Movie Critique - The Window
Stars: 5 / 5
Recommendation: Aesop's fable turned to a deadly film noir with some exception action by everyone involved, leaving viewers with chills, horror and the feeling to dive into the screen and save the little one. Well-made and thoroughly entertained.
The Window is a 1949 American film noir directed by Ted Tetzlafff and produced by Frederic Ullman Jr. Based on the 1947 short story "The Boy Cried Murder" by Cornell Woolrich, the screenplay was adapted by Mel Dinelli and the film was a box office hit that year. Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy and Bobby Driscoll were among the lead cast in the film.
The Woodry family lives in a tenement in the Lower East Side of New York. Their son Tommy Woodry (portrayed by Bobby Driscoll), one night sees a murder being committed by his neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Kellerson (portrayed by Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman). However no one believes him since he always cried wolf. But the murderous couple now try to kill Tommy and he has to escape from them with no help from anywhere whatsoever.
Everyone remembers Barbara Hale for her famous role as Della Street, confidential secretary to Perry Mason, in the original TV series that aired in 1957 to 1966; and later reprised the role in the Perry Mason made for television movies between 1985 and 1995.
I saw her in only one other film outside of Perry Mason series, where she had two lines of speaking part, her second film role. It was the 1943 Mexican Spitfire's Blessed Event. So when TCM was airing this movie and I saw that Barbara Hale has a much bigger role, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to watch it, and found a gem of a film noir in it.
Barbara Hale as Mrs. Mary Woodry makes a very comely wife and mother. It was so different seeing her in this role when she was seen as a sophisticated secretary in so many episodes of Perry Mason.
Arthur Kennedy as Mr. Ed Woodry makes a tired and hard working father. Very recently I saw the 1941 robbery-heist film High Sierra in which Kennedy played the part of Red Hattery, one of the robbers. Two quite contrasting roles that showcases definitely his acting talents. No wonder he won many awards and received Oscar nominations too.
The movie has certain chillness and cold feeling to the story mixed with happy summery life of the residents who do not know about the murder that happened close by. The last 15 minutes leading up to the climax scene was nerve-wrecking.
Bobby Driscoll was presented a miniature Oscar statuette as the outstanding juvenile actor for 1949 at the 1950 Academy Awards ceremony. He was only 13 years old then.
With such a successful career as a child artiste, Driscoll failed to come to fame as an adult. Addicted to narcotics and substance abuse, he died anonymously at a very young age of 31 years in New York City in 1968. His body and grave were not identified until a year later when his mother tried to find him to reinitiate contact. Very sad ending for such a brilliant actor.
It is so ironic that in the film, Driscoll finds a body in a deserted tenement in Lower East Side of New York City. And two decades later his body was found in a deserted East Village tenement in New York City. A very chilling coincidence that I couldn’t shake off.
The film opens with the lines from the Aesop's fable "The Boy Who Cried Wolf".
The film may not have been a classic noir, but it has all the elements of one. And successfully executed as well. Lucky for Howard Hughes who wanted to throw this movie away and considered a b-movie, that even with delayed release, it garnered fame and success.
Aesop's fable turned to a deadly film noir with some exception action by everyone involved, leaving viewers with chills, horror and the feeling to dive into the screen and save the little one. Well-made and thoroughly entertained.
1) Movie Trivia:
a. This film has been remade three times - in 1966 as The Boy Cried Murder; In 1970 as Eyewitness; In 1984 as Cloak & Dagger.
b. Bobby Driscoll also plays a boy who kills a villain in the 1950 Treasure Island.
2) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:
a. Everyone complains of heat and even Tommy does several times. Yet he is shown wearing long sleeved shirts and pajamas and long pants through out the film. Perhaps the film was made during early fall in New York City, rather than in summer as the plot is set in?
b. In the pursuit when Tommy finds the dead body, the body moves.
c. The cable attached to hold the beam upright is clearly seen.