out of it.
But then Lisa looks and she starts thinking too. They see that he has a suitcase tied up and the mattress all rolled up. Lisa starts thinking about what he says and then asks him to start at the beginning.
Lisa: Tell me exactly what you saw and what you think it means.
This is really cute as they finally have something in common. Lisa goes to do the legwork and finds out that they are Mr. & Mrs. Lars Thorwald. It’s so cute they are going to investigate this “crime”.
Jeff calls his friend Detective Doyle (Wendell Corey), but he’s not interested. He is finally convinced to come over and talk later when he has some free time.
Now Stella is all into it and she’s also trying to help solve it. She’s convinced that Thorwald did it in the bathtub. Men come into Thorwald’s apartment and cart the trunk away, Stella runs off to investigate the name of the freight truck, I love how they are so into it.
Detective Doyle isn’t convinced about there having been a murder. He says all the same things Lisa did, it’s too obvious to do it the way Jeff is saying. He says that he won’t do an “official report” but will poke around a bit and heads out. Not helpful at all, but Jeff is distracted when he sees the dog digging in the spot Thorwald buried something again. Hmm…what is in there?
Jeff does see his friend talking to the landlord. It turns out Thorwald signed a 6 months lease (completed 5.5 months), he and the wife “left” at 6 am, they aren’t close to any neighbors, he doesn’t drunk, is the perfect renter, etc. Jeff asks who said they left at 6 am, the landlord said that Thorwald told him that he put his wife on a train.
Jeff tries to get him to investigate and search the apartment, but he tries to explain to Jeff he can’t do that. Oh, Jeff-he has to have a search warrant. Detective Doyle decides to leave, but shares a post card with Jeff that was in Mr. Lars box-it is from his wife saying that she is with her sister.
Jeff is disappointed but doesn’t give up. It just doesn’t jell with him.
Jeff uses his telephoto lens to watch different people. Miss Lonelyhearts, the woman with no date is getting ready, but drinking a bit. Quite a bit. She leaves that night.
The composer is having party with pretty ladies. Miss Torso is practicing. Miss Lonelyhearts goes across the street to the diner and then Thorwald comes into view. He just looks mean and like a murderer The glasses gives his eyes a squinty look, plus the way he walks-creepy. A great actor, he does so much in just his movements.
Alfred Hitchcock supposedly hired Raymond Burr to play Lars Thorwald because he could be easily made to look like his old producer David O. Selznick, who Hitchcock hated for interfering.
Jeff picks up his phone and calls the Detective’s home. He asks his wife to send him over if she hears from him, LOL before cellphones. Thorwald has his wife’s purse-weird as wouldn’t she take that with her. He’s on the phone long distance as he goes through the bag, all full of jewelry. Why wouldn’t she take her jewelry-necklaces, and rings. Most women who wear jewelry would. Hmm… He hides the purse with everything under his coat and jacket on the bed.
Lisa comes over and Jeff points Lars out sharing everything. She finds it to be very telling that he asked someone for an opinion on his wife’s jewelry-someone not his wife. Lisa shares that she has been thinking about this all day. A woman has a favorite handbag, one she uses before the others-if she were to go on a trip, she wouldn’t leave it behind. She also points out that a woman doesn’t throw her jewelry in her purse where it would get twisted up. Lisa thinks the woman wasn’t Mrs. Thorwald, but just a woman-the soon to be Mrs. Thorwald.
Now they have something in common they have grown closer together. Lisa plans to stay all night, and Lisa shows that she can live out of one suitcase, she put all her stiff in n ovenight case the size of a medium handbag. The dialogue is cute as well. She says in all detective literature you need a girl friday to help save the day. She’s not wrong.
Detective Doyle comes over sees the suitcase and hears Lisa and uses his detective skills to put it together. He comes in and looks at the room, and it is clear that he is hooked as well, not convinced but intrigued. Detective Doyle shares that Thorwald is not a murderer. He can’t explain everything , but the railroad station-ticket was bought, wife delivered, etc. Lisa tries to argue with him, but Detective Doyle is against women’s logic. He found the trunk and it was full of the wife’s clothes. That was weird-Jeff questions it, but Doyle shrugs off that she probably left him.
I love the look of disgust Lisa gives the detective, your misyoginy is not welcome here, she walks over and stands by Jeff-Doyle geting the hint to leave. Boom.
Miss Lonelyhearts brought a man home with her, hmm. He grabs her, and she is not interested. She slaps him ad throws him out. She falls down crying. Aww,
Jeff starts wondering if what he is doing is wrong. Lisa lets the blinds down as she wants to be his sole focus.
Lisa changes her clothes, but is interrupted by a scream. The woman with the dog is freaking out because her dog is dead-strangled, neck broken.
Miss Lonelyhearts tucks the little dog carefully in the basket. His owner cries and yells at them all for being horrible neighbors.
Woman on Fire Escape: [the woman’s dog has just been killed from a broken neck; screaming in distraught at the other neighbors] WHICH ONE OF YOU DID IT? WHICH ONE OF YOU KILLED MY DOG? You don’t know the meaning of the word ‘neighbors’! Neighbors like each other, speak to each other, care if somebody lives or dies! BUT NONE OF YOU DO!
Jeff sees it and knows he is right-Thorwald murdered his wife and this dog. In the whole courtyard one person wasn’t surprised and didn’t come to the window like the others did-Thorwald.
They see Thorwald cleaning the bathroom-Stella is still convinced that he killed her in the bathroom and the blood splattered. Jeff looks at the yard and notices something is not right.
He looks through old pictures and notices that the flowers are shorter-he buried something in the garden. Lisa thinks it is the body-but Stella tells her that a full body wouldn’t fit. He buried something and the dog kept something important is in there.
Lisa: What’s he doing? Cleaning house?
Jeff: He’s washing and scrubbing down the bathroom walls.
Stella: Must’ve splattered a lot. [both Jeff and Lisa look at Stella with disgust] Come on, that’s what were all thinkin’. He killed her in there, now he has to clean up those stains before he leaves.
Lisa: Stella… your choice of words!
Stella: Nobody ever invented a polite word for a killin’ yet.
Jeff: Those two yellow zinnias at the end, they’re shorter now. Now since when do flowers grow shorter over the course of two weeks? Something’s buried there.
Lisa: Mrs. Thorwald!
Stella: You haven’t spent much time around cemeteries, have you? Mr. Thorwald could hardly bury his wife’s body in plot of ground about one foot square. Unless he put her in standing on end, in which case he wouldn’t need the knives and saw.
They notice that Thorwald is getting ready to flee and need to keep him there until they get more evidence. They write a note asking “What have you done with Mrs. Thornwald’s body?”
Jeff writes the message and Lisa delivers it. I love the use of the windows, angles, etc. Alfred Hitchcock knew what he was doing. The telephoto lens, binoculars, etc.
Thornwall looks for who left the note but Lisa is faster hiding downstairs.
Stella sees Miss Lonelyhearts taking sedatives and she looks to be taking quite a bit of them. She starts talking about it with Jeff, but they are distracted with Lisa’s return as they watch him pack up the handbag. Jeff starts thinking about the jewelry-he had three rings when he was looking at them. What if it is a wedding ring?
Lisa: The last thing Mrs. Thorwald would leave behind would be her wedding ring. Stella, do you ever leave yours at home?
Stella: The only way somebody would get that would be to chop off my – finger. Let’s go down to the garden and find out what’s buried there.
Lisa: Why not? I always wanted to meet Mrs. Thorwald.
Stella and Lisa want to go digging in the garden, but Jeff is afraid for them. He decides he needs to get Thorwald out and calls him, aw before star69
He calls Thorwald and threatens him, telling him to meet him-blackmail. Thorwald insists he knows not what he is talking about, but the threat of the police sends him going. Jeff watches while the ladies head down. I love that the ladies are the ones investigating, it’s fun take, different from what you usually would see. You know like Oracle and Batman and Robin.
Stella starts digging and Jeff calls Doyle again. He isn’t home but speaks to the baby-sitter. Jeff sees Miss Lonelyhearts writing and thinks Stella was wrong about killing herself, but she could be writing a suicide note. Stella finds nothing in the garden and Lisa takes off to search the house, she climbs the fire escape and sneaks in a window in her full gown and high heels. She digs through the bag, but no jewelry.
Stella goes back to Jeff’s apartment and distracts him from watching for Thorwald as she sees Miss Lonelyhearts and tells Jeff to call the police to get her help, but then the music stops Miss Lonelyhearts from killing herself, but oh no-they forgot about Thornwald, he’s arrived home and Lisa is still in the house she tries to to hide while Jeff calls the police telling them she is being assaulting and for her to get over here ASAP.
Across the way, Lisa is telling Jeff something, hiding her hand behind her back. Thorwald starts attacking her while Stella and Jeff are at a loss of what to do. Thornwald turn off the lights to do the deed, when the police luckily arrives.
They speak to Lisa while Stella and Jeff are watching.
Lisa points to her fingers, and she has a wedding ring on. Thorwald looks up-he noticed her pointing and realizes that someone must be watching.
OMG so creepy!!!
Jeff tries to scrap some money together to get Lisa out of jail.
Stella: How much do we need to bail Lisa from jail?
Jeff: Well, this is first offense burglary, that’s about $250. I have $127.
Stella: Lisa’s handbag. Uh… 50 cents. I got $20 or so in my purse.
Jeff: And what about the rest?
Stella: When those cops at the station see Lisa, they’ll even contribute.
Doyle calls Jeff back and Jeff tells him that Lisa is in jail. Doyle isn’t listening at first, they had been out, but after hearing about Lisa Doyle’s listening.
Jeff looks up and notices that Thorwald isn’t in his apartment, The phone rings and he thinks it is Doyle but no one answers….his face says it all-Thorwald.
And Jeff has a broken leg!!!!
And an unlocked door!
Jef turns and waits, aaahhhh I love this and hate this-the waiting, just waiting, waiting. You know he’s coming but when?
Jeff looks around for a weapon but has nothing. He can’t even stand to hide or get something. All he has is his camera and flash cubes.
The room is dark and we see nothing, but hear the foosteps until he charges in, the light on his glasses it is soo creepy.
Here he comes, ahhhh.
Jeff does all he can and takes his pictures, stunning Thorwald. Now those old flashcubes are not like today’s flash. Today’s flash hurts but those were way more intense. Thorwald tries to strangle him while the police and everyone is across the street. They hear Jeff scream and Thorwald tries to throw Jeff out the window. He’s hanging on by a thread but thankfully the other neighbors hear and call out, the police running, He falls out the window but the fall is partially broken by the police.
Thorwalds confesses, his wife was dumped in the east river. Stella asks about the garden and it turns out something was buried in the garden but he took it out and put it in a hatbox. What do you think it is? A head? teeth? The saw? The knife?
So we get to see what happens to the rest of the neighbors. Miss Lonelyhearts got with the composer. The couple who sleeps outside has a new dog. Miss Torso has her love return, a military guy. The newlyweds are arguing as the husband quit his job. And then we see Jeff, who has two broken legs as the result of his adventures.
Lisa is in a shirt and loafers and reading a book, Behind the Himalayas, although after Jeff sleeps-back to Bazaar. Trying to show Jeff she can live in his world.
At the end of the film there is a special thank you to Georgine Darcy? Of course you know where my mind goes, it sounds very similar to Georgiana Darcy.
I looked it up and that’s Miss Torso. I wonder if her parents were Jane Austen fans. Let’s do some research…
I don’t see anything that confirms or denies it. Oh well.
For more Rear Window, go to I Can Keep Up With You: Rear Window (1954)
For more Alfred Hitchcock, go to Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Manderley Again: Rebecca (1940)
For more Jimmy Stewart, go to With a Little Luck of the Irish: 17 More Irish Heroes
For more Grace Kelly, go to The Perfect Murder: Dial “M” for Murder (1954)
For more Raymond Burr, go to You Don’t Know Which Way to Turn, There’s No Place to Hide, Nowhere to run…: The Blue Gardenia (1953)