The central character is L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies, played by James Stewart, a famous photographer laid up with a broken leg, following a certain incident. Days wear on at a snail’s pace without the action he’s used to and finding himself at loose ends he starts peeking out the window at his neighbors. There’s nothing better to do, anyways. Ever so astute, always on the lookout for potential scenes to catch on camera, and as time rolls by excruciatingly slowly, he catches sight of something that looks off to him and, in his mind, resembles a murder scene. Being trapped in all day long makes one only so paranoid. That’s what he’s told by Stella (Thelma Ritter), who, apart from gorgeous Lisa Fremont (Grace Kelly), his wife-to-be, is his sole regular visitor.The latter tells him the same thing. She’s trying to have him marry her as he is reluctant on the grounds that they’re such different natures with contrasting interests. All the same, before long they give in and play along with Jeff. It’s either that the man looks and grows more and more suspicious or Jeff’s paranoia is contagious and rubs off on them. Either way, sticking your nose in people’s private lives is quite addictive and they grow intrigued by the goings-on the supposed murderer is seemingly engaged in. They create scenarios and put forth various hypotheses as they deliberate over what it may all be about. Sooner rather than later, the two henchmen go snooping around.
Jeff’s perspective is our perspective and we see the whole story unfolding the exact same way he does. We share in his anxiety, fears, shame of imagining things and then prying into the personal stuff of people unwittingly living in a goldfish bowl and not knowing they are being watched.We are made part of the protagonist and this is where the movie scores a big plus. He becomes gradually more certain that something happened before those closed doors but he has no proof. All he’s got is a wheelchaired paranoid’s imagination and so can’t get the man arrested. Can’t even get the police to search his apartment. Drenched in suspense, the whole movie is build around the questions whether there’s only mere paranoia or something really going on, and if there is something, will the protagonist be able to get on top of it?