Window, The (1949): Ted Tezlaff’s Film Noir, Starring Bobby Driscoll, Ruth Roman, Arthur Kennedy, Paul Stewart

Ted Tezlaff directed The Window, a suspenseful film noir, based on the story “The Boy Cried Murder” (reprinted as “Fire Escape”) by Cornell Woolrich about a boy who suspects that his neighbors are killers.

The Window
The window 1949.jpg

Theatrical release poster

Mel Dinelli, who had written the great film noir, The Spiral Staircase, for RKO, adapted the story to the screen under the title of The Window.

Director Tetzlaff is better known as the cinematographer on over 100 films, including Hitchcock’s Notorious (1946).

Set and shot on location in the tenement section of New York’s Lower East Side, the film tells the story of a young boy, Tommy Woodry (Bobby Driscoll), who has a habit of crying wolf.

One night, he climbs up the building fire-escape and sees his seemingly normal neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Kellerson (Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman), murder a drunken sailor in their apartment.

Neither the boy’s parents nor the police believe Tommy; they assume this is one of the boy’s tall tales–perhaps a dream or a nightmare.

The father recalls an episode of his own childhood, in which he had dreamed about fires and his parents also failed to believe him.  He is concerned that his boy would be labeled as a liar and thus tarnish the family’s reputation.

The film, which was a critical success, was produced by Frederic Ullman Jr. for only $210,000 but became a box office hit for RKO Pictures.

Oscar Context

For his performance, Bobby Driscoll received a miniature Oscar statuette as the outstanding juvenile actor of 1949 at the 1950 Oscars ceremony.

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


Directed by Ted Tetzlaff
Produced by Frederic Ullman Jr. Dore Schary
Screenplay by Mel Dinelli
Story by Cornell Woolrich, based on “The Boy Cried Murder” 1947 story by Cornell Woolrich
Music by Roy Webb
Cinematography Robert De Grasse, William O. Steiner
Edited by Frederic Knudtson

Production and Distribution: RKO Radio Pictures

Release date: May 17, 1949 (Premiere-Los Angeles); August 6, 1949 (US)

Running time: 73 minutes


I am grateful to TCM for showing this film on March 2, 2020.