This much-loved Hitchcock picture, based on the Cornell Woolrich story "It Had to Be Murder," is a superb example of suspense filmmaking, especially when one considers the technical limitations of its single set. Magazine photographer Stewart has a broken leg and is confined to a
wheelchair in his Greenwich Village apartment, where he has nothing to do but passively sit back and watch the mundane day-to-day activities that take place in the courtyard outside his rear apartment window. His neighbors are conspicuously unconscious of their own vulnerability to Stewart's
constant gaze. He watches housewives, newlyweds (the only persons who actually draw the shades on their rear windows), a composer in a posh apartment, a lonely woman he dubs Miss Lonely Hearts, a Broadway ballerina, and, of particular interest, Lars Thorwald (Burr). After playing the voyeur for
some time, Stewart begins to suspect that Thorwald has murdered his wife. Since Stewart is immobile, he enlists the aid of Kelly, a cool, blonde fashion model (here at her loveliest and most beguiling) who, because she is desperately in love with him, agrees to do his dangerous "legwork".
This, of all Hitchcock films, is an exercise in voyeurism, in which the audience has no choice but to assume the role of voyeur. It's like being Hitchcock for 112 minutes. "Look out the window, see things you shouldn't see," says Stewart's nurse Ritter, and look out the window the viewer does,
having the same single and mounting terrifying perspective as does Stewart. One of the film's early ad campaigns read, "If you do not experience delicious terror when you see REAR WINDOW, then pinch yourself--you are most probably dead."
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- Rating: NR
- Review: This much-loved Hitchcock picture, based on the Cornell Woolrich story "It Had to Be Murder," is a superb example of suspense filmmaking, especially when one considers the technical limitations of its single set. Magazine photographer Stewart has a broken… (more)