Laid up with a broken leg, photojournalist L.B. Jeffries (James Stewart) is confined to his tiny, sweltering courtyard apartment. To pass the time between visits from his nurse (Thelma Ritter) and his fashion model girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly), the binocular-wielding Jeffries stares through the rear window of his apartment at the goings-on in the other apartments around his courtyard.
As he watches his neighbours, he assigns them such roles and character names as "Miss Torso", a professional dancer with a healthy social life or "Miss Lonelyhearts", a middle-aged woman who entertains nonexistent gentlemen callers. Of particular interest is seemingly mild-mannered travelling salesman Lars Thorwald, who is saddled with a nagging, invalid wife.
One afternoon, Thorwald pulls down his window shade, and his wife's incessant bray comes to a sudden halt. Out of boredom, Jeffries casually concocts a scenario in which Thorwald has murdered his wife and disposed of the body in gruesome fashion. Trouble is, Jeffries' musings just might happen to be the truth.
THE OBSERVER’S KILLIAN FOX SAYS: “Hitchcock made a career out of indulging our voyeuristic tendencies and he understood, better than any other film-maker, how to excite them. I don't think he ever did it more skilfully, or with more gleeful self-awareness, than in Rear Window. I've been keeping a close eye on my neighbours ever since.”