This classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller is an exercise in morbid curiosity. While professional photographer L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies (James Stewart) is laid up with a broken leg in his Greenwich Village apartment, to combat the boredom, he begins to spy on his neighbors across the courtyard, giving them names such as “Miss Lonelyhearts” for a seemly lonely woman and “Miss Torso” for an attractive dancer. There’s also a newlywed couple, a pianist, a middle-aged couple whose little dog likes to dig in the garden, and Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr), a traveling salesman with a bedridden wife.
One night during a storm, Jeff believes he may have witnessed Thorwald murdering his wife and later dismembering her and getting rid of her body via suitcases and a large trunk. Determined to learn the truth, Jeff enlists his visiting nurse, Stella (Thelma Ritter), and his socialite girlfriend, Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly), eventually calling on his NYC Police Detective buddy Tom Doyle (Wendell Corey).
It’s a masterful exercise in tension, and the film carries the meta effect of transforming its audience into voyeurs like Jeff himself—something Hitchcock was especially adept at in films such as Vertigo, Psycho, and Dial M for Murder. (102 min.)