LB Jeffries (Jimmy Stewart) is an adventure photographer whose latest photo shoot on a race track has landed him in a wheelchair, stuck in his apartment with nowhere to look but out his massive REAR WINDOW.
Luckily for him (and for us) that window looks into a massive Manhattan courtyard and the rear windows of all his neighbors. Jeffries has the equivalent of a dozen reality shows all going on in his neighbors rooms, from a young dancer to a middle aged woman who's desperately lonely.
Jeffries finds his focus drawn to the apartment across from his, where a seemingly bed-ridden woman constantly fights with her brooding hulk of a husband Lars Thorwald, played by TV's Perry Mason, Raymond Burr.
Jeffries girlfriend Lisa (the stunning Grace Kelly) and visiting nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) soon join Jeffries in becoming convinced that Thorwald has murdered his wife.
Director Alfred Hitchcock crafts one of his best films with this 1954 classic. The first 45 minutes takes its time, slowly revealing all of the stories in the surrounding apartments and then tightening the suspense for the final hour. The last 15 minutes is a masterclass in editing and photography as Lisa enters Thorwald's apartment looking for clues and their secret voyeurism turns back on them.
Jimmy Stewart is fantastic, showing plenty of humor, talent and energy even though he never leaves the wheelchair.
Stewart and Grace are great together. She's got to be one of the most beautiful movie stars in history and their chemistry is terrific and surprisingly frank and sexy for 1954.
Ritter is very funny as the nurse with an endless supply of clever one-liners, Burr is intimidating and Wendell Corey is fine as Jeffries detective buddy who thinks Jeff should mind his own business.
Hitchcock is at the top of his game here. The set design is flawless and massive. His camera rarely stops, swooping in and out of windows across the courtyard (but NEVER physically into any other apartment) to turn what could have been claustrophobic in lesser hands into a story-rich playground for his visual style.
Hitchcock directed the entire film from Jeffries apartment set, telling the actors in the other apartments what to do via flesh colored ear pieces they all wore. Somehow, being bound in the same apartment as Jeffries adds immeasurably to the tension.
REAR WINDOW is a masterpiece, worthy of repeat viewings and one of Hitch's best. Definitely in my all-time top 100, it gets an appreciative A+.