Lars Thorwald, as played by Raymond Burr is undoubtedly one of the most iconic film villains of all time. Besides the great acting on the part of Burr, the direction of the great Alfred Hitchcock definitely marks his performance in the film “Rear Window” as one of the greats. But when one carefully analyzes what the film presents us as an audience, a truth becomes clear: This is a villain that we virtually know NOTHING about.
We know he’s a salesman, and that he killed his wife. And that based on the witnesses Lt. Doyle mentions to Jefferies, that Thorwald possibly did it because he was seeing another woman behind his wife’s back. But there are other things the viewer should consider.
Remember, that Jefferies may be the film’s hero, played by the beloved James Stewart. But he is far from an honest character. He alienates himself from his girlfriend constantly, and tries to distance himself from her by keeping her “outside his world” which has shrunken to his apartment. He is a photographer, he traveled the world a lot. He views each neighbor as an extention of himself. The piano player is Jefferies enveloped in his work. Miss Lonely Hearts is Jefferies if he ends up alone. Thorwald and his wife are mirror images of Jefferies and Lisa. He sees that Thorwald is frustrated with taking care of his wife and projected their situation onto him and Lisa. This sympathy for Mrs. Thorwald stems from the seeing her like himself, sick and immobile. Jefferies is a hero who projects the restrictions of his situation on everyone around him.
Essentially, Hitchcock has tricked us into rooting for a peeping tom who got lucky and caught a bad guy. If more of Thorwald’s background were presented, it’s quite possible that Thorwald might appear more morally inclined than Jefferies.
We’re given no background to the state of Thorwald’s marriage. Aside from the fact that his wife is an ill woman who needs care, and he obviously does. One factor of their relationship that is shown once, but not again. Is a shot of Mrs. Thorwald laughing hysterically at her husband. He doesn’t appear to be amused at all. While this is never addressed again, either by the story or the observations of Jefferies it does hint at a possible clue of Thorwald’s motives. Perhaps he was being emotionally abused by the woman he tried to care for.
If Lars Thorwald really was an abuse victim who sought comfort from another woman, it might show a small bit of sympathy in his actions. Thorwald wouldn’t be the devil, he would be a desperate man who killed his wife (maybe accidentally for all we know). And tried to get rid of all the evidence he could. Besides the implied gruesome method of disposing of the body, and the killing of the neighbor’s dog, these seem more like the actions of someone who’s terrible at discretion.
In his final confrontation with Jefferies in Jefferies’ apartment, the only scene where Thorwald actually speaks, it should be noted that he doesn’t threaten Jefferies first. He assumes Jefferies is trying to blackmail him, inquiring that he has no money. He only attacks Jefferies when Jefferies makes it clear that the final piece of evidence, his wife’s ring, is bringing Doyle and the police after him.
That fact the no further details of Thorwald’s past are ever explored is the only real reason that he is classified as a villain, and Jefferies it could be argued, is only a hero because his habit of invading the privacy of his neighbors was just the lesser of two evils.
After the accidental transformation of Andre and the fly’s atoms getting mixed in the teleporter, rather than being played by a stunt man (which is logical since the role becomes nonverbal) the actor David Hedison was fitted by a specially designed mask fitted for his head. That actually is Hedison playing the transformed scientist. It was designed by makeup artist Ben Nye, who also designed the Ape makeup in the Planet of the Apes screen test with Edward G. Robinson.
Throughout the film, even in the very beginning of her character’s introduction, Eglantine Price. Like many other British at that time during the Blitz, she is very passionate about the war effort and about defeating Germany. As well as defending her home country of Great Britain. The only difference between her, and your “normal civilian” is that our character Miss Price chooses to use …..witchcraft.
Because could there have been something deeper, more personal, hidden in the motivations of Miss Price? Why was she so eager to help in a way that obviously nobody else could? The answer can actually be given with a few very subtle clues in a few scenes.
Firstly, in the scene when Miss Price is first introduced to us, General Teagler, of the old home guard mentions to the captain from HQ that he once served with Miss Price’s late father. Telling us that Price’s father was in the military.
Secondly, in the scene where Miss Price shows the children the room in which they can sleep in at her house (her father’s old room). You can clearly see a portrait of her father on the wall in military uniform. Also if you look more carefully in the room you will see her fathers officer’s saber, as well as a World War I era style British helmet.
Miss Price later dons these in the final battle against the Germans while flying her broomstick.
The theory is this;
That her father was an officer during World War I. You have to be a little bit more familiar with British history in that particular era. As a result of World War I, the British lost what many were considered to be an entire generation of people. Leaving many victims, family members, even survivors with extreme emotional as well as some physical trauma.
So if Miss Price’s father was a survivor during World War I, he may have been suffering from some form of survivor’s guilt. Many mental issues and even going into dangerous habits such as drug addiction were unfortunately very common for survivors of the battlefront. It’s possible that Miss Price, in the last years of her father’s life, slowly saw the man that she loved and respected turn into somebody that she didn’t even know.
This may also explain her attitude as the film begins in learning her witchcraft, about how reluctant she is to kind of open up to other people in this case the children that have been sent to stay with her.
For the second film, Christopher Reeve and Marlon Brando shot one scene together in person. The scene was later cut, but restored on the 2006 DVD release of “Superman 2: The Richard Donner Cut”.
Everybody going into the project knew Marlon Brando would get top billing, as he was well known, and Reeve was basically an unknown at the time.
According to an interview with Christopher Reeve, Brando took him aside one day on set and said, “Kid, I may get top billing on this, but this is YOUR movie. Take it!”
This shot, from early in the film, gives away the identity of which of the main characters was a “rat” for the cops. Just look at the background.