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The Window


Rod Lott January 14th, 2011

Remember the fable about the boy who cried wolf?

If not, the opening frames of 1949's "The Window" will remind you, before digging in to a number about a boy who witnesses a murder ... and no one believes him.

That boy is 9-year-old Tommy (Disney star Bobby Driscoll), an only child with an overactive imagination. He lives with his parents in a tiny apartment in a big, bad, black-and-white city of which noir thrillers are built on beds of suspense. He irks his neighbors and parents by telling tall tales.

The tallest of all is one that is actually true. Unable to sleep one night, he crawls out on the fire escape and sees a couple murder a man in cold blood (is there any other kind?). His folks think he's lying, as do the police. The only ones willing to take his word for it are the very people he's fingered as the culprits, and even although Tommy's just a kid, they're anxious to make him disappear in the name of self-preservation.

If "The Window" sounds like a pint-sized "Rear Window," you're forgiven; both this and the Alfred Hitchcock classic were based on stories by Cornell Woolrich, who excelled at this type of high-concept crime story. Director Ted Tetzlaff, who served as cinematographer for Hitch's 1946 classic "Notorious," doesn't harbor the master touch of his former employer, but he obviously picked up more than a few pointers, as this economical film (at all of 73 minutes) has scant opportunity to dally about and dwindle.

It's amusing to me that Driscoll actually earned an honorary "baby" Oscar for his work here, and he's clearly delivering lines with exaggerated force, but in a way, it's quaint. For this belated release as an MOD DVD, Warner Archive has remastered it, but note that it remains full-screen. —Rod Lott


 
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