Played by James Stewart, Jefferies (or "Jeff") is a celebrated photojournalist who has been sidelined by a broken leg sustained while filming close-ups on a racetrack. He is a World War II veteran and staunch bachelor, much preferring a life of international travel to settling down with Lisa, his refined Park Avenue girlfriend. However, due to his injury, Jeff is forced to spend several weeks confined to his West Village apartment, during which time he learns to see Lisa in a new light.
Lisa Carol Fremont
Jeff describes his girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly), as "too perfect." She is a blonde, lithe society girl who works in fashion and lives on Manhattan's ritzy Upper East Side. She has impeccable taste in clothes, shoes, and food, and is always up on the latest trends. Despite her polished exterior, however, Lisa proves herself to be much more rebellious and bold than Jeff previously imagined.
Stella, played by Thelma Ritter, is the nurse whom Jeff's insurance company has hired to look after him while he heals. She is sharp-tongued and opinionated, and espouses some rather traditional views when it comes to the subject of marriage. At first, she tries to get Jeff to stop spying on his neighbors, but she soon is swept up in the drama, as well.
During World War II, Jeff and Doyle spent three years on a plane together; Doyle was the pilot and Jeff was the photographer. Now, Doyle has become a detective, and Jeff calls on him for his unofficial opinion on the Thorwald "case." Doyle is cynical and not afraid to stand up to his old friend. He frequently challenges and mocks Jeff's obsession with his neighbors, but also does care about Jeff and have the capacity to admit when he is wrong.
We don't learn much about Rear Window's resident killer, "the salesman" Mr. Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr). He peddles wholesale costume jewelry for a living. He and his wife have lived in their West Village apartment for the past 6 months, and Jeff has watched Thorwald become increasingly frustrated with Mrs. Thorwald's nagging.
Jeff makes up nicknames for all his neighbors, and Miss Lonelyhearts (Judith Evelyn) earns hers because she is a middle-aged single woman who is desperate for love and keeps striking out. She eventually tries to commit suicide, but the beautiful music of the songwriter stops her from taking a bottle of pills. At the end of the film, Hitchcock hints that Miss Lonelyhearts might have found love after all; we see her upstairs in the songwriter's apartment.
Jeff refers to his comely blonde neighbor as "Miss Torso" (Georgine Darcy). A ballet dancer, Miss Torso frequently stretches and rehearses in revealing outfits. She is always surrounded by rich and handsome suitors, but, as Lisa observes, she's not in love with any of them. At the end of the film, Miss Torso welcomes home her short, ordinary-looking beau, who has just returned from war (presumably in Korea).
Mrs. Lars Thorwald only appears onscreen through Jeff's binoculars and camera lens. She is always in bed, although her spirit seems quite healthy; she is always nagging her husband, Mr. Thorwald. She exits the film within the first act, supposedly to go on a trip upstate, but Jeff uncovers the truth; Mr. Thorwald killed his wife and tried to hide her body.
Woman on the Fire Escape
Jeff does not have a clever nickname for the female half of a couple that sleeps on the fire escape outside their apartment. The woman on the fire escape (Sara Berner) has a little dog upon whom she dotes. When her pet is found strangled in the courtyard, she publicly chastises all of her neighbors for their lack of compassion.
There is a songwriter and musician (Ross Bagdasarian) living in a top-floor apartment across the courtyard from Jeff. His melodies frequently enchant Lisa and, eventually, Miss Lonelyhearts. The songwriter is single and he has a lively social life. Jeff posits that the songwriter has just gotten out of an unhappy marriage.
Rear Window Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Rear Window is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.