A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Mixed-messages. Though the ethics of eavesdropping and spying are topics of the characters' conversation in a number of scenes, the outcome eventually validates the act of eavesdropping and spying. And though the protagonist at times seems nosy, interfering, and is very much a Peeping Tom, the behavior is validated when he becomes a hero.
Positive Role Models
Traditional 1950s roles: men are photographers, cops, salesmen; women are caregivers, ballerinas, and work in the fashion industry. The female lead tries to break the mold and take part in the action, however, she ends up having to be rescued. The only person of color in the film is a stereotypical African-American voice at the other end of a phone call.
Violence & Scariness
Several suspenseful scenes when characters get too close as they investigate a possible murder. One scary stalking sequence results in a scuffle during which the hero's life is violently threatened. A dog that the audience has come to know is found dead, its neck broken. After a crash and scream are heard, there's talk of possible murder and dismemberment.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Many romantic kisses, embracing, cuddling -- no nudity or actual sexual activity. A ballerina, in scanty clothing obliviously frolics in her apartment as men observe her on numerous occasions. It is implied that a newlywed couple makes love from dawn till dark.
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Products & Purchases
Life Magazine, General Motors.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
As was typical of movies made in the 1950s, there is an easy, unquestioning consumption of alcoholic beverages in various social situations: at dinner, while visiting, at parties, and while relaxing alone. Two minor characters are shown drinking excessively. Several characters smoke.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Rear Window, considered a classic Alfred Hitchcock mystery, reflects the social and ethical values of the 1950s when it was made. Characters drink and smoke frequently; the men often leer at pretty women; and the film is set in an all-white urban neighborhood. The theme of the film, however, has currency. It's about voyeurism -- spying on unaware neighbors, jumping to conclusions about those neighbors, and acting impulsively. One suspenseful scene finds the wheelchair-bound hero in physical jeopardy from an attacker who may be a murderer who dismembered his wife. A dog is found dead with its neck broken. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The tension gets so exquisite in this film that viewers unaware of its reputation might almost miss the cinematic gimmick that made it quite an achievement: it never leaves Jeff's room. Not once. Whole college courses have centered around Rear Window, Alfred Hitchcock's fiendish, compact, and sometimes lighthearted film.The POV outside Jeff's rear window into the other windows is like looking into an array of TV screens (or comic-strip panels), the little New York stories unfolding in each one, often simultaneously (and, yes, that's Ross Bagdassarian, creator of the cartoon characters Alvin & the Chipmunks, as a songwriter).
Throughout his career James Stewart was an a boyishly all-American good guy, though there were a few exceptions, and Hitchcock especially likes to tap into an inner darkness using the wholesome actor. Though he's partially a victim of his disability, Jeff does seem to enjoy being what could be called a "peeping Tom," and there's a question of whether his new pastime of voyeurism is a healthy one or not -- never mind the crime-solving fringe benefits -- and what's the deal with him enjoying looking at strangers, but avoiding intimacy with the beautiful, accommodating Lisa? If wanting to watch makes Jeff some sort of pervert, what does that make us, the audience? We're watching him -- watching them!
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.