Secret Window (2004)

 ●  English ● 1 hr 36 mins

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Thrilling and terrifying, this tale of psychological suspense centres around Mort Rainey, a successful writer who is shocked when he finds out about his wife's extramarital affair, to the extent that he has a nervous breakdown. In order to escape the pain and ignominy of a rather unfriendly divorce from his wife of ten years, Amy, he moves to a secluded cabin. Alone and bitter in his cabin, he continues to work on his writing, when a stranger named John Shooter shows up on his doorstep, claiming Rainey's success and fame were all from stolen material, laying on him the accusation of plagiarism. Mort says he can prove the story belongs to him and not Shooter, but while Mort digs around for the magazine which published the story in question years ago, things begin to happen around Shooter. Mort's dog dies, people begin to die, and his divorce proceedings with Amy continue to get uglier. It seems that Shooter has Mort over a barrel, but perhaps Mort has his own ideas on how to resolve all the problems that plague him lately. What is the true identity of John Shooter? Is Mort's life in danger or is he the threat?
See Storyline (May Contain Spoilers)

Cast: John Turturro, Johnny Depp, Maria Bello

Crew: David Koepp (Director), Fred Murphy (Director of Photography), Geoff Zanelli (Music Director), Philip Glass (Music Director)

Genres: Drama, Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Release Dates: 12 Mar 2004 (India)

Tagline: The most important part of a story is the ending.

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Did you know? Mort explains to John Shooter, in his defense, that his story is the original and was published originally in the June 1995 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Ted Milner (Timothy Hutton) tells Mort that he's from a town called Shooters Bay, TN, adding doubt in Mort's mind about Ted's real intentions. Timothy Hutton's father, Jim Hutton, portrayed Ellery Queen (1975) in the 1975 TV series. Ellery Queen himself was the son of a police detective and the writer of mystery novels as well as an amateur detective. Read More
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as John Shooter
as Mort Rainey
as Amy Rainey
Supporting Actor
as Juliet Stoker
Supporting Actress
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actress
as Ted Milner
Supporting Actor


First Assistant Director
Second Assistant Director


Executive Producer



Screenplay Writer
Dialogue Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography
Still Photographer


Music Director
Music Editor


Foley Editor
Sound Re-recording Mixer
Foley Artist
Boom Operator


Art Director
Production Designer
Set Decorator
Prop Master
Storyboard Artist


Costume and Wardrobe

Costume Designer


Assistant Editor

Makeup and Hair

Special Effects Makeup Artist
Makeup Artist

Special Effects

Special Effects Coordinator
Special Effects Technician


Stunt Director
Stunt Coordinator
Stunt Double

Visual Effects

Visual Effects Supervisor
Digital Compositor
Film Type:
Feature Film
Colour Info:
Sound Mix:
Dolby Digital, DTS, Sony Dynamic Digital Sound
Panaflex Millenium XL, Panavision Panaflex
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1
The most important part of a story is the ending.
Some windows should never be opened.
After Mort gets out of his car to confront his wife and her lover at the motel, he closes the car door. It is both heard and can be seen in the rear view mirror. When he returns to leave a moment later, the car door is open.

When Mort's wife starts to leave for his house, she puts her purse on her left shoulder and has the divorce papers in her right. When she is at the door, the papers are in the left hand and the purse on the right.

When Mort finds Tom in the station wagon, initially the window is open. In the next shot it is closed and covered in blood.

After Mort and Amy exit the elevator, the next shot shows them still getting out.

When Mort goes to Ken Karsch's office, Ken hits the button on his clock. The button is on his (Ken's) left. Mort reaches forward and pushes the right button to stop the clock. Later, Ken reaches forward and pushes the right button to start the clock again (this button can't be pushed down; it's already down). After this, the buttons alternate being up and down throughout the scene.

When everyone is sitting in the insurance adjuster's conference room, Mr. Rainey takes a drink of water from a glass that has obvious condensation on the outside. In subsequent shots, the condensation vanishes, reappears, then vanishes again.

When Mort finds Tom in the station wagon he faints. First we see him pitch forwards. Then the camera (from his perspective) pans to the left but we see him land on the ground to his right.

When Mort shoves Ted at the gas station, the car behind Mort has the driver window down and the rear driver window up. In the next shot, however, the rear driver window is down as well.

Crew/Equipment Visible
When the UPS van drives away after delivering the package, camera and crew are reflection in the side of the van.

Crew/Equipment Visible
When Mort and Shooter are talking next to the highway on the path, a cameraman is visible further back on the trail behind Shooter.

Revealing Mistakes
In the scene of Mort at the hotel driving away in his car, he looks in the left hand mirror which has the words "Objects in this mirror are closer than they appear." In actual fact, that label is only on the right hand mirror in cars, and appears to have been applied to the left hand mirror for the movie using a cheap sticker label.

Audio/Video Mismatch
When Mort is steering the truck down the path going into the quarry, Greenleaf slumps forward onto the steering wheel, which causes the horn to sound. As Mort continues to steer on the bumpy road, Greenleaf moves forward and backwards, obviously coming off the steering wheel, yet the horn continues to blow.

After Shooter calls Mort and tells him where to go, we see Mort approaching the van, coming close to the driver's seat window (along with a quick glance of the backseat side window) being clean. However, after seeing Greenleaf and Karsch dead, we see a quick cut to the blood-dirtied door windows, a cut to Mort, then a cut to clean door windows.

Factual Mistake
When Mort's wife tries to escape, she starts her Saab and then struggles to get the manual gear in reverse. This is illogical, as the Saab has its ignition at the gear shifter, incorporating a lock for the shifter. The ignition will always be turned off with reverse engaged, to be able to withdraw the key in these cars.

Mississippi (where Shooter's car is registered) does not require the use of two license plates. However, since Shooter and his car are part of Mort's imagination, they are not required to adhere to real life.

Mort Rainey and his alter ego John Shooter live in a world of psychosis and hallucination, not bound to reality. Continuity is not required. Many of the scenes from his perspective are filled with deliberate continuity errors, some of which serve as clues and foreshadowing.
When Mort's conscience is revealing the real situation to him at the end of the movie, Mort begins to yell, "Rah! Rah! Rah!" Johnny Depp took this from his son, who was pre-verbal and expressed his confusion by saying "Rah!" Depp felt that Mort would be so confused at that point that he would not know what to say to convey what was happening that he would become pre-verbal again.

In the scene where Morton is lurking around the house after hearing a strange noise he is stopped in his bedroom where he thinks John Shooter is In his bathroom. He then runs in swinging a fireplace stick and breaks his mirror. He then realizes his reflection was what he saw in the bathroom hence a foreshadow to the end of the film where It's revealed it was all in his head and that John Shooter was a character Morton created.

James Newton Howard was going to compose with Hans Zimmer, but when he was replaced, Zimmer bowed out as well. Philip Glass and Geoff Zanelli came into the project instead.

Johnny Depp and director David Koepp share the same day of birth.

The DVD Audio Commentary with director David Koepp was recorded on 4 March 2004, before the cinema release.

Shooter's license plate number is CTO 27Q.

Ving Rhames was offered a role but turned it down due to a scheduling conflict.

The movie's premiere date was moved up a month to ride the coat-tails of Johnny Depp's success in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003) which earned him a SAG award and an Oscar nomination.

According to David Koepp on the DVD commentary track, the footage of the ocean scene during Mort's restless night was an extra b-role footage taken from The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)

Mort explains to John Shooter, in his defense, that his story is the original and was published originally in the June 1995 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Ted Milner (Timothy Hutton) tells Mort that he's from a town called Shooters Bay, TN, adding doubt in Mort's mind about Ted's real intentions. Timothy Hutton's father, Jim Hutton, portrayed Ellery Queen (1975) in the 1975 TV series. Ellery Queen himself was the son of a police detective and the writer of mystery novels as well as an amateur detective.

Johnny Depp's character's name is Morton Rainey. Toward the end of the movie, this character purchases three items at the grocer's. One of the items is a box of MORTON's salt whose motto is: "When it rains it pours." Thus Morton Rainey.

Mort looking head on into the mirror and seeing the reflection of the back of his head is a reference to the paintings of Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte, such as "La Reproduction Interdite" (English: "Reproduction Prohibited"). He often depicted a mysterious man in a bowler hat not unlike the hat that Shooter wears.

Johnny Depp's line, "This is not my beautiful house. This is not my beautiful wife. Anymore.", is taken from the Talking Heads' song "Once in a Lifetime".

There are two Sweeney Todds in this film - Johnny Depp who played the murderous barber in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) and Len Cariou who originated the role on Broadway.

John Turturro decided to star in the movie because his son, a big fan of Stephen King, convinced him to.

In the scene where Johnny Depp bursts in on Maria Bello and Timothy Hutton in the Motel; David Koepp wanted Bello and Hutton to look shocked and scared - he made them both lie in the bed for 15 minutes before Depp rushed in. The production crew set up large speakers that blared static noise when the script called for them to be scared. The lights in the room were also rigged to go on when Johnny Depp opened the door, startling the actors further. No one knew exactly how to act.

When Johnny Depp's character drops the hat on his desk, a copy of Hunter S. Thompson's "The Rum Diary" is visible on the table. Depp played in the motion picture version of the book, The Rum Diary (2011) 7 years later.

Stephen King traded the rights to this film in order to get the rights to Kingdom Hospital (2004).