I remember seeing The Window as a kid on TV and probably laughing a wee bit too much because the lying wolf-crying brat who no one believed about the murder he finally DID see was getting his just desserts when all those chickens came home to roost. Seeing it a few times more as I got older (and thankfully, wiser) revealed a pretty sinister film noir thriller with probably the best child performance I’d ever seen in a film that old.
Granted, I’m not advocating the already generally creepy “Child in Danger!” flick or that entire sub-genre of flicks made throughout cinematic history as a “must-see” collection of films if you’ve got a very soft spot for your own brood of lovable lamp-breaking, cookie stealing ankle-biters. However, as a chilling little classic film that’s never been remade properly (at least in my humble opinion), it’s a total spine-shaker right from the beginning…
Young star Bobby Dricsoll is perfectly cast as Tommy Woodry, the pesky kid learning his lesson the hard way about annoying his neighbors with his tall tales. When he sees his neighbors actually kill off a man and tries to report it, no one wants to give him an ear because they’re just sick and tired of his antics. Unfortunately, the married murderers get a hold of the poor kid and intend to do him in just to make sure no one does get to believing him. Let’s just say the level of tension ratchets up considerably and Tommy gets put through the wringer, nearly ending up on a slab himself a few times as the film twists and turns its way to its conclusion.
Oddly enough, the film also works as a junior detective story as Bobby goes from a flat out little liar to a kid slowly piecing together clues about his neighbors. He even pulls off a few minor gumshoe moves as the film gets to its hide and seek finale in a condemned apartment building that’s falling apart as he’s being stalked through it by the killers. Driscoll won a special Children’s Academy Award for this and another performance, so I’m gathering in those scenes where he looks the most scared, he IS the most scared. Having to scale deadly heights and taking the occasional closed fist to the head do that to a kid, you know…
As bad as the killers are here (after kidnapping him, they pose as the boy’s parents to get past the authorities at one point), it’s the other lazy-ass adults that you’ll probably dislike even more. His parents are both hard working but worn out from his constant tall tales, so I can see their jaded attitude completely. Tommy may have led them on one too many times, but the cops in this film are pretty lame, especially in a few scenes where they’re not as thorough as the needed to be. Of course, the film would be over a lot quicker if the po-po were paying more mind, but you can say that about any movie where suspense relies on suspension of disbelief.
Still, I can only imagine this recast and re-shot as-is today. The usual parent’s groups would be storming any studio that whipped this film out and all sorts of overpaid tee-vee pea-sychiatrists would be falling over themselves on cable and local news ranting and raving about the movie being too much about child endangerment and all sorts of non-medical “expert” hoo-hah that doesn’t need to be interfering with a movie that’s not a documentary or “based on a true story” or anything like that. Of course, once Hollywood sics a team of writers on almost any film, it’s “based on a true story” or worse, “inspired by actual events”… Bleah.
Of course, when someone finally got around to telling the complainers there was a film made in the last century that inspired the new version, there would be the requisite non-apology babbling and/or stumbling retractions as any ire about the remake would just die off anyway when it disappeared from theaters without a trace because it wasn’t as good as what came before. I guess the lesson there is don’t muck with the classics unless you want your ass handed to you by the clueless ones who don’t know much what they’re talking about but LOVE being angry about something. Hey, I make these posts up as I go, so you’re not supposed to learn anything from them at all, you know.
Where was I? Oh, right. So grab this flick if you can find it, and if you’ve got bad kids at home who don’t know when to quit and make your life hell on and off wheels, just make them watch it with you and tell them “there’s going to be a quiz later…” with a strange smile and glint in your eye. I see that it’s NOT on Netflix or any other streaming service from what I can tell, so you’ll need to get a home video version from somewhere. It’s part of the Warner Bros Archive Collection, as are a bunch of other classics, so that’s probably where you’ll get yours (unlike Tommy, who ALMOST gets his, ha ha).
UPDATE: someone recently hipped me to the fact that this is on at least ONE streaming or download site for devices and PC, but he didn’t say whether it was a LEGAL download, so I’m not providing that link out of respect for Warner Bros. Pictures. Yeah, that’s how I roll… with RESPECT!