Throughout the film, we follow the hero, L.B. Jefferies as he tries to uncover the mystery of the disappearance of his neighbor’s wife, from the confines of his apartment and his wheelchair. As the audience, we explore this world Hitchcock has created and are making discoveries about it as the movie unfolds. As the details of the murder unfold, so does the truth of the woman’s murder.
In this way, Hitchcock creates one form of suspense. For a great portion of the film, Jefferies is the only one who believes the woman was murdered. His cop friend Doyle, doesn’t believe him. Even his girlfriend Lisa doesn’t at first. But what’s really interesting is the one clue that doesn’t prove that Mrs. Thorwald was murdered. It’s the one clue that tears a hole right through Jefferies’ theory..
Earlier in the movie, while Jefferies starts to see that something strange is going on Something happens, that only we, the audience know. Our hero sees, Thorwald leave his apartment multiple times in the night, and the sudden disappearance of the invalid Mrs. Thorwald. We see these things too, which aid in our suspicions on Thorwald.
So what did we see, that he didn’t see?
Well the answer is at about 36 minutes and 13 seconds into the movie…
It’s late at night, and everyone’s presumably asleep, we see Thorwald and a woman dressed in black leave his apartment. The camera pans back into Jefferies’ apartment revealing he’s asleep and didn’t see this occur.
This is the second type of suspense Hitchcock creates. Because it’s the one clue that points out a flaw in Jefferies’ crime solving. The woman could very well have been Mrs. Thorwald, leaving the apartment. And if it wasn’t, who was she?! Possibly it was Thorwald’s mistress (which is heavily suggested later in the film).
Doyle confirms that eyewitnesses saw her leave the next day.
As Jefferies says, “A second hand version of an unsupported story from the murderer himself.”
One of the greatest mysteries of Rear Window.
Who is the Woman in Black?!