The boy who knew too much: The Window (Ted Tetzlaff, 1949)

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Tommy Woodry (Bobby Driscoll) is a Boy Who Cried Wolf of mid-century New York, unable to convince anyone that he witnessed his upstairs neighbours commit a murder. This makes for a fairly simple story, but one in which all the elements are sound. Driscoll, that classic tragic child star, is capable of carrying the film when called for. Meanwhile, stalwarts Arthur Kennedy and Barbara Hale are perfectly likeable and reasonable as Tommy’s quite mistaken parents. Of the murderous couple, Paul Stewart gives Joe Kellerson an overconfident sadism, while Ruth Roman is underserved in the promising role of a housewife who turns femme fatale by night.

The Window obviously didn’t cost a good deal of money, much of it taking place within a couple of interiors. They look convincingly cramped and grimy, however; this is not a wealthy part of town. Many scenes feature strong noir lighting, while those that are set outside on New York’s streets provide a fascinating document of a time and place. Numerous details, such as Mary Woodry hanging out washing on a line strung between apartment blocks, Tommy venturing further up a fire escape in search of a cooler place to sleep, or the family having to visit a local store just to make a phone call, add to the verisimilitude. While The Window is not complex or ambitious, what it does, it does well.

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