Rear Window (1954)

Screenplay Genre: Mystery / Romance / Thriller

Movie Time: 112 minutes

1. INCITING INCIDENT

L.B. Jeff Jeffries (James Stewart), a famous photographer, can’t go adventuring all over the world like he normally does because he’s stuck at home mending a broken leg. His only escape is voyeurism, living vicariously through the lives of his neighbors in the buildings adjacent to his. To make matters worse, his too-perfect girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) is angling toward settling down. He’s hemmed in on all sides. He decides he’s got to break up with her so he can maintain the lifestyle he’s used to. (00:10:38)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

After he breaks up with her, he asks if they can keep things status-quo for the time being. She’s angry, but she agrees before leaving. Moments later he hears a scream in the night, but he cannot identify where it came from. (00:30:25)

3. FIRST CULMINATION (Midpoint)

The strange behavior of Lars Thorwad (Raymond Burr), the salesman who lives across the way, catches Jeff’s attention. Jeff becomes convinced that the salesman has murdered his missing wife. Lisa chastises Jeff for being a creeper and wildly accusing people until she sees Thorwald securing a large trunk with heavy rope. She gets very serious and asks Jeff to recount his story. Finally someone believes him. (00:46:55)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

Jeff’s old war buddy Lt. Doyle (Wendell Corey) agrees to look into the murder, but after he does some checking, he tells Jeff and Lisa that their suspicions are misguided. Just as they are about to forget the whole thing, the little dog that had been digging around Thorwald’s garden turns up dead. They are positive Thorwald murdered the dog and his wife; they just have to prove it. Lisa puts herself at risk to try and find some evidence—now she is the one taking risks and adventuring. (01:22:55)

5. THIRD ACT TWIST

Thorwald catches Lisa snooping in his apartment and realizes he’s been being watched the whole time from the apartment across the way. The danger comes to Jeff when Thorwald breaks into his apartment and attacks him. The vicariousness has followed Jeff home. Luckily, his lifelong voyeuristic tendencies (i.e., photography) save him. He blinds Thorwald with flash bulbs just long enough so that the police can get there just in time to save his life and catch the bad guy.  (01:42:19)


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