Filling an entire soundstage, this model of Manderley was one of the largest miniatures ever built up till that time. Later, Hitch's skyline for Rope consisted of a 12,000 square cyclorama (the largest ever built, so he claimed), and the courtyard in Rear Window remains one of the largest indoor sets ever built. (Click to enlarge.)
Rear Window, Modern Panopticon
“Whereas the theater [(and cinema, I’d add)] directs the gaze of many onlookers to the single focal point of the stage, the panopticon inverts this logic.... The space of Rear Window adopts the imaginary form of a cone whose apex is constituted by Jeffries’ living room.”
“an allegory of the process of normalization and discipline of modernity,... [for] ‘every cage [in the panopticon] is a small theater in which the actor is alone, perfectly individualized and permanently visible.’... Foucault noted that, consequently, the visual logic of the spectacle is turned upside down. Instead of exposing some individual bodies to a community [as in traditional theater], the panoptic courtyard of Rear Window provides the lonely surveyor [Jeffries, in this case, but anyone, really] with an overview of many separated individuals.”As such, Jefferies assumes the position of almost god-like omniscience, which he clearly relishes and uses to his advantage to try to ensnare the killer Thorwald.
With its messy yards and ad hoc living arrangements, this space presumably contrasts with the view from its front windows, which are probably much cleaner and more formal. More public. (It's hard to imagine that couple sleeping on a street-side fire escape.) In the semi-privacy of these rear windows, however, the inhabitants take more casual liberties with their shades open than they probably would in their front rooms. Writes Jacobs, “It is a delicate social balance based on the collective use of spaces and on implicit rules of conduct between neighbors.” Thus, Miss Torso changes her clothes in full view of her neighbors, but turns her back so that no one sees the front of her bra come off. Her behavior is the perfect bookend to Hitch’s observation regarding voyeurism: “Everybody is doing it. It's a known fact, providing you don't make it too vulgar, keeping it to a point of curiosity.”
It’s hard to imagine that insights like this could be supplied by a film studies academic. (For one thing, the writing would be more abstruse. Jacobs keeps it simple.) This topic demands expertise that’s usually outside of their professional scope. Jacobs’ resume is a bit different. He’s an art historian first, specializing in “photographic and cinematic representations of architecture, cities and landscapes.” As such, he was ready-made to write this book.
 Now to mention the first 60 episodes of Perry Mason and about 350 additional movies! Wheeler is a forgotten name by most, but among those in the know, he's called the Dean of Art Directors.
 Published in “After Hitchcock: Influence, Imitation and Intertextuality,” 2006.
 Published in "Hitchcock's Rear Window," 2000