Talkie of the Week: The Window
USA 1949, 73 minutes, black & white, An RKO Radio Picture. Director: Ted Tetzlaff, Screenplay by: Mel Dinelli, Based on the story The Boy Cried Murder by Cornell Woolrich. Cast: Barbara Hale, Bobby Driscoll, Arthur Kennedy, Paul Stewart, Ruth Roman
Plot summary: 9-year-old Tommy has a vivid imagination. Vivid enough to get him into trouble with his family. When he witnesses a murder late one night, his parents don’t believe him. He has told too many lies. The police does not believe him either, after all he’s just a boy who is infamous for stretching the truth. So Tommy is left with the murderers who know he has witnessed their crime. They don’t want to rely on Tommy’s incredibility and try to hush him for good.
Review: The Window is a little known film noir for which Bobby Driscol earned an honorary Academy Award for his portrayal of a distressed Tommy. Apart from the young protagonist, the rest of the cast gives convincing and sometimes stellar performances as Tommy adversaries.
Tommy’s parents, Barbara Hale and Arthur Kennedy, create a believable setting for the boys nature and the trouble he has gotten himself or them into in the past. Their reaction, their credibility about the hardship of raising a family in New York’s Lower East Side – all of these elements add to the crucial element of suspense. Tommy is not a perfect child. His persistence, his simple-mindedness make him appear annoying at times. It is apparent why his parents don’t believe him. But they love him nonetheless. And so does the audience when he runs for his life while he learns the lesson never to cry wolf again.
Side note: The movie was shot in 1947 but not released before August 1949.
Available on DVD and VHS.
Personal note: This gem is one of many I came across because of the lovely Barbara Hale. You will find her work presented here on a frequent basis.