Based on a short story ("The Boy Cried Murder") by noir master Cornell Woolrich, THE WINDOW (1949) is a first rate little thriller that gives a gritty, urban spin to the classic "boy who cried wolf" narrative. Produced at RKO on a budget of $210,000, THE WINDOW is a tightly constructed, extremely efficient minor film noir.
Young Tommy Woodry (Bobby Driscoll) is an only child living in a run down apartment house in New York's Lower East Side. He's given to wild flights of fancy, a storytelling habit that gets him into trouble with his harried and weary parents (Arthur Kennedy and Barbara Hale). One hot night, Bobby sleeps on the fire escape outside of his bedroom window. Seeking cooler air, he moves up a flight and beds down outside the window of the apartment belonging to the Kellersons (Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman). Through a barely open window, Tommy sees the couple murder an unknown man. He tells his parents the next morning and they, of course, don't believe him.Neither do the police even though they dispatch a detective to check out the Kellersons. Eventually, Tommy's parents make him apologize to the Kellersons, which places him in dire jeopardy. When Tommy's left alone in the apartment one night, the Kellersons make their move against him, plotting to kill Tommy and make it look like an accident.
Tommy, as plaedy by Driscoll (borrowed from the Walt Disney studio where he was under contract), is a plucky, resourceful kid who, although scared, never completely gives in to his fear. Paul Stewart (looking like the love child of Boris Karloff and a young Jack Kirby), makes a good villain. He later played a gangster in Robert Aldrich's film noir masterpiece KISS ME DEADLY (1955). The screenplay, by Mel Dinelli, never fully explains who the Kellerson's victim is or why they killed him (was this a one time thing or have they killed before?). The on location cinematography by Robert De Grasse and William O.Steiner, adds wonderful atmosphere and a strong sense of place. Director Ted Tetzlaff, who shot Alfred Hitchcock's NOTORIOUS (1946), orchestrates the action smoothly and effectively.
THE WINDOW was remade three times: THE BOY CRIED MURDER (1966), EYEWITNESS (1970) and CLOAK & DAGGER (1984) and prefigures the science fiction classic INVADERS FROM MARS (1953), in which no one believes a boy's story about alien invaders.
THE WINDOW is a gripping, well orchestrated exercise in suspense. Recommended.