In Hitchcock’s thriller from 1954, James Stewart is photographer L.B. Jeffries, forced to stay at home with a broken leg, and nothing better to do than stare out of his rear window and watch the lives of his neighbours going on around him. He becomes convinced that one of the neighbours has committed murder, and is determined to prove it, despite a lack of any evidence. His girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and his nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) help him try to uncover the evidence he needs.
I love this kind of movie – apart from just a couple of scenes, everything the viewer sees is exactly how Jeffries sees it from his window. This means that we are privy to only the things he is aware of, and this really places the viewer in the apartment with Jeffries.
James Stewart was great in the central role. He plays an active man, who enjoys his varied and exciting work as a photographer, who is frustrated at being stuck in his apartment all the time. Another source of frustration is his relationship with Lisa; while he thinks they have no future because they are so different, she is very much in love and can’t understand why he is not more enthusiastic about them being together. Grace Kelly does a great job in the role, and there seems to be real chemistry between the characters. However, it is Thelma Ritter who makes a bigger impression – and nearly steals all of the scenes she is in, as the sharp minded and quick talking Stella.
The ending has been somewhat maligned, for reasons I won’t mention here, as to do so would be to give away spoilers, but I personally liked it, especially the very last couple of scenes.
This is not a film with lots of twists and turns and a lot of action – in fact there is very little action, but I still thought there was plenty of suspense, and would certainly watch this film again.
Year of release: 1954
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: John Michael Hayes, Cornell Woolrich
Main cast: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr