The Window


1h 13m 1949
The Window

Brief Synopsis

A boy who always lies witnesses a murder but can't get anyone but the killer to believe him.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Boy Cried Murder
Genre
Mystery
Thriller
Film Noir
Release Date
Jan 1949
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: week of 17 May 1949; New York opening: 6 Aug 1949
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, United States; New York City--Harlem, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Boy Cried Murder" by Cornell Woolrich in Mystery Book Magazine (Mar 1947).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,600ft

Synopsis

Nine-year-old Tommy Woodry enjoys spinning tales for his parents, Mary and Ed, and the other children in his New York tenement neighborhood. When Mary and Ed discover that Tommy has bragged to their unsuspecting landlord that they will be moving to Texas soon, however, Tommy is scolded and sent to bed. Unable to sleep because of the oppressive summer heat, Tommy takes his pillow to the fire escape landing on the top floor of his building and falls asleep outside Joe and Jean Kellersons' apartment. During the night, Tommy wakes and, noticing a light in the Kellersons' living room, peeks under their half-drawn window shade. Tommy sees Joe rifling through the pants pocket of an unconscious sailor, who suddenly wakes and starts a fight. After Joe stabs the seaman with a pair of scissors, killing him, Tommy rushes back home to tell his mother what he has witnessed. Mary assures Tommy that he has had a nightmare, and the confused boy returns to his bed. A few minutes later, however, Tommy realizes that he left his pillow on the fire escape and sneaks out to retrieve it, unaware that the Kellersons are depositing the sailor's corpse in the deserted tenement next door. The next morning, after his father, who works the night shift, returns home, Tommy repeats his story. Although Ed admonishes his son to stop making up vicious tales and Mary orders him to stay in his room, Tommy sneaks out of the apartment and goes to the nearest police station. There he tells two police detectives about the murder. One of the detectives, Ross, reluctantly agrees to check out Tommy's story, but insists on first speaking with Mary. An embarrassed Mary assures Ross that Tommy has concocted the tale, but the detective nevertheless decides to inspect the Kellersons' home. Posing as a repair estimator, Ross surveys the rundown apartment, but finds nothing unusual. After Ross leaves, Mary drags Tommy upstairs to apologize to Jane. When Mary orders Tommy to tell Jane exactly what he has been saying about her and Joe, a terrified Tommy refuses to speak. That evening, Mary receives a telegram from her brother-in-law Charlie, informing her that her sickly sister has taken a turn for the worse and needs her. Convinced that the Kellersons sent the telegram in order to get him alone, Tommy begs his mother to take him to his uncle's. To calm Tommy, Ed suggests that they call Charlie from the local drugstore. Although Charlie reassures Tommy that he did, in fact, send the telegram, the boy is still afraid, and after his parents depart, he prepares to run away from home. Tommy writes a goodbye note and is headed out the door when Ed unexpectedly returns. Ed scolds his son for trying to sneak off, then locks him in his bedroom. As soon as Ed leaves, Joe breaks into the Woodrys' apartment. When confronted by Joe, Tommy blurts out everything he knows and is forced into an alley by his now-desperate neighbors. Tommy escapes from the alley, but the Kellersons eventually corner him at a subway station and force him into a taxi. On the way home, Tommy screams at a passing policeman, but the Kellersons easily convince the officer that Tommy is their naughty son. When Tommy continues to protest in the taxi, Joe knocks him out with a single punch, and later places the unconscious boy on the tenement's fire escape railing. Jane protests the cold-blooded murder, however, and inadvertently distracts Joe long enough for the now-revived Tommy to flee. While Ed returns home once more and discovers Tommy missing, Joe pursues the boy across the rooftops and into the condemned tenement. There Tommy stumbles upon the sailor's body in a top-floor closet and screams, giving away his hiding place. As Joe chases Tommy onto an exposed rafter, the building starts to collapse, and Joe falls to his death. The police then persuade the dangling Tommy to jump into a fire net, and the boy is happily reunited with his parents. Later, Ed promises his son that he will never again doubt his stories, while Tommy vows to his parents that he will never invent another story.

Photo Collections

The Window - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from RKO's The Window (1949). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Boy Cried Murder
Genre
Mystery
Thriller
Film Noir
Release Date
Jan 1949
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: week of 17 May 1949; New York opening: 6 Aug 1949
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, United States; New York City--Harlem, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Boy Cried Murder" by Cornell Woolrich in Mystery Book Magazine (Mar 1947).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 13m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,600ft

Award Nominations

Best Editing

1949
Frederic Knudtson

Articles

The Window


Named best mystery film of the year by the Mystery Writers of America, The Window (1949) is often overlooked by modern audiences. The film, an urban variation on "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" theme, spins a tense, 73-minute tale about a young boy who witnesses a murder. He soon finds himself targeted by the killers but because of his past tall tales, no one believes that his life is in danger. If the story seems familiar, it's because it's been remade numerous times, the most recent version being Cloak and Dagger (1984) starring Henry Thomas.

Considering the talent behind The Window, it's no surprise that the film is highly regarded among B-movie connoisseurs. Director Ted Tetzlaff was a former cameraman who had photographed films like My Man Godfrey (1936) and The Enchanted Cottage (1945). Tetzlaff's last project as cinematographer before turning to directing was Notorious (1946) for Alfred Hitchcock. No doubt, at least some aspect of Tetzlaff's suspenseful direction was influenced by the master.

The story for The Window was based on a novelette by famed crime writer Cornell Woolrich. Often called "The Father of Noir", Woolrich began his career writing traditional novels which were heavily influenced by F. Scott Fitzgerald. But the market for novels during the depression was poor so he turned to pulp magazines for a steady paycheck. Through the 30s and 40s, Woolrich turned out over 100 short stories and suspense novels. Many of these stories have been adapted for the big screen, from Rear Window (1954) to Truffaut's The Bride Wore Black (1967) and Mississippi Mermaid (1969); the latter film has just been remade as Original Sin starring Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas.

The Window boasts a superb supporting cast of Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy and Ruth Roman. Child star Bobby Driscoll shines in the lead role for which he was named Outstanding Juvenile Actor and given a miniature Oscar statue. He was also the first actor Walt Disney ever put under contract, appearing in such Disney films as Song of the South (1946) and Treasure Island (1950). In addition, Driscoll was the model and voice for the animated Peter Pan (1953).

Unfortunately, the child actor was unable to make the transition to adult roles. He later said of his life, "I was carried on a satin cushion and then dropped into the garbage can." In the sixties, Driscoll turned to drugs and was later found dead in a New York tenement building in 1968. At first, the former child star was buried as a John Doe in a pauper's grave and his body wasn't identified until later that year when the FBI, at his family's request, finally matched up his fingerprints with the body. It was a sad end to a once promising career. Nevertheless, The Window is a testament to Driscoll's talent and may be his finest performance.

Producer: Dore Schary, Frederic Ullman Jr.
Director: Ted Tetzlaff
Screenplay: Mel Dinelli, Cornell Woolrich (story)
Cinematography: William O. Steiner
Film Editing: Frederic Knudtson
Original Music: Roy Webb
Principal Cast: Bobby Driscoll (Tommy Woodry), Arthur Kennedy (Mr. Woodry), Barbara Hale (Mrs. Woodry), Paul Stewart (Joe Kellerton), Ruth Roman (Mrs. Kellerton).
BW-74m. Closed captioning.

by Stephanie Thames

The Window

The Window

Named best mystery film of the year by the Mystery Writers of America, The Window (1949) is often overlooked by modern audiences. The film, an urban variation on "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" theme, spins a tense, 73-minute tale about a young boy who witnesses a murder. He soon finds himself targeted by the killers but because of his past tall tales, no one believes that his life is in danger. If the story seems familiar, it's because it's been remade numerous times, the most recent version being Cloak and Dagger (1984) starring Henry Thomas. Considering the talent behind The Window, it's no surprise that the film is highly regarded among B-movie connoisseurs. Director Ted Tetzlaff was a former cameraman who had photographed films like My Man Godfrey (1936) and The Enchanted Cottage (1945). Tetzlaff's last project as cinematographer before turning to directing was Notorious (1946) for Alfred Hitchcock. No doubt, at least some aspect of Tetzlaff's suspenseful direction was influenced by the master. The story for The Window was based on a novelette by famed crime writer Cornell Woolrich. Often called "The Father of Noir", Woolrich began his career writing traditional novels which were heavily influenced by F. Scott Fitzgerald. But the market for novels during the depression was poor so he turned to pulp magazines for a steady paycheck. Through the 30s and 40s, Woolrich turned out over 100 short stories and suspense novels. Many of these stories have been adapted for the big screen, from Rear Window (1954) to Truffaut's The Bride Wore Black (1967) and Mississippi Mermaid (1969); the latter film has just been remade as Original Sin starring Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas. The Window boasts a superb supporting cast of Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy and Ruth Roman. Child star Bobby Driscoll shines in the lead role for which he was named Outstanding Juvenile Actor and given a miniature Oscar statue. He was also the first actor Walt Disney ever put under contract, appearing in such Disney films as Song of the South (1946) and Treasure Island (1950). In addition, Driscoll was the model and voice for the animated Peter Pan (1953). Unfortunately, the child actor was unable to make the transition to adult roles. He later said of his life, "I was carried on a satin cushion and then dropped into the garbage can." In the sixties, Driscoll turned to drugs and was later found dead in a New York tenement building in 1968. At first, the former child star was buried as a John Doe in a pauper's grave and his body wasn't identified until later that year when the FBI, at his family's request, finally matched up his fingerprints with the body. It was a sad end to a once promising career. Nevertheless, The Window is a testament to Driscoll's talent and may be his finest performance. Producer: Dore Schary, Frederic Ullman Jr. Director: Ted Tetzlaff Screenplay: Mel Dinelli, Cornell Woolrich (story) Cinematography: William O. Steiner Film Editing: Frederic Knudtson Original Music: Roy Webb Principal Cast: Bobby Driscoll (Tommy Woodry), Arthur Kennedy (Mr. Woodry), Barbara Hale (Mrs. Woodry), Paul Stewart (Joe Kellerton), Ruth Roman (Mrs. Kellerton). BW-74m. Closed captioning. by Stephanie Thames

Quotes

A good lickin' never hurt anybody, boy. My old man used to give me enough of 'em when I was a kid. Hey, still in all, I never thought of callin' the cops when he did.
- Police Officer

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was The Boy Cried Murder. The film opens with the following written quotation from Aesop's Fables: "The boy cried 'wolf' 'wolf' several times and each time the people came to help him they found that there wasn't any 'wolf.'" The Window was producer Frederic Ullman, Jr.'s last film; he died on December 29, 1948, before its release. Prior to making The Window, Ullman was president of RKO-Pathé in New York and was in charge of RKO's This Is America series of documentary shorts. RKO borrowed Bobby Driscoll from Walt Disney's company for the production. Although the CBCS lists Lee Kass as a reporter in the film, and Tex Swan as a milkman, those parts were not included in the final film.
       Contemporary news items add the following information about the production: Most of the picture was shot in the newly constructed RKO-Pathé Studios in Harlem, New York City, and in abandoned tenements on 105th and 116th Streets. To comply with I.A.T.S.E regulations, which forbid the use of a Hollywood cinematographer when more than two-thirds of a picture is shot in New York, RKO hired William Steiner as director of photography while filming there. In mid-December 1947, the production moved to RKO's Los Angeles studios, where six new cast members and a new crew completed the picture. Robert de Grasse photographed the Los Angeles footage. Many reviewers referred to The Window, which modern sources claim cost $210,000 to make, as a "sleeper," and praised the picture for its suspenseful realism. Driscoll won a special Oscar as "Outstanding Juvenile Actor of 1949," an award given largely for his performance in this film. In 1966, Philip N. Krasne produced The Boy Cried Murder, a British version of Cornell Woolrich's short story, starring Veronica Hurst and Phil Brown and directed by George Breakston (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70; F6.0528). The Window was remade again in 1984 as Cloak & Dagger, directed by Richard Franklin and starring Henry Thomas.