Windows (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Gordon Willis
Produced by Mike Lobell
Written by Barry Siegel
Starring Talia Shire
Joseph Cortese
Elizabeth Ashley
Kay Medford
Russell Horton
Michael Lipton
Ron Ryan
Linda Gillin
Rick Petrucelli
Music by Ennio Morricone
Cinematography Gordon Willis
Edited by Barry Malkin
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
January 18, 1980
Running time
95 minutes
Language English
Box office $2,128,395

Windows is a 1980 erotic thriller film starring Talia Shire, Joseph Cortese and Elizabeth Ashley, directed by Gordon Willis.


Willis was the cinematographer of some of the most acclaimed films of the 1970s, among them The Godfather (and its sequel, The Godfather Part II), All the President's Men, Annie Hall and others. This would be his only attempt at directing a movie.


Emily Hollander (Shire) is the subject of a lesbian obsession of Andrea Glassen (Ashley), her next-door neighbor.

Emily, a shy, recently divorced woman, lives alone in a New York apartment. A man forces his way into her apartment and performs a bizarre "rape." He forces her to make sounds of erotic satisfaction, capturing them on his tape recorder. She reports the attack to the police, and while they are interviewing her, Andrea stops by to comfort her.

Emily seeks safety by moving to an apartment in another section of the city. However, while she is moving out, the same man tries to attack her again. This time Andrea conveniently passes by, and is able to prevent the man from entering Emily's apartment.

It becomes apparent that Andrea is not the helpful neighbor that she seems. For starters, she has the recording that was made during Emily's first attack. Andrea has developed an erotic fascination with Emily, apparently developed as she observed Emily through the apartment's windows. She hired a taxi driver to perform the attacks, with the purpose of gaining the recording, to which she repeatedly listens while fantasizing of Emily. Unaware of the situation, Emily continues to view Andrea as a friend. She also begins a relationship with the policeman (Cortese) who responded to her case. At this intrusion into her fantasy, Andrea becomes increasingly unhinged. She takes to spying on Emily through a telescope.

When Emily unwittingly hails a taxi driven by the very man who assaulted her, he strikes up a conversation "because you look familiar." She finally realizes who the man is and asks him to stop at a phone booth. She calls the police, who, amazingly, advise her to get back into the taxi and engage the man in harmless conversation until they can arrive to assist her.

With the taxi driver getting arrested and confessing to the entire plot, Emily and Andrea have a confrontation. Andrea professes her love for Emily, but Emily slaps her hard on the face and tells a devastated, weeping Andrea that they will never speak to each other again. Her ordeal over, Emily greets the detective at her front door.


Main cast[edit]

Supporting cast[edit]

  • Bryce Bond as Voice-over
  • Ken Chapin as Renting Agent
  • Marty Greene as Ira
  • Bill Handy as Desk Officer
  • Robert Hodge as Desk Sergeant
  • Kyle Scott Jackson as Detective
  • Pat McNamara as Doorman
  • Gerry Vichi as Ben
  • Ilana Rapp as Student (uncredited)


The film was the subject of many protests from gay rights activists who accused the film of being homophobic and resorting to hateful stereotypes of lesbians.[1] David Denby attacked the film, saying "Windows exists only in the perverted fantasies of men who hate lesbians so much they will concoct any idiocy in order to slander them."[2]

Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert selected the film as one of their "dogs of the year" in a 1980 episode of Sneak Previews.[3]

Gordon Willis admitted the film had been a mistake,[4][5] and later said of directing that he didn't really like it. "I've had a good relationship with actors," he reflected, "but I can do what I do and back off. I don't want that much romancing. I don't want them to call me up at two in the morning saying, 'I don't know who I am'".[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref
1980 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Picture Mike Lobell Nominated [7]
Worst Screenplay Barry Siegel Nominated [7]
Worst Actress Talia Shire Nominated [7]
Worst Supporting Actress Elizabeth Ashley Nominated [7]
Worst Director Gordon Willis Nominated [7]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ The celluloid closet
  2. ^ Kendall R. Phillips, Controversial Cinema: The Films That Outraged America. ABC-CLIO, 2008. ISBN 1567207243, p. 35
  3. ^ Sneak Previews: Worst of 1980
  4. ^ Feeney, Mark. "A Study in Contrasts", The Boston Globe, 14 January 2007
  5. ^ Quoted on NPR affiliate Retrieved 4 March 2011
  6. ^ Peary, Gerald. "Gerald Peary: Gordon Willis", Boston Phoenix, August 2003. Retrieved 4 March 2011
  7. ^ a b c d e "First Annual RAZZIE® Awards (For 1980)". March 31, 1981. Retrieved August 7, 2015.