In A. Hitchcock's masterpiece film, Rear Window (1954), Thorwald enters the front door, because it was unlocked. Why would the protagonist keep his door unlocked?


I can think of many reasons:

  • Jeff keeps the door open throughout the movie because he broke his leg and he's immobile. That way visitors could enter easily.

  • He's probably doing this because there are also steps leading up to the door and he can't bolt it himself. (Even if there weren't any stairs, it's still hard to reach it when he's in a wheelchair and his leg is sticking out like that.)

  • Stella leaves the apartment right before Thorwald appears, which is why the door is unlocked in the first place.

  • Jeff didn't go to lock it when she left (or told her to) because the phone rang at that very moment and distracted him, and he had to answer it. He was also too worried about Lisa to think about it right then.

  • It's possible neither Stella nor Jeff thought Thorwald would be so brazen to actually come to Jeff, his own neighbor, and try to kill him after the police has been by.

  • This is a friendly neighborhood in the 50s, where the residents possibly kept their doors unlocked anyway.

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    I'm pretty sure the last option is more likely. When I moved to small town America about 10 years ago, it was still not unheard of to leave your door unlocked. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Oct 30 '17 at 13:34
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    It was a friendly neighborhood, until a killer moved in next door. :) – Barmar Oct 30 '17 at 15:50
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    This is just a question of keeping the door unlocked when someone’s at home, right, not when the apartment’s empty? Assuming so, then this is still normal in plenty of places I’ve lived (moderately good neighbourhoods in the US, Canada, and NW Europe); I wouldn’t think of it as noteworthy in the least. – Peter LeFanu Lumsdaine Oct 31 '17 at 8:42
  • @RoddyoftheFrozenPeas: But wasn't this set in New York City? I don't think New Yorkers regularly left their doors unlocked in the 1950s. For example, the NYC murder rate in the 1950s was higher than it is today (source). – user9668 Sep 18 '18 at 13:13
  • Murder rates are misleading, Kenny, and I say this as a Baltimore native. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Sep 18 '18 at 14:38

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