Film Review: The Window (1949)

Also known as: The Boy Cried Murder (working title)
Release Date: May 17th, 1949 (Los Angeles premiere)
Directed by: Ted Tetzlaff, Fred Fleck (assistant)
Written by: Mel Dinelli, Cornell Woolrich
Based on: The Boy Cried Murder by Cornell Woolrich
Music by: Roy Webb
Cast: Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy, Paul Stewart, Ruth Roman, Bobby Driscoll

RKO Radio Pictures, 73 Minutes

Review:

“Pop? If you see a thing with your own eyes, it can’t be a dream, can it?” – Tommy Woodry

I can’t believe that guy punched a kid in the face in the back of that taxi! But then again, he was planning to murder the boy anyway.

The Window is a film that I have never heard of until I saw it being featured on TCM’s Noir Alley. I decided to read up on it before seeing it. It didn’t immediately get me excited, as it was a film-noir primarily starring a young boy. Kids typically can’t carry the weight of a picture on their back but the young Bobby Driscoll was absolute magic in this. Truthfully, The Window exceeded my lack of expectations and proved to be a damn fine film.

This is essentially the noir version of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. In fact, the book it was based on was called The Boy Cried Murder.

In this tale, a young boy named Tommy likes to tell tall tales and always finds himself in trouble because of it. Early in the film, the landlord comes to the family’s apartment to show it to prospective tenants, as Tommy told a lie about the family moving and it got back to the landlord. So when Tommy actually witnesses a real murder, while camping out on the fire escape due to a heatwave, his parents don’t believe him. He tells the police, they also don’t believe him. Tommy’s mother then makes Tommy go to the murderers’ apartment to apologize. This tips off the killers to Tommy’s knowledge of their crime and thus, makes Tommy their next target.

This is a film that builds suspense so strong that it is hard to turn away. The film is well constructed and the narrative execution is close to perfection. The stellar performance by the young Bobby Driscoll is the glue that holds this together. Paul Stewart’s evil Joe Kellerson is absolutely chilling and the scene where he breaks into Tommy’s house, when the boy is all alone, is legitimately scary. Kids in the 1940s had to be terrified.

Man, this movie is fantastic. It has shot up my list of favorite film-noir pictures. It is just so different from the norm, took a real risk by putting a child in the forefront but that risk paid off tremendously.

Unfortunately, Bobby Driscoll only had one more hit after this, 1950’s Treasure Island, but his performance here lead to the Academy giving him a miniature Oscar to recognize his great acting skill.

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