Rear Window

Rear Window Literary Elements


Alfred Hitchcock

Leading Actors/Actresses

James Stewart, Grace Kelly

Supporting Actors/Actresses

Thelma Ritter, Wendell Corey, Raymond Burr






Won: 1955 New York Film Critics Circle Awards - Best Actress (Grace Kelly), 1954 National Board of Review - Best Actress (Grace Kelly); Nominated: 1955 Academy Awards for Best Director (Alfred Hitchcock), Best Screenplay (John Michael Hayes), Best Cinematography, Color (Robert Burks), Best Sound Recording (Loren L. Ryder), 1955 BAFTA Awards, Best Film

Date of Release

August 4, 1954 (USA)


Alfred HItchcock

Setting and Context

West Village, New York City, 1950s

Narrator and Point of View

L.B. Jefferies is the film's protagonist, and Hitchcock relies on Jeff's subjective perspective for much of the film.

Tone and Mood

The tone of the film is condemnatory; Hitchcock ultimately punishes Jeff for his voyeurism. The mood of the film is both restless and suspenseful.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonist: L.B. Jefferies; Antagonist: Lars Thorwald

Major Conflict

The crime around which Hitchcock has designed the film - Thorwald's murder of his wife - is actually a MacGuffin. The real conflict is between Lisa and Jeff. Jeff doesn't want to get married, and Lisa spends the film trying to prove to him that she would be a good wife.


The climax occurs when Thorwald attacks Jeff and he falls out the window; Lisa comes running to be by his side.


Stella, Lisa, and Doyle all warn Jeff that looking out the window is going to get him into trouble, but he doesn't listen. He thinks that he will be able to remain distant from the drama unfolding outside; he doesn't realize that danger will soon be outside his front door. In their first scene together, Stella tells Jeff, "I can smell trouble right here in this apartment. First you smash your leg, then you get to looking out the window, see things you shouldn't see - trouble."


1) Lisa: "Pay attention to me."
Jeff: "Well, I'm not exactly on the other side of the room." (00:44:36)
Jeff's line is an understatement because he and Lisa are kissing at that moment.

2) "If you find something, you've got a murderer and they don't care anything about a couple of house rules." (00:59:06)
This is an understatement because Jeff is not asking Doyle to break "a couple of house rules", he is asking him to search Thorwald's apartment without a warrant, which is a violation of the New York State Penal Code and could cost Doyle his badge.

Innovations in Filming or Lighting or Camera Techniques

Alfred Hitchcock called Rear Window his most "purely cinematic" film. By shooting the entire film from Jeff's point of view, Hitchcock was a true innovator in creating a subjective filmgoing experience. In order to control Jeff's world, Hitchcock commissioned the largest set ever built. However, because he was so meticulous, Hitchcock's art department did a great deal of research in order to accurately depict New York City's West Village in the mid-1950s. In addition, Hitchcock eschewed the common practice of using a film score and instead chose to only use diegetic sound. In addition, the lighting is very naturalistic; it all looks sourced.


1) Stella claims to have predicted a stock market crash because she was caring for a General Motors director who had a kidney ailment. She claims that his illness was brought on by nerves, and came to the conclusion that overproduction was going to lead to the company's collapse. This is an allusion to the actual Wall Street crash that occurred on October 24, 1929 and marked the start of the Great Depression.

2) Doyle alludes to his and Jeff's time together during World War II several times. At one point, he asks, "How did we ever stand each other in that plane for three years during the war?" (01:00:04). He does not mention the name of the war directly, but it makes sense that men of Jeff and Doyle's age would have been drafted.


1) "Nothing has caused the human race so much trouble as intelligence." - Stella (00:13:33)
This is a paradox because intelligence is what sets human beings apart from other mammals, but Stella cites it as the source of all of our problems (which wouldn't exist if we weren't intelligent beings).

2) "Did you kill him because he liked you? Just because he liked you?" - The Woman on the Fire Escape (01:24:28)
This is a paradox because it's unusual to kill someone (or something) when you like him/her/it. However, the woman on the fire escape uses the paradox to show her neighbors that her dog was friendly to everyone while the human beings living around the courtyard are generally detached; yet, the dog is the one who is murdered.


1) "By thrift, industry, and hard work. And catching the publisher with his secretary." - Gunnison, Jeff's editor (00:04:51)
2) "She's too perfect. She's too talented. She's too beautiful. She's too sophisticated. She's too everything but what I want." - Jeff (00:12:08)
3) "Neighbors like each other, speak to each other, care if anybody lives or dies, but none of you do." - The Woman on the Fire Escape (01:23:54)