Learning English With Films – Rear Window (1954)

Image result for rear window

Director – Alfred Hitchcock

Year – 1954

Genre – Thriller/ Mystery

Country – America



A man with a broken leg is stuck in his apartment for weeks. He entertains himself by spying in his neighbours’ windows. But then he accidentally sees something that looks like a murder….


  • Jeff (Jimmy Stewart) – A succesful photographer who must wait in his apartment for several weeks while his broken leg heals.


  • Lisa (Grace Kelly) – Jeff’s rich, beautiful and intelligent girlfriend. She wants to marry him, but he doesn’t want to marry her (for some reason).


  • Stella (Thelma Ritter) – Jeff’s nurse.

Jeff’s Neighbours:

  • Miss Lonelyhearts – A lonely older woman who is desperate for love and romance.


  • Miss Torso – An attractive ballerina who often practices her dancing in her underwear.

Torso (noun) – the middle part of a person’s body. (In this context, a woman’s breasts.)

E.g – “Robert felt a sharp pain across his torso.”

Synomyns: chest, upper body.


  • Mr. and Mrs. Thorwald – A married couple who fight often.


  • The Musician – A piano player who plays beatifully, but often becomes frustrated with his work.


  • The Newlyweds – A young married couple who…have a lot of sex. A lot.

Newlyweds (noun) – a couple who have recently gotten married.


Image result for rear window set


Jeff (on the phone, to his editor): “If you don’t pull me out of this swamp of boredom, I’m gonna do something drastic. I’m going to get married and then I’ll never be able to go anywhere!”

  • Swamp (noun) – An area of low ground where water collects.

E.g – “There are many swamps near the Amazon river, because the land is so wet there.”

Synonyms: marsh, bog, quagmire.


  • Drastic (adjective) – an extreme action that will have consequences/effects for a long time.

E.g – “It was a drastic mistake when Paul fired all his employees.”

Synonyms: desperate, radical, extreme.



Jeff’s Editor: “Wives don’t nag, they discuss.” 

  • to nag (verb) – to annoy someone by criticing them or asking them to do something repeatedly and very often.

E.g “Sarah’s mother is always nagging her to clean her room.”

Synonyms: to harass someone, to harry someone, to badger someone.



Jeff: I wonder if it is ethical to watch a man with binoculars and a long-focus lens. Do you suppose it’s ethical even if you prove that he didn’t commit a crime?


  • ethical (adjective) – describes something morally correct – the right thing to do.

E.g – “Is it ethical to steal a loaf of bread if you use it to feed your starving family?”

Synonyms: right, moral.


  • to commit a crime (verb) – to do/perform something against the law.

E.g – “If you rob a bank, you are commiting a crime.”

Synonyms: to perpetrate a crime, to pull off a crime.


  • A long-focus lens (noun) – the part of a camera used for looking at far-away things.

Image result for a long focus-lens




Lisa:  “Where does a man get inspiration to write a song like that?”

Jeff: “He gets it from the landlady once a month.”


  • Inspiration (noun) – something that gives you an idea, especially an idea for creative work.

E.g – “Christopher Nolan’s reading about space-travel was the inspiration for his film Interstellar.”

Synonyms: muse, influence, model.


  • Landlady (noun) – the woman who owns an aparment or house that you rent – the woman who you must pay rent money to every month.

E.g “My last landlady was terrible. She kicked me out of my apartment in the middle of the night!”

Synonyms: Property Owner, Landowner, Lessor.

Image result for rear window


Film Club Questions:

1. Do Jeff and Lisa have a good relationship? Should they stay together?

2. How would this story be different if it was set in the modern day?

3. Did you have some favourite shots or scenes?

4. Did the main characters or the neighbours remind you of anyone you know?

5. Can you think of some other films that only take place in one location/ area?

6. How does Hitchcock connect Jeff’s camera and perspective to the film camera and the viewer’s perspective? What is the effect?

7.  What do you think of the film’s female characters, and how they are shown?



English Den:

Experienced, qualified and professional English teacher working in Warsaw, Poland.

Interested in pop culture, and using pop culture to teach languages.

Available for private or in-business classes.

International classes also available on Skype.

Contact Cian.shep@gmail.com for further information.



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