The Window (1949)

73 mins | Drama | 1949

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HISTORY

The working title of this film was The Boy Cried Murder . The film opens with the following written quotation from Aesop's Fables : "The boy cried 'wolf' 'wolf' several times and each time the people came to help him they found that there wasn't any 'wolf.'" The Window was producer Frederic Ullman, Jr.'s last film; he died on 29 Dec 1948, before its release. Prior to making The Window , Ullman was president of RKO-Pathé in New York and was in charge of RKO's This Is America series of documentary shorts. RKO borrowed Bobby Driscoll from Walt Disney's company for the production. Although the CBCS lists Lee Kass as a reporter in the film, and Tex Swan as a milkman, those parts were not included in the final film.
       Contemporary news items add the following information about the production: Most of the picture was shot in the newly constructed RKO-Pathé Studios in Harlem, New York City, and in abandoned tenements on 105th and 116th Streets. To comply with I.A.T.S.E regulations, which forbid the use of a Hollywood cinematographer when more than two-thirds of a picture is shot in New York, RKO hired William Steiner as director of photography while filming there. In mid-Dec 1947, the production moved to RKO's Los Angeles studios, where six new cast members and a new crew completed the picture. Robert de Grasse photographed the Los Angeles footage. Many reviewers referred to The Window , which modern sources claim cost $210,000 to make, as a "sleeper," and praised the picture for its suspenseful realism. Driscoll won a special Oscar ... More Less

The working title of this film was The Boy Cried Murder . The film opens with the following written quotation from Aesop's Fables : "The boy cried 'wolf' 'wolf' several times and each time the people came to help him they found that there wasn't any 'wolf.'" The Window was producer Frederic Ullman, Jr.'s last film; he died on 29 Dec 1948, before its release. Prior to making The Window , Ullman was president of RKO-Pathé in New York and was in charge of RKO's This Is America series of documentary shorts. RKO borrowed Bobby Driscoll from Walt Disney's company for the production. Although the CBCS lists Lee Kass as a reporter in the film, and Tex Swan as a milkman, those parts were not included in the final film.
       Contemporary news items add the following information about the production: Most of the picture was shot in the newly constructed RKO-Pathé Studios in Harlem, New York City, and in abandoned tenements on 105th and 116th Streets. To comply with I.A.T.S.E regulations, which forbid the use of a Hollywood cinematographer when more than two-thirds of a picture is shot in New York, RKO hired William Steiner as director of photography while filming there. In mid-Dec 1947, the production moved to RKO's Los Angeles studios, where six new cast members and a new crew completed the picture. Robert de Grasse photographed the Los Angeles footage. Many reviewers referred to The Window , which modern sources claim cost $210,000 to make, as a "sleeper," and praised the picture for its suspenseful realism. Driscoll won a special Oscar as "Outstanding Juvenile Actor of 1949," an award given largely for his performance in this film. In 1966, Philip N. Krasne produced The Boy Cried Murder , a British version of Cornell Woolrich's short story, starring Veronica Hurst and Phil Brown and directed by George Breakston (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ; F6.0528). The Window was remade again in 1984 as Cloak & Dagger , directed by Richard Franklin and starring Henry Thomas. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
14 May 1949.
---
Daily Variety
10 May 49
p. 3.
Film Daily
10 May 49
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Mar 47
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Nov 47
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 47
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 47
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jan 48
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 49
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
18 May 1949.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 May 49
p. 4609.
New York Times
26 Oct 1947.
---
New York Times
8 Aug 49
p. 10.
Variety
8 Dec 1947.
---
Variety
11 May 49
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "The Boy Cried Murder" by Cornell Woolrich in Mystery Book Magazine (Mar 1947).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Boy Cried Murder
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: week of 17 May 1949
New York opening: 6 August 1949
Production Date:
12 November 1947--early January 1948 at RKO-Pathé Studios (New York City--Harlem)
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
10 May 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2327
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
73
Length(in feet):
6,600
Country:
United States
PCA No:
12861
SYNOPSIS

Nine-year-old Tommy Woodry enjoys spinning tales for his parents, Mary and Ed, and the other children in his New York tenement neighborhood. When Mary and Ed discover that Tommy has bragged to their unsuspecting landlord that they will be moving to Texas soon, however, Tommy is scolded and sent to bed. Unable to sleep because of the oppressive summer heat, Tommy takes his pillow to the fire escape landing on the top floor of his building and falls asleep outside Joe and Jean Kellersons' apartment. During the night, Tommy wakes and, noticing a light in the Kellersons' living room, peeks under their half-drawn window shade. Tommy sees Joe rifling through the pants pocket of an unconscious sailor, who suddenly wakes and starts a fight. After Joe stabs the seaman with a pair of scissors, killing him, Tommy rushes back home to tell his mother what he has witnessed. Mary assures Tommy that he has had a nightmare, and the confused boy returns to his bed. A few minutes later, however, Tommy realizes that he left his pillow on the fire escape and sneaks out to retrieve it, unaware that the Kellersons are depositing the sailor's corpse in the deserted tenement next door. The next morning, after his father, who works the night shift, returns home, Tommy repeats his story. Although Ed admonishes his son to stop making up vicious tales and Mary orders him to stay in his room, Tommy sneaks out of the apartment and goes to the nearest police station. There he tells two police detectives about the murder. One of the detectives, Ross, reluctantly agrees to check out ... +


Nine-year-old Tommy Woodry enjoys spinning tales for his parents, Mary and Ed, and the other children in his New York tenement neighborhood. When Mary and Ed discover that Tommy has bragged to their unsuspecting landlord that they will be moving to Texas soon, however, Tommy is scolded and sent to bed. Unable to sleep because of the oppressive summer heat, Tommy takes his pillow to the fire escape landing on the top floor of his building and falls asleep outside Joe and Jean Kellersons' apartment. During the night, Tommy wakes and, noticing a light in the Kellersons' living room, peeks under their half-drawn window shade. Tommy sees Joe rifling through the pants pocket of an unconscious sailor, who suddenly wakes and starts a fight. After Joe stabs the seaman with a pair of scissors, killing him, Tommy rushes back home to tell his mother what he has witnessed. Mary assures Tommy that he has had a nightmare, and the confused boy returns to his bed. A few minutes later, however, Tommy realizes that he left his pillow on the fire escape and sneaks out to retrieve it, unaware that the Kellersons are depositing the sailor's corpse in the deserted tenement next door. The next morning, after his father, who works the night shift, returns home, Tommy repeats his story. Although Ed admonishes his son to stop making up vicious tales and Mary orders him to stay in his room, Tommy sneaks out of the apartment and goes to the nearest police station. There he tells two police detectives about the murder. One of the detectives, Ross, reluctantly agrees to check out Tommy's story, but insists on first speaking with Mary. An embarrassed Mary assures Ross that Tommy has concocted the tale, but the detective nevertheless decides to inspect the Kellersons' home. Posing as a repair estimator, Ross surveys the rundown apartment, but finds nothing unusual. After Ross leaves, Mary drags Tommy upstairs to apologize to Jane. When Mary orders Tommy to tell Jane exactly what he has been saying about her and Joe, a terrified Tommy refuses to speak. That evening, Mary receives a telegram from her brother-in-law Charlie, informing her that her sickly sister has taken a turn for the worse and needs her. Convinced that the Kellersons sent the telegram in order to get him alone, Tommy begs his mother to take him to his uncle's. To calm Tommy, Ed suggests that they call Charlie from the local drugstore. Although Charlie reassures Tommy that he did, in fact, send the telegram, the boy is still afraid, and after his parents depart, he prepares to run away from home. Tommy writes a goodbye note and is headed out the door when Ed unexpectedly returns. Ed scolds his son for trying to sneak off, then locks him in his bedroom. As soon as Ed leaves, Joe breaks into the Woodrys' apartment. When confronted by Joe, Tommy blurts out everything he knows and is forced into an alley by his now-desperate neighbors. Tommy escapes from the alley, but the Kellersons eventually corner him at a subway station and force him into a taxi. On the way home, Tommy screams at a passing policeman, but the Kellersons easily convince the officer that Tommy is their naughty son. When Tommy continues to protest in the taxi, Joe knocks him out with a single punch, and later places the unconscious boy on the tenement's fire escape railing. Jane protests the cold-blooded murder, however, and inadvertently distracts Joe long enough for the now-revived Tommy to flee. While Ed returns home once more and discovers Tommy missing, Joe pursues the boy across the rooftops and into the condemned tenement. There Tommy stumbles upon the sailor's body in a top-floor closet and screams, giving away his hiding place. As Joe chases Tommy onto an exposed rafter, the building starts to collapse, and Joe falls to his death. The police then persuade the dangling Tommy to jump into a fire net, and the boy is happily reunited with his parents. Later, Ed promises his son that he will never again doubt his stories, while Tommy vows to his parents that he will never invent another story. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.