According to actress Georgine Darcy, who played the character Miss Torso, the scene in 1954’s “Rear Window” where the man and woman on the fire escape struggle in their attempt to get in out of the rain can be attributed to a prank by director Alfred Hitchcock.
First of all, understand the entire film was shot on one set, which required months of planning and construction. The apartment-courtyard set measured 98 feet wide, 185 feet long and 40 feet high, and consisted of 31 apartments, eight of which were completely furnished while the courtyard was set 20 to 30 feet below stage level. Even more amazing, some of the buildings were the equivalent of five or six stories high.
Back on subject, Hitchcock worked only from the apartment set of the main character L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies (Played by James Stewart) while the actors in other apartments wore flesh-colored earpieces so that he could radio his directions to them. And that is how the calamity happened.
See, Hitchcock told the man to pull the mattress in one direction and told the woman to pull in the opposite direction. Unaware that they had received conflicting directions, the couple began to fight and struggle to get the mattress inside once the crew began filming the scene. The resulting mayhem in which one of the couple is tossed inside the window with the mattress provided humor and a sense of authenticity to the scene which Hitchcock was so pleased that he did not order another take. Course he wasn’t the only one having one.
During the month-long shoot of “Rear Window”, Darcy actually “lived” in her apartment set all day, relaxing between takes as if really at home. She had a ball of a time too because Hitchcock gave Darcy free range to choreograph her own dance moves for her character so Darcy was to dance on her own volition during filming. Hitchcock’s only restriction was that he forbade her to take professional dance lessons. This was because he wanted her to maintain the imprecision of an amateur dancer.
I feel I could write a whole week of Movie Facts on the “Rear Window” and I just might so don’t be surprised if I return to the film tomorrow and for a few days. I promise, what you learn about this magnificent film, hailed as one of Hitchcock’s best, will be worth learning. It is a marvel of technical and professional achievement.