- For the Arthur Sullivan song cycle, see The Window (song cycle). For the How I Met Your Mother episode, see The Window (How I Met Your Mother).
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ted Tetzlaff|
|Produced by||Frederic Ullman, Jr.
|Screenplay by||Mel Dinelli|
|Story by||Cornell Woolrich|
|Music by||Roy Webb|
|Cinematography||Robert De Grasse
William O. Steiner
|Editing by||Frederic Knudtson|
|Studio||RKO Radio Pictures|
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
|Running time||73 minutes|
The Window is a 1949 American black-and-white suspense film noir, based on the short story "The Boy Cried Murder" (reprinted as "Fire Escape") by Cornell Woolrich. The film, which was a critical success, was produced by Frederic Ullman, Jr. for $210,000 but earned much more, making it a box office hit for RKO Pictures. The film was directed by Ted Tetzlaff, who worked as a cinematographer on over 100 films, including another successful suspense film, Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious (1946).
Late one night, he climbs up the building fire escape and sees his two seemingly normal neighbors, Mr and Mrs Kellerson, murder a drunken sailor in their apartment. No one, neither the boy's parents or the police, believe young Tommy when he tells them what he has seen, since they all assume that this is just another of the boy's tall tales.
The murderous neighbors find out that the boy is a witness to the killing and plan the same for him when his parents are away. The two of them take Tommy to a dark alley, where they try to kill him. Tommy escapes, but the pair recapture him, taking him back to their apartment. Tommy escapes again onto the roof, pursued by Mr Kellerson.
- Barbara Hale as Mrs. Mary Woodry
- Arthur Kennedy as Mr. Ed Woodry
- Paul Stewart as Joe Kellerson
- Ruth Roman as Mrs. Jean Kellerson
- Bobby Driscoll as Tommy Woodry
When the film was first released, The New York Times lauded the film and wrote, "The striking force and terrifying impact of this RKO melodrama is chiefly due to Bobby's brilliant acting, for the whole effect would have been lost were there any suspicion of doubt about the credibility of this pivotal character. Occasionally, the director overdoes things a bit in striving for shock effects, such as when the half-conscious boy teeters on the rail of a fire-escape or is trapped on a high beam in an abandoned house on the verge of collapse. However, though you may be aware of contrivance in these instances, it is not likely that you will remain immune to the excitement. Indeed, there is such an acute expression of peril etched on the boy's face and reflected by his every movement as he flees death in the crumbling house that one experiences an overwhelming anxiety for his safety."
Film critic Dennis Schwartz discussed the noir aspects of the film and wrote, "The city slum is pictured as not an easy place to raise a child, as there appears no safe place to play. Though the times have changed, this taut tale nevertheless remains gripping and realistic. The modern city is not any less dangerous than the postwar years of the 1940s (undoubtedly even more dangerous). This film noir thriller exploits the meaning of the American dream to work hard for all the material things that were becoming available and ultimately find a utopia in the suburbs, as it cries out for the children left to their own devices to survive in such harsh surroundings as their parents have become too busy to raise them properly."
TV Guide praised the film and wrote in a review of the film, "...this incredibly tense nail-biter stars Driscoll as a young boy who has a habit of crying wolf...The Window presents a frightening vision of helplessness, vividly conveying childish frustration at being dismissed or ignored by one's parents. Director and onetime cameraman Tetzlaff adroitly injects a maximum of suspense into the film, enabling the audience to identify with Driscoll's predicament and, interestingly, to view his parents as evil, almost as evil as the murderers themselves. Having photographed Hitchcock's Notorious just three years before, Tetzlaff had, without a shadow of a doubt, learned something of his suspense-building craft from the master of that art (as did just about every working director)...An exceptional film."
- Edgar Allan Poe Awards: Edgar, Best Motion Picture, Mel Dinelli and Cornell Woolrich; 1950.
- Academy Awards: Oscar, Best Film Editing, Frederic Knudtson; 1950.
- British Academy of Film and Television Arts: BAFTA Film Award, Best Film from any Source, USA; 1950.
- Writers Guild of America: WGA Award (Screen), Best Written American Drama, Mel Dinelli; 1950.
The film has been remade three times:
- Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p237
- Nevins, Francis M. (1988). Cornell Woolrich: First You Dream, Then You Die (New York, London, Tokyo: The Mysterious Press), pp. 332-333.
- The Window at the Internet Movie Database.
- The New Your Times. Film review, "'The Window, Depicting Terror of Boy in Fear of His Life," August 8, 1949. Last accessed: April 5, 2008.
- Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, December 29, 2003. Last accessed: April 5, 2008.
- TV Guide Film review, 2008. Last accessed: April 5, 2008.
- The Window at the Internet Movie Database
- The Window at allmovie
- The Window at the TCM Movie Database
- The Window at DVD Beaver (includes images)
- The Window film scene at YouTube