In 1950’s New York, successful freelance photographer L. B. Jeffries (played by James Stewart) is spending a few weeks wheelchair bound in his upper story city apartment after an accident has left him with his leg in a cast. His natural and professional interest in other people is strong and he finds himself filling in his time by watching the day-to-day events in his neighbours’ lives using his camera and binoculars through the windows of his apartment block. He creates a scenario about each neighbour and we meet a dancer (“Miss Torso”), a lonely, frustrated spinster (“Miss Lonelyhearts”), a musician and a newlywed couple (who often close their blinds …). Jeffries’ girlfriend, Lisa Fremont (by Grace Kelly) visits regularly but although she is a hopeless optimist, Jeffries’ moodiness is starting to get to her and she is losing patience in him ever proposing marriage. Another regular visitor to Jeffries is his nurse, Stella (by Thelma Ritter) who provides some welcome social relief in his enclosed and limited world. As the weeks go by, Jeffries develops an obsession about his neighbours’ lives and becomes convinced that one – Lars Thorwald (by Raymond Burr) – has committed a murder. Jeffries involves a policeman Tom Doyle (by Wendell Corey), but he decides to collect his own evidence of this crime and as he is house-bound, he persuades Lisa to become the active investigator. This leads them into an enthralling and dangerous situation ….
Well, what can I say? .. this movie is a classic. The entire story plays out in Jeffries’ apartment and from the first frame Hitchcock demonstrates his mastery – every scene is captivating. The script is excellent but often the mood is portrayed so well there is little need for dialogue. All the performances are impeccable – particularly James Stewart who, as he is immobile, must portray his moods and emotions through actions, facial gestures and tone of voice – he is just marvellous. Grace Kelly is a shining light in all her scenes and the wonderful Thelma Ritter is realistic and hugely entertaining.
The movie was nominated for four Academy (Oscar) Awards in 1955, Best Cinematography – Color, Best Director, Best Sound Recording and Best Writing – Screenplay,
Made 1954: Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.