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|Index||61 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sunday June 11, 4:00pm The Egyptian
'The Window', written by Noir master Cornell Woolrich, takes place in the sweltering heat of a New York summer. When Tommy Woodry (Bobby Driscoll) witnesses the brutal murder of a man by his upstairs neighbors as he tries to sleep on their fire escape, no one will believe him. Tommy has a long history of telling tall tales. " Stories? What kind of stories?" His parents Mary (Barbara Hale) and Ed (Arthur Kennedy) punish him for lying but he runs away to tell the police who also discount his story. When his murderous neighbors get wind, things take a frightening turn. Sensational camera work by Robert De Grasse makes brilliant use of the dark, forbidding stairwells and unseen corners of the apartment building and nearby derelicts to create a delightfully sinister mood. One scene in which Tommy's mother forces him to apologize to the killers for lying is particularly frightening.
I loved this film, i watched it by chance late at night and had never seen anything like it. The small boy is brilliant and the enclosed community where it is set is brilliant and creepy. It was one of those films where you don't want to blink as it is truly unpredictable, the most gripping film i have ever seen and incredibly scary. The film is only about an hour long and this adds to the tension, scenes are not prolonged and suspicion and fear are created with a fast pace, and an urgency and despair of the boy. This is a film worth watching as it is different from the big budget, special effects thrillers. it creates fear through the intensity of the boy and his parents fear of his sanity.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Although this little psychological thriller apparently didn't impress
then new RKO boss Howard Hughes, who shelved it, the public took it to
heart when released 2 years later.
And for good reason: this noir piece managed to stir up quite a bit of steam during its brief running time. Thanks to talented child actor Bobby Driscoll, "The Window" becomes an engrossing yarn.
With Arthur Kennedy, Paul Stewart, Ruth Roman and Barbara Hale lending their strong supports, there's a good suspense tale that unfolds.
If screenwriter Cornell Woolrich had embellished Mel Dinelli's original story to lend more verbal substance to support the physical action, especially toward the end, it might have been even better.
As it is, it turned into a kind of standard chase thing that we've all seen before. Thus the film earns a "Good" rating. Young Driscoll delivers a solid performance that carries the film convincingly, and well earned his Juvenille "Oscar."
Only problem is there is no mystery in the film. I recently discovered that "The Window" was filmed in New York City in November 1948 when Bobby Driscoll was 10. In the spring of 1948, billionaire Howard Hughes bought RKO Studios. His first action was to fire Studio Head Dore Schary because he was a Hollywood liberal. Schary went to MGM where he succeeded Louis B. Mayer. He enjoyed great success there. His second decision was to shelve "The Window" for being worthless garbage. It had been one of Dore Schary's pet projects. The movie sat on the shelf for nearly two years, finally when the studio was short of films to release, Howard Hughes was talked into releasing "The Window". Instead it became the surprise hit of the year. A B movie, which was supposed to make back expenses and a small profit became a huge top ten hit and RKO's #1 movie of the year. And all the credit went to Bobby Driscoll. His terrifying portrayal of "Tommy Woodry" was one of them most intense ever caught on film: he went on to win an Oscar at the Academy Awards Ceremony at The Pantages Theatre(generously donated for the occasion by Howard Hughes, after the Shrine Auditorium proved to small). Bobby was very convincing as the boy who witnesses a murder but can't get anyone to believe him....except the murderers. Bobby's character is viewed as a teller of tall tales because of his vivid imagination. Tthe one time he tells the unvarnished truth, he is seen as a liar, it that isn't irony, then irony doesn't exist. Cornell Woolrich, the great film noir novelist based the story on "The Boy Who Cried Wolf". Nobody, much less one ten-year-old boy, has ever been more alone than Bobby Driscoll's "Tommy Woodry". More a psychological terror than mystery, "The Window" is as intense a movie as has ever come out of Hollywood. By using a ten-year-old boy's point of view, when that boy is also the object of the murderer's mechanations, Ted Tetzlaff, the film's director, has let his audience into one boy's nightmare. It works brilliantly...
The Woodry family live on a housing tenement made up of several blocks.
Their son, Tommy, has a habit of telling wild stories he has made up and his
parents can't seem to break his habit. One very hot night Tommy sleeps on
the fire escape to try and cool down but hears noises from the apartment
above and looks in their window. He sees Mr and Mrs Kellerton kill a man
and dump his body. Tommy tells his parents but they don't believe him but
when he tells the police the Kellerton's realise they must kill Tommy before
he can tell anyone else.
I taped this film solely because I wanted to see Barbara Hale before she became Perry Mason's secretary Della Street. I knew nothing of the plot but the opening title card telling the story of the boy who cried wolf basically told me everything. Basically you know what's going to happen and you can guess the outline of the ending from the first few scenes. However that didn't seem to matter to me. The film is short and manages to move along at a nice speed without dragging.
The director has done a good job with the lighting etc and the dark streets and corridors all add to the feeling of tension. The black and white was a real nice brown hint to the version I saw and worked a treat in some key scenes. The finale is pretty good even if it holds no real surprises.
It's nice to see Kennedy as a younger man rather than the roles I know him from. Likewise Hale is good in a role unlike her minor turns as Della Street. She looks so very different but when she talks you know instantly who it is. Driscoll is good with some issues. I didn't like his wide-eyed all American boy role, but then that WAS his role! Plus this was the 1950's where that's what child actors did (they still turn out the wide eyed stuff now a bit too often). His range is good even if his `gee shucks mom' performance is grating.
Overall this has no shocks and is pretty predictable. However it is quite well paced and the director manages a good sense of tension and atmosphere in the dark tenement block. A little more plot and explanation would have helped but overall I enjoyed this for the 70 odd minutes it was on.
I saw this movie once, 50 years ago, as a 6-year old in Miami, Florida. It terrified me then and images have stayed with me all this while. It has a great plot--accidental witness to a murder with isolation of the witness (here, because he's a kid) putting him peril. I've wondered whether Hitchcock saw this and adapted the concept for Rear Window. I'd forgotten the name of "The Window" and found it by searching on the term "fire escape"--this archive is quite powerful.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This may be a small movie, but it offers a lot during its less than 75
minutes length. This is truly one of the finest films ever.
This preciousness of cinema deals with the old thematic that we mustn't lie, otherwise we may be telling the truth one day and nobody will believe us. That's precisely what happens to our Tommy Woodry, a very cute and harmless child with the habit of crying wolf (perhaps because he feels lonely and bored?). There's no denying that Tommy is smart and has a very big imagination: the story that he's gonna buy himself a horse, that he's gonna move to a ranch out west but not before shooting indians. Tommy's tall tales always put a grin on my face.
Tommy's lies take his parents to despair. When he witnesses the Kellersons committing a crime, he can't manage to get anyone to believe him. No matter how hard he tries, he can't change his parents's minds. Even the police refuses to believe him.
Although it's understandable that his parents won't believe him, they take such drastic measures on him that they fail miserably to protect him. As for the police, not only they seem unwilling to help him but they even go as far as playing in a situation when he is at the criminals's hands, also failing miserably to protect him. All of this makes you completely hate the police and almost loathe Tommy's parents. Tommy lives this urban nightmare all alone and cannot count on anyone to help him but himself.
Even so, there is nothing I would really change in this movie in any way, except for a slightly longer length and perhaps a little more "action". Nevertheless, it's simply flawless. The plot is excellent, the characters are believable, all the actors are superb, the music is dramatic and adds emotion, the 1940's NYC scenario is amazing, the film is very tense and feels "hitchcockian" and the English is spoken calmly - calm enough to understand most of it, which means the lack of subtitles isn't much of a problem for anyone who knows and understands some English. The pace is always brilliant, both when the movie is more calm and when it is frightening, intense and suspenseful.
A very interesting and fascinating movie. And to think that RKO boss Howard Hughes didn't want to give it a chance at first! We would have lost this pearl of cinema...
Bobby Driscoll is fantastic as Tommy Woodry. Although he was a Disney actor, he was "loaned" to RKO Pictures for this timeless classic. A very clever decision, he was a wonderful actor. I hope he's not just remembered for his work at Disney but also for this noir classic.
Title in Portugal: 'O Que Viram os Meus Olhos'.
I've been wanting to watch this for a couple years now, but since it is
unavailable on DVD or VHS, it was impossible. Thank goodness for Turner
Class Movies! The story is simple. A little boy has a bad habit of
making up wild stories to impress his friends and family. When he's
sleeping out on his fire escape one sweltering summer night, he
witnesses his upstairs neighbors murder a man. When he tells his mother
and father, not surprisingly, they think he's making it all up or that
he's had a bad dream. When the killers upstairs get wind that the
little boy knows about their crime, the decide to kill him. So it's up
to the boy to prove he's not lying and evade the killers.
'The Window' has many things in common with the much better known 'Rear Window.' For one thing, they're both based off of short stories written by Cornell Woolrich. Themes of voyeurism, murder, urban paranoia, and being trapped and defenseless dominate both films. 'Rear Window' is clearly the better film all around, but 'The Window' deserves to be released on DVD so it can be rediscovered and celebrated for the tight, compelling, suspenseful noir classic that it is.
THE WINDOW does everything right, from the solid direction, to the
outstanding production design, on-location sets, cinematography --- and
wonderful acting particularly by Bobby Driscoll. It takes you inside
the New York tenements like no other picture except maybe Angels With
Dirty Faces. The filmmakers have a perfect grasp on the actions of
children --- what they'll do and what they won't. The musical score is
restrained like you'll never see today, nor will you anymore see a
movie end after 72 minutes simply because the story's over.
This was working class New York 15 years before the corruption of drugs brought an era of unrestrained crime, strikes, garbage, and the exit of 1 million of its population -- mostly the middle class. For 30 years from 1960 to 1990 New Yorkers lived their lives not only in fear but knowing their lives tomorrow would be worse than today.
They didn't know this in 1949, but you need to know it to understand that tenement apartments were locked only with 10 cent skeleton keys, windows were open, and people didn't fear their neighbors (as only a few were murderers). In 1949 most well healed middle class people didn't have a window-fan --- let alone air conditioning. It was HOT in the summer. Sleeping on the fire escape -- as Bobby Driscoll does in this story -- was not unusual. There was no fear in 1949 of child molesters, as any such person would be torn to shreds by the neighborhood. The local-color of New York was 100% on target in this film.
I was 11 years old the last time I saw THE WINDOW. Since VHS, it's been on my Most Wanted list for years. Never on eBay, I finally found a rare VHS for rent today. The film greatly exceeds my memory of it. I rated it a "10" and would like to explain this is an old fashioned work-hard-for-it "10." These days every parent I know has an honor student for a child. All it takes for an A is having a pulse. Similarly, any current movie regardless of quality will get a few thousand 10's. Pictures like VACANCY are both scary and entertaining, but they cheat to create the thrills. THE WINDOW relies on a plausible story, and that's the virtue.
I was impressed with this film. It's quite a well made little movie for
its type: well scripted and directed, and especially well acted. Child
star Bobby Driscoll plays a little boy living in a New York City
apartment building during a sweltering summer, who sees his upstairs
neighbors murder someone. He can't get anyone to believe him, because
he's become notorious for making up stories. But the killers find out
that he knows something, and they come after him.
The actors that play Driscoll's parents are very good, especially Arthur Kennedy, that old pro of a character actor, who makes the working class Joe he's playing here utterly believable. You'll recognize Paul Stewart, the male half of the murdering couple, as the crime boss with a pool in Robert Aldrich's "Kiss Me Deadly." And I should also mention Bobby Driscoll, who does not play his role in the precocious, cloying 40's child star manner you might suspect, but instead is able to come across as a normal every-day little boy.
The plot's not complicated, but nevertheless the script writers take pains to make sure that there's a logical motivation behind every action, and you don't have to suspend disbelief while watching this film as you do with virtually every other crime thriller drama from this time period. And the movie does a great job at tapping into that feeling all children at some point experience of being all alone in their own home, when everything suddenly seems stranger and more sinister without the protective presence of their parents.
A fine no-nonsense film from the last days of the 40's and well worth tracking down.
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