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Film / The Window

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The Window is a 1949 American black-and-white suspense Film Noir directed by Ted Tetzlaff, based on the short story "The Boy Cried Murder" by Cornell Woolrich.

On a hot summer night, young Tommy Woodry (Bobby Driscoll) decides to sleep on the fire escape of his family's tenement apartment. He climbs up outside the window of a neighboring couple, the Kellersons (Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman), where he sees them kill a man with a pair of scissors. The problem is that Tommy has a reputation for telling tall tales, so of course his parents (Arthur Kennedy and Barbara Hale) refuse to believe him now that he's telling the truth. He even sneaks out of the house and goes down to the police station to report the crime, but they don't take him seriously. Tommy is afraid that if the Kellersons find out what he saw, he will be their next victim. And the Kellersons do find out — when Tommy's mother makes him apologize for "lying" about them — and they have every intention to kill him.


This film provides examples of:

  • Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are: The scene towards the end when the Kellersons looks for Tommy at the run-down, empty building.
  • Crying Wolf: The Central Theme of the film and An Aesop for Tommy. Had he not invented all those stories, his parents would have been more inclined to believe his murder story.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: The mother denies Tommy lunch and dinner so that he would eventually come to his senses.
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  • Disney Villain Death: Mr Kellerson falls to his death from great height at the end of the Climbing Climax.
  • Door Handle Scare: Tommy tries to unlock the apartment door from the inside but fails but the rattling of the door knob alerts his father who approaches the door from the outside. Then the father opens the door which in turn gives the boy a good scare because he was expecting his evil neighbors to show up.
  • Dramatic Irony: Much of the film's appeal comes from the fact that we know that Tommy's story is true but his parents are unsuspecting and leave him home alone with the killer neighbors.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Mrs. Kellerson checks the window after the murder but doesn't see Tommy crouching below the ledge.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Mr Kellerson knows that Tommy has told his story to his parents but he is relieved to learn that the boy did not alert the police... which was a lie.
  • He Knows Too Much: The Kellersons decide for Tommy to have an "accident" so he couldn't continue spreading the rumors about their murder.
  • Hope Spot: When the officer checks on the Kellerson's apartment he notices a cleaned up spot on the carpet. However, the tenants can convince him that it's due to the leaking roof.
  • Instant Death Bullet: The murder victim drops dead instantly after a scissor wound to his back.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Mr. Kellerson tries to make Tommy fall from the fire escape to his death but Tommy only faked his drowsiness and escapes onto the rooftop.
  • Mr. Imagination: Tommy is notorious for making up stories.
  • Paper Key-Retrieval Trick: Tommy manages to unlock the door to his room by pushing the key out the other side and then snatching it with a hanger underneath the door.
  • Police Are Useless: The detectives at the station dismiss Tommy's report and later the cop on the street doesn't get suspicious when Tommy screams for help in the cab. The cop even taunts Tommy with his line "A few lickings never hurt anyone". Poor Tommy.
  • Rear Window Witness: Tommy is watching from the fire escape as his neighbors murder a man.
  • Roofhopping: During the Climbing Climax Tommy and Mr. Kellerson hop between rooftops.
  • Shear Menace: Mrs. Kellersons kills the victim by stabbing him in the back with a pair of scissors.
  • Slipping a Mickey: The Kellersons drugged the sailor before stealing his money. However, the man awakes and a fight ensues which ends with the Kellersons killing the man.
  • Train Escape: Subverted. Tommy tries to lose the Kellersons by leaping onto the next metro but it leaves the station before Tommy can reach it.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Kellersons intend on killing Tommy because he saw them commit a murder. At one point, Mr. Kellerson punches Tommy out in the taxi.


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