Making the Grades
In Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 suspense thriller Rear Window, James Stewart is cast as L. B. "Jeff" Jeffries, a world traveling action photographer convalescing a broken leg. As he endures a month of confinement in his modest and stiflingly hot apartment, mind-numbing boredom ensues. Biding his time watching the tenants who live across the courtyard, Jeff uses his telescopic photo lens to facilitate his peeping tom compulsion. Soon Jeff is convinced his neighbor Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) is responsible for the disappearance of Mrs. Thorwald, his invalid wife.
Concerned about her boyfriend's obsession, socialite Lisa (Grace Kelly) struggles to come to terms with his "rear window ethics" until circumstances bring the suspected murder and her relationship with Jeff into sharp focus. Together they discover that the once mundane little world outside their window has become deceptively intricate, and things develop faster than they could have imagined.
Younger children may be better off tucked in bed, as the film's subject matter is a little intense for them. Although this is a murder mystery, the scenes of violence (pushing, shoving, falling) are minimal, using the viewers' imagination instead. A few segments contain some extremely mild sexuality. On one occasion, Jeff's girlfriend surprises him with an overnight bag containing lingerie, and a young voluptuous dancer Jeff calls "Miss Torso" overexposes her frame by stretching and bending while wearing only 1950's style undergarments (in a brief scene we see her bare back).
Parents and their older kids will appreciate the well-constructed witty story and stellar acting performances that earned this movie four Academy Award nominations including best director. Not as horrific as some of his films, Rear Window is a good introduction to Hitchcock's work. And don't forget to show this new generation of fans the adult version of "Where's Waldo"--the master of suspense always included a cameo appearance in each of his productions.
Created back when you didn't need millions of dollars worth special effects to capture the audiences' attention, Rear Window, shot on a single set, holds us in delicious anticipation in what is perhaps Alfred Hitchcock's finest film.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Rear Window.
In one scene Lisa breaks into an apartment in order to find incriminating evidence. Is it justifiable to commit a crime if the results help solve another?
How would you feel if you were one of the neighbors Jeff watched? How might our behavior change if we were aware of being observed? Should hidden cameras be permitted in shopping malls or at the work place?