Rear Window – Ending, Explained: Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal thriller, ‘Rear Window,’ remains a foundational entry in the genre, a distinctly influential film, and a bonafide masterpiece. In looking at the act of an excitedly curious man’s discovery of a crime, he shows us the relationship between a viewer and a filmmaker and how important the imagination of the former is in the realization of the latter’s intention. It also juggles a murder mystery with a romance that is paid a great deal of attention since the nature of human relationships in mid-century America is a prime concern here by Hitchcock. A sublime Grace Kelly and one of the many everymen that Jimmy Stewart so effortlessly brought to life serve as the constantly entertaining pair through whom we view how a little urban idyll gets corrupted.
Rear Window Plot
A heat wave has hit New York City, and the people on West 9th Street resort to scanty clothing as a solution. Watching them at every step from his apartment window is L.B. Jeffries, photojournalist extraordinaire, temporarily immobile owing to a broken leg he got as a result of trying to get an unconventional photograph at a car race. He passes his days observing his neighbors so intently, in fact, that he’s even given nicknames to some owing to their lifestyles and daily routines. He’s paid a daily visit by Stella, the wise-cracking insurance nurse who keeps his imagination from running too wild. Jeffries is in a troubled romantic relationship with socialite Lisa Fremont, an angelic beauty who is head over heels in love with him. Jeff’s unpredictable and dangerous profession makes him view Lisa as too perfect a specimen to be his wife, who he believes won’t take well to his nomadic life. But Lisa is stubborn about wanting to make Jeff realize the power of her love and the misconceptions he has about compatibility.
Across the yard from Jeff lives a married couple, Mr. and Mrs. Thorwald, both nearing middle age and in a marriage that can hardly be called ideal. He is a traveling costume jewelry salesman, and she’s an invalid who spends her days in her bed. Lars is having an extramarital affair that his wife soon finds out about. On a rainy night, a shriek is heard from Mrs. Thorwald. Then, Lars is seen suspiciously leaving and returning to his apartment multiple times well into the wee hours. Mrs. Thorwald goes missing from her apartment the following day.
Lars starts living alone; his wife’s bed becomes a table for his clothes which look like they’re arranged for packing, he sends out a mysterious trunk, and a neighbor’s pet dog starts to sniff around and dig into his flower bed to his chagrin. Jeff, who keeps a close watch over his place, is convinced that she has been murdered and her body disposed of. But he doesn’t have any evidence, and all he can go by is Lars’s behavior and body language inside the privacy of his apartment. Jeff’s Detective friend, Tom Doyle, inquires into the whereabouts of Mrs. Thorwald and finds out that she left for Merritsville, where the mysterious trunk was received by her, hence disproving Jeff’s suspicions. But when his girlfriend Lisa and then Stella find themselves convinced that something wrong has taken place at the Thorwalds’, they organize themselves in an amateur detective trio in trying to figure out just what happened to the poor woman.
Who was the woman that Lars left his apartment with on the night of the murder?
Tom told Jeff that the superintendent of Lars’s building saw Lars leave for the train station with his wife, hence proving that she wasn’t dead, to begin with. Jeff thinks that Lars paid off the superintendent to lie, but as it turns out, it wasn’t so at all. In fact, the woman the superintendent saw was the woman Lars had his affair with and who was complicit in the murder of Mrs. Thorwald.
Following the murder and the scattering of the body parts, Lars disguised his paramour as his wife to not arouse any suspicion about her disappearance. He took her to the station and put her on a train to Merritsville, beginning the ruse about her departure. The long-distance calls Jeff saw him making were to her to keep track of her whereabouts, and he even sent her his wife’s clothes in a trunk to make the story all the more believable. As his apartment lease was going to be over in half a month, it was all designed to seem like she had left for another place, and Lars was to join her there. The postcard from Merritsville was part of the act to conclude that story convincingly.
What was the dog digging up?
Having murdered his wife, Lars cut her up into pieces and then spread them all over the place to get rid of them. Some of her were buried in his flower bed, and the smell of blood and flesh was what was attracting his neighbor’s pet dog to it. As it’s a dog’s habit to dig up what has been buried, to Lars, it was a major threat as it would’ve exposed his deed had it successfully discovered his wife’s remains. In order to prevent that, Lars killed the dog in the hopes that it would stop the discovery of his gruesome crime.
Rear Window Ending, Explained
Lisa’s daredevil entry into Lars’s apartment did land her in trouble but also gave her the one clue that confirmed the murder of Mrs. Thorwald – her wedding ring, something she certainly wouldn’t have taken off if she went on a trip. When she points at it while talking to the police, Lars notices Jeff looking into his apartment. To confirm that it really is him, he calls Jeff, and Jeff’s response to it, mistaking it as Tom, having called him back, gives away his position. As Lisa kept screaming Jeff’s name when Lars discovered her in his apartment, he knew which name to look for in the building across the yard from his.
When Lars confronts Jeff, all the latter can do is try to keep himself safe as he doesn’t have weapons. So he uses his flashbulbs to stun Jeff inside the unlit apartment. Lisa arrives with the police just after Tom gets her out of jail. Since Lars manages to only throw Jeff out of his apartment from the rear window, he escapes with another broken leg as he doesn’t live too high up in the building. Following the fiasco, Jeff’s suspicions are proven to be correct as we find out that Lars did murder his wife, cut her up into pieces, and then spread her parts in various places, including the East River, where Stella had speculated to be a possible dumping ground. Following Lars’s arrest, Jeff and Lisa are seen happily sleeping in his apartment. Lisa’s actions must’ve proven that she isn’t merely a dainty princess but a woman with grit who wants to share in his interests, making her an appropriate partner.
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Rear Window Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes
Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
Rear Window Cast: James Stewart Grace Kelly Wendell Corey