"In the old days, they used to put your eyes out with a red-hot poker. Any of those bikini bombshells you’re always watching worth a red-hot poker?"
Description: Thelma Ritter as nurse Stella telling her patient L. B. ‘Jeff’ Jeffries (James Stewart) — whose been peeping into the apartment building windows next-door—that maybe he should mind his own business in the Alfred Hitchcock classic motion picture Rear Window (1954).
"The New York State sentence for a Peeping Tom is six months in the workhouse. And they got no windows in the workhouse." - Stella
L.B. Jeffries broke his leg while photographing an auto race. To stave off boredom as he waits for his leg to heal, Jeffries decides to watch the windows of the apartment building next door for entertainment. Then, one day, he notices that the wife of one of his neighbors (Thorwald) has disappeared. Where did she go? Suddenly, Jeffries has a theory: her husband (Raymond Burr) killed the woman.
|Jeff:||I've seen bickering and family quarrels and mysterious trips at night, and knives and saws and ropes, and now since last evening, not a sign of the wife. How do you explain that?|
|Lisa:||Maybe she died.|
|Jeff:||Where's the doctor? Where's the undertaker?|
Curious about the woman's disappearance, Jeff enlists the help of his high society fashion-consultant girlfriend Lisa Freemont (Grace Kelly) and his visiting nurse Stella to investigate.
As Jeff contemplates his suspicions, he asks Lisa,"Why would a man leave his apartment three times on a rainy night with a suitcase and come back three times?" She answers, "He likes the way his wife welcomes him home?"
Still suspicious, Jeff continues, "I just can't figure it. He went out several times last night in the rain carrying his sample case." Stella offers, "Well, he's a salesman, isn't he?" Jeff counters, "Well, what would he be selling at three o'clock in the morning? And Stella replies, "Flashlights. Luminous dials for watches. House numbers that light up."
When Jeff feels he has enough information to prove his accusations, he calls the authorities and a short time later police Lt. Doyle (Wendell Corey) questions Jeff. "You didn't see the killing or the body. How do you know there was a murder?" Jeff answers, "Because everything this fellow's done has been suspicious: trips at night in the rain, knifes, saws, trunks with rope, and now this wife that isn't there anymore."
"I admit," Doyle ponders, "Does have a mysterious sound. But it could be any number of things for the wife disappearing. Murder is the least part." Frustrated, Jeff replies, "Now, Doyle, don't tell me that he's just an unemployed magician amusing the neighborhood with his sleight of hand. Don't tell me that."
Later, when a woman on a fire escape (Sara Berner) finds her little dog strangled to death, she lashes out at all of her neighbors, sobbing, “You don’t know the meaning of the word ‘neighbor,’ but I can’t imagine any of ya bein’ so low ya’d kill a helpless, friendly dog, the only thing in the whole neighborhood who likes anybody. Did ya kill him because he liked ya?”
Upon hearing the woman's plight, Jeff dials Lt. Doyle and reports, "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."
With suspicions rising, Lisa goes on a snooping expedition to search Thorwald's apartment. As she does, he returns and catches her in the act. Seeing Lisa in trouble, Jeff calls the police who come and arrest her for trespassing. Then Thorvald detects Jeff peering through his apartment window and decides to give the Peeping Tom a visit. Meanwhile, Stella goes to the station to bail Lisa out.
As Thorwald enters Jeff's apartment, Jeff, now all alone, tries to stop the madman's assault by blinding him with the flash of bulbs from his camera. But the blinding flashes do not deter Thorwald from his mission as he grabs Jeff and pushes him out of his apartment window.
Lisa and the police arrive to arrest Thorwald, but not in time to save Jeff from falling to the ground. He sustains another broken leg and even more time in a wheelchair to peep out his window at his neighbors across the way.
In the end, the police learn that Thorwald did kill his wife by chopping her up into pieces and shipping her off in a steamer trunk.