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The Window (film)

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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"4 by Cornell Woolrich about a lying boy who suspects that his neighbors are killers5 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


  • 1 Plot
  • 2 Cast
  • 3 Reception
    • 31 Critical response
    • 32 Awards
  • 4 Adaptations
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links


Set and filmed on location in the tenement section of New York's Lower East Side, the film tells the story of a young boy, Tommy Woodry Driscoll, who has a habit of crying wolf 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 nor the police – believes 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

When Mrs Woodry takes Tommy to apologize to the Kellersons, he refuses and they become suspicious of him When Mrs Woodry leaves to care for a sick relative and Mr Woodry is away at his night job, the murderous neighbors plan to kill Tommy, who has been locked in his room by his father to prevent further escapades Under the pretense of going to the police, the Kellersons take Tommy to a dark alley, where they try to kill him Tommy escapes, but the pair quickly recaptures him, taking him back to their apartment in a taxi Tommy screams at a policeman for help, but the officer remembers Tommy as the boy who came to the station earlier and failed to convince the police The Kellersons fool the cab driver by posing as Tommy's parents Mr Woodry returns from work to find Tommy missing Mr Woodry then asks a police officer for help

Meanwhile, the Kellersons have Tommy secured in their apartment Tommy escapes, climbs onto the roof and is pursued by Mr Kellerson, but Mrs Kellerson has a change of heart about killing Tommy The police officer suggests that Tommy went to see his mother, and he and Mr Woodry leave the tenement Tommy sees his father leave in his car and yells for him, the sound of which alerts Mr Kellerson to Tommy's location The chase resumes with Tommy finding the body of the dead sailor The upper building starts to collapse As Mr Kellerson is about to grab Tommy, Tommy pulls a rafter aside and Kellerson falls before the rafter collapses and kills him This time, Tommy screams loud enough for neighbors to hear and they call the police The boy is rescued and his parents are proud of him


  • 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


Critical responseedit

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"6

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"7

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 wolfThe 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 directorAn exceptional film"8



  • 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:

  • The Boy Cried Murder 1966
  • Eyewitness 1970
  • Cloak & Dagger 1984


  1. ^ a b "The Window: Detail View" American Film Institute Retrieved February 2, 2016 
  2. ^ Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982 p237
  3. ^ https://archiveorg/stream/variety168-1947-11#page/n72/mode/1up
  4. ^ Nevins, Francis M 1988 Cornell Woolrich: First You Dream, Then You Die New York, London, Tokyo: The Mysterious Press, pp 332–333
  5. ^ The Window on Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ Schwartz, Dennis Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, December 29, 2003 Last accessed: April 5, 2008
  8. ^ TV Guide Film review, 2008 Last accessed: April 5, 2008

External linksedit

  • Film in the United States portal
  • The Window on 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 on YouTube

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The Window (film)

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