In the movie Rear Window the audience watches the hero watch his neighbors.
Freelance photographer L. B. Jeffries (James Stewart) is in a wheelchair and housebound while waiting for his broken leg to heal. His only visitors are his girlfriend Lisa Freemont (Grace Kelly)and his unsympathetic, wisecracking nurse Stella played by wonderful Thelma Ritter.
With nothing to do and limited visitors Jeffries spends his time looking out of his apartment rear window and into the windows of his neighbors. As he looks, he finds himself drawn into their lives. The woman who nags her traveling salesman husband, the newlyweds who keep their window shade down at all times except when they occasionally come up for air; the beautiful young ballet dancer who practices everyday, the unsuccessful composer, the older couple with the little dog who does nothing but bark and middle-aged woman Jeffries has dubbed "Miss Lonelyhearts." Miss Lonelyhearts lives alone but sets her dinner table for two and holds conversations with her make imaginary lover.
When Jeffries relates the daily goings on to his girlfriend Lisa, she chastises him for being a voyeur and invading his neighbors privacy. Jeffries nurse Stella notes that "We've become a race of Peeping Toms. What people ought to do is get outside their own house and look in for a change." Nevertheless Jeffries continues watch. He now uses his binoculars and his always by his side camera. Then he notices that the salesman's nagging wife is not only quiet but absent from the scene. What happened to her? Jeffries watches the salesman as he appears to cautiously leave his apartment in the middle of the night. Why is he sneaking out of his own home? Why is the salesman cleaning knives and a saw, what where they used for? What was in the trunk that he had shipped? Jeffries is convinced that the salesman has killed his wife. He sets out to prove it. He enlists the help of a friend, Thomas Doyle (Wendall Corey) who is a lieutenant in the police department. Jeffries also believes that the salesman, Lars Thorwald (Raymond Burr) has killed his neighbors small dog because the dog was digging in the garden for something that the salesman had buried. He wants Doyle to investigate even there is no evidence that this is true.
As with all Alfred Hitchcock movies, you can always find humor just below the surface. In Rear Window Jeffries says, "He killed a dog last night because the dog was scratching around in the garden. You know why? Because he had something buried in that garden that the dog scented." Doyles response is "Like an old hambone?" Jefferies says "I don't know what pet names Thorwald had for his wife."
When Jeffries can't get help from Doyle he persuades Lisa and Stella to help him get some answers. They dig in Thorwald's garden and break into his home. It doesn't matter how often you watch this film you still hold your breath and want to shout "get out, get out", when Lisa is searching Thorwald's apartment and he walks in. This is good stuff. You can never see Rear Window too many times. It is available from Amazon