Window, The (1949)

“With all the stories you tell, it’s no wonder you have nightmares!”

Window Poster

Synopsis:
An overly imaginative young boy named Tommy (Bobby Driscoll) sees his upstairs neighbors (Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman) murdering a man, but neither his hardworking parents (Arthur Kennedy and Barbara Hale) nor the police believe he’s telling the truth. When Stewart and Roman learn that Tommy has witnessed their crime, his life is soon in jeopardy — but can he get anyone to believe him?

Genres:

Review:
Nearly everyone who’s seen this nifty, under-appreciated thriller (a genuine “sleeper” at the time of its release) agrees that its time in the limelight can’t be too far away. The Window posits a riveting “no one believes me” scenario based on an entirely legitimate premise: who will believe the “boy who cried wolf” once a wolf is really out to get him? Indeed, Tommy’s life is in genuine, startling jeopardy for the majority of the film — and while we may question his parents’ wisdom in leaving him all alone at night in a sketchy New York tenement, there’s something undeniably (perhaps disturbingly) refreshing about witnessing an era in which children aren’t automatically believed, and in which they’re expected to take a certain amount of responsibility for themselves. In addition to Driscoll’s Oscar-winning performance (he truly carries the film), all of the actors do a fine job here, with Ruth Roman surprisingly well-cast as a baddy (one shot in particular — see stills below — reveals an other-worldly evil in her eyes), and Paul Stewart genuinely creepy as her even more ruthless husband. Credit must go as well to Robert De Grasse and William Steiner for their atmospheric cinematography, which places Tommy in a black-and-white shadowland of New York peril.

P.S. Film fanatics may be interested to compare this film with The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953), which adds a Freudian, dream-like spin to its tale of another “Tommy” caught in the ultimate Living Nightmare.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Bobby Driscoll as Tommy
    Window Driscoll
  • Arthur Kennedy and Barbara Hale as Tommy’s loving but weary parents
    Window Parents
  • Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman as Tommy’s murderous neighbors
    Window Stewart
    Window Roman
  • Fine use of run-down New York tenements as locales
    Window Tenement
  • Excellent noir-ish cinematography

Must See?
Yes, as an oft-overlooked “good show”, and for Driscoll’s Oscar-winning performance.

Categories

Links:

One Response to “Window, The (1949)”

  1. A definite must – suspense ffs in particular should be sure to hunt it down.

    Directed by DP Ted Tetzlaff (camera vet of 100+ films, ending with ‘Notorious’), and clocking in at a mere 73 minutes, there is hardly a frame wasted. The film is based on a short story by the gay/noir writer Cornell Woolrich and it is a marvel of economy.

    [Films based on Woolrich stories include ‘The Leopard Man’, ‘Phantom Lady’, ‘Night Has a Thousand Eyes’, ‘Rear Window’, ‘The Bride Wore Black’, etc.]

    ‘The Window’ is among those films one should read as little about as possible prior to seeing it. As for the performances, it’s true that Driscoll “carries the film” and that Roman and Stewart are more-than-appropriately creepy – but I am also impressed by the understated Kennedy and Hale as mom and dad.

    A real find, this one – with surprising turns, escalating uneasiness and a genuinely terrifying finish.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.