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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"THE BOY CRIED ' WOLF' 'WOLF' SEVERAL TIMES AND EACH TIME THE PEOPLE
CAME TO HELP HIM THEY FOUND THERE WASN'T ANY 'WOLF' ".
RKO certainly lived up to its reputation as the finest creators of Film Noir with this taut and suspenseful thriller made in 1947. Held back, for some reason, by Howard Hughes until a 1949 release THE WINDOW was based on a story by Cornell Woolrich that became a splendid screenplay by Mel Dinelli. Photographed in stunning crisp Monochrome by William Steiner it was directed with unrivaled regard to tension and impact by Ted Tetzlaff. With no marquee names to speak of and costing a modest sum to produce on the streets of New York's Lower East Side the picture was a great success with both critics and public alike.
The story of THE WINDOW concerns a 10 year boy Tommy Woodry (Bobby Driscoll) who just loves to spin yarns and tell tall tales. He lives in a modest apartment with his parents (Arthur Kennedy and Barbara Hale) in the lower East Side of New York city where his playground is the dilapidated tenements that surround him. One warm night he awakens and because of the heat takes his pillow out on to the fire escape to sleep. Here he witnesses a murder under the window shade of an adjoining apartment. But being the great story teller he is no one will believe him. No one, that is, except the killers themselves (Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman) who now must find a way to silence the boy. From here on the film never lets up. It becomes a white knuckle ride as Tommy tries to escape the killers clutches down alley ways and across the dodgy rooftops of dangerous tenements. The picture ends with one of the killers falling to his death and Tommy being reunited with his parents who finally believe him. Now he makes a solemn promise never to cry 'Wolf' again.
Adding greatly to the thrills is the marvellous music score by RKO's Noir composer in residence Roy Webb. With a terrific main theme, heard in its broadest form under the titles, there is also some splendid eerie music for the stalking scenes and exciting action cues for the chase sequences.
But there is little doubt that the film is held tightly together and dominated by the outstanding central performance from the ill-fated 10 year old Bobby Driscoll. You simply cannot take your eyes off him. An amazing little actor, it is a great shame he never got to have a full career in film. But it was never to be! Fate had other plans for him. He was to be plagued with bad luck for the rest of his days. First he suffered with severe acne in his teens which halted his film career. Then he was arrested and sent to jail on drugs charges. When he was released his reputation proceeded him and he was unemployable in Hollywood. Later he made a couple of stabs at supporting roles in films of no repute. But he never regained even the slightest spark of his childhood genius. With his career virtually over he became a drug abuser again. In 1968 - and ironically in the same setting as his greatest success in the film THE WINDOW - two children playing found his dead body in a derelict tenement in New York's Lower East Side. He was only 31 years old. It is quite inconceivable that for someone who had demonstrated such a mighty talent should finish up unknown, unclaimed and sadly come to be buried in a pauper's grave on Hart Island.
The central figure of 'The Window' was a slum ten-year-old boy (Bobby
Driscoll), living in New York poor neighborhood and known to everyone
there as a teller of fantastic stories
His parents (Arthur Kennedy and Barbara Hale) warned him he must stop his fantasies and what followed was a classic up-dating of the boy who cried 'wolf' once too often
One stifling night, the boy climbed out on to a fire escape to seek cool air and, through a crack under a window blind, he witnessed a murder
He knew no one would believe him although this time, for the first time, his story was true He tried to tell his mother that he had seen a couple called Kellerson trying to rob a drunk and killing him in a fight: the boy got scolded for his imagination and sent to bed His father locked him in for punishment; the boy escaped and took his story to the police station. A detective investigated, but could find no body, no signs of a struggle
Now the awful irony: the guilty Kellersons learn through the detective that the boy had seen them committing the crime, and the boy's parents, with terrifyingly understandable logic, send the boy to the killers to apologize 'for spreading such an awful story about them'.
The Kellersons cannot decide: should they leave well alone, as nobody believes the boy; or should they commit another crime to cover the first?
'The Window' is a classic little second feature, entertaining and suspenseful; unfortunately it had few successful imitators
Bobby Driscoll is not a name familiar to most people, unless they are
die-hard classic movie fans. Driscoll's career was short, but that
wasn't because he couldn't act. This movie shows his talents as a young
boy who cries wolf and then pays for it, big-time.
The first 40 minutes of this film deals with that "wolf" angle. It goes a bit too long and begins to drag the story down a bit, but stay with it. Once the killers come looking for the boy (Driscoll), the film suddenly becomes extremely tense. In fact, the tension is so strong the last 30 minutes that there are scenes you almost can't bear to watch.
Story-wise, there are some credibility questions, mainly "Why would good parents - as portrayed here by Barbara Hale and Arthur Kennedy - leave their 10-year-old all alone all night?" But, ignoring that, the film is entertaining and has a good ending, so I have no complaints.
Driscoll does a fine job of acting, as mentioned, and Hale became famous for being Perry Mason's secretary on television. Kennedy is always interesting no matter what film he is in, and Paul Stewart is effective as the villain.
As of this writing, the VHS tape is out-of-print, and there is no DVD available yet, sad to say. Hopefully, that oversight will be corrected soon. This film is a valuable part of anyone's film noir collection.
The theme of a murder being witnessed by someone who no one believes, is based on the familiar concept of "cry wolf once too often and no one will believe you when you're telling the truth". Here it's played to the nth degree by an excellent cast--Bobby Driscoll, Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy, Ruth Roman and Paul Stewart--and directed in realistic, gritty style by Ted Tetzlaff. The New York tenement setting is an absorbing environment for this chilling tale of a boy who is in danger when the murderers know they have been seen--and must come to grips with his situation without the aid of his parents or police. Based on a Cornell Woolrich story, it's so tight and suspenseful for the length of its running time that it effectively projects the dark, nightmare world where one's worst childhood fears can come true. With the dark ambiance of lower East Side tenaments as its setting, danger and death seem to entrap the boy in every lurking shadow until his ultimate pursuit by the killers. This is a modest thriller that achieves a maximum of suspense thanks to the skillful performance by child star Bobby Driscoll and bears a resemblance to other Woolrich stories, as for example 'Rear Window'. Barbara Hale and Arthur Kennedy register strongly as the parents. Ruth Roman and Paul Stewart are a chilly pair as the neighbors from hell.
"The Window" is a rich and underrated tale of urban terror from a ten-year-old's perspective. Tommy Woodry is jolted from his innocent world of make believe games when he witnesses a murder in the middle of the night. Making the terror all the worse is that the murderers are his upstairs neighbors, the Kellertons, and neither the police nor his parents will believe his story. The terror grows darker when Tommy's only protection, his parents, leave for the night because of shift work and family illness. The music and lighting brilliantly reflect the evil that begins with nightfall and the removal of his parents. When the Kellertons kidnap Tommy, even pretending to be his parents to fool the police, bad "parents" replace the good ones. "The Window", in a way, is the opposite of the classic "These Three" of thirteen years earlier. In the latter, the lies of a young girl (Bonita Granville) regarding adult wrongdoing are believed without reservation, with swift and devastating consequences. "The Window" also nicely showcases the hard life of the working class in 1949: the only telephone is at the drug store and the apartments are cramped and dilapidated with no modern appliances. Paul Stewart, as Joe Kellerton, plays his villainous role with a cool, almost smug arrogance, while Bobby Driscoll, as Tommy, expertly handles the role of an innocent child drawn into the gritty ugliness of urban violence. The movie maintains a fast pace, with total suspense all the way to the nail-biting end, and every second of it is worth watching.
While this film noir is listed as unavailable on DVD, I took a chance and purchased a "collector's" DVD copy on ebay, something I didn't condone until I realized that some of these old films will never be released and only exist as public domain property in 16mm prints. That being said, I watched "The Window" on an unlabeled DVD-R copy and was very impressed with the quality of both the audio and video. I've purchased other "legit" releases only to find the packaging far superior in quality to the program. "The Window" features a very plausible plot set in a run down urban neighborhood full of tenements and condemned buildings. A nine-year old boy with a vivid imagination and a reputation for telling tall tales, witnesses a murder by his upstairs neighbors while sleeping on the fire escape one sweltering summer night. After going to his dismissing parents, then to the police without their consent, he is sent on his way into a nightmarish experience. The suspenseful sequences are masterfully paced, and there really isn't a slow moment in the film. I would definitely buy this film if, one day, it's released in commercial packaging. Tense, taut and brilliantly done on the obviously low budget.
First saw this nail-biter when I was a kid. It still holds up. Based on a Cornell Woolrich story (as was REAR WINDOW), this one boasts some of the most stunning cinematography I've ever seen. Director Tetzlaff, himself a cinematographer of considerable skill (he shot Alfred Hitchcock's NOTORIOUS), milks this one for all it's worth. Bobby Driscoll (the kid underground comix artist Robert Crumb reveals his brother fell in love with in the documentary CRUMB) never once wavers under the camera's close scrutiny: his must be one of the greatest performances EVER by a kid in a feature film. In fact, it's his performance that carries the film. Paul Stewart is as creepy as they come; his performance, as good as it is, perfectly compliments the low-key desperation of young Driscoll. Absolutely must-see moviemaking.
I first saw this film when I was ten. The same age as the terrified young star "Tommy" of the film. I sat on the edge of my seat, glued to the screen as every second of suspense ticked away. A masterpiece to rival even the best of the great Hitchcock Thrillers! I have never seen it released on video, but would be the first to run out and buy it. If it turns up on AMC, DON'T MISS IT!
While 1949s "The Window" may not be a noir classic many have heard about I
strongly recommend seeing it if you can find it. (It is occasionally on
but it is not currently available on DVD or VHS.)
The film stars child protege Bobby Driscoll ("Song's of the South" "Peter Pan") as a young boy who is living the Aesopian nightmare of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." His parents are portrayed the ever capable Arthur Kennedy ("Champion" "High Sierra") and Barbara Hale ("Perry Mason.") After the boy witnesses a murder his parents and the foolish police department refuse to beleive him until it is almost too late.
The murderers are also well-played by veterans Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman (who also were in 1949s "Champion" with Arthur Kennedy and Kirk Douglas.) The husband and wife would have gotten away with murder if at not been for the young boy, . The ensuing chase and scary finale are very well done. The police in this movie were so ignorant you would wonder if they did not inspire the moron cop, Officer Barbrady on "South Park."
This fine film was actually considered to be a throwaway "B" movie. It turned out to be quite popular even though it only runs for 73 minutes. The young actor, Bobby Driscoll received a special Oscar for his work in 1949 but soon found his acting career drying up as he aged and his life ended tragically from drug related issues in 1968 at the age of 31.
Late-night tv sometimes throws up some high quality gems. The Window is
of them. And before you go saying ''aww! but this movie is old and in b&w,
bet it's awful!" STOP. Take a step back. This movie is
9 year old Tommy Woodry (Bobby Driscoll) is a lying little git. Always telling lies and making up stories. It's gotten to the point where no-one believes a word he says anymore, not even his own parents.
Tommy's world is about to come crashing down around him after he is witness to a murder in the apartment above his one night. The problem is, Tommy knows the truth, no-one believe's him and to make matters worse the Kellerton family upstairs (the murderer's) find out that Tommy knows what happened and want him silenced.
I swear to god, this movie was so harsh. Harsh in the sense that for a movie thats well over 50 years old now - taken in it's original form without modern day conception - this is one violent movie. One guy gets beaten to near death then is finished off getting stabbed to death with a pair of scissors in front of a kid. The Kellerton's kidnap Tommy and in one scene Joe Kellerton (Paul Stewart) punches the little boy in the face about three times then drugs him with chlorophyl!! Another point to add, this movie is actually banned in Finland! This movie must have genuinely shocked it's original audience when it was first shown back in 1949.
This is a dark movie; very eerie and some scenes mount incredible depths of tension. The acting is superb and the camerawork doubly so.
If your a true movie fan and are happy to watch any movie no matter the age, you'll love this. It's a real treat and i'm glad i caught this one on tv. Special mention goes out to fellow IMDB user Bob The Moo, who supplied me with a VHS edition! Now to track down the DVD...
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