Tommy (Bobby Driscoll) is a little boy with a big imagination, and he's always making up stories that get him into trouble. But one night, sleeping on the fire escape, he awakes to witness a murder through the window of the apartment above his own. And no one will believe him when he tells them what he's seen - no one, that is, except the killers...
This exciting variation on the old "Cry Wolf" tale was scripted by Mel Dinelli from a short story by Cornell Woolrich, and is generally considered one of the best B-movies of its period. It certainly features one of the best performances by tragic child star Driscoll, who was given a special Oscar for his work here, where he is completely believable and showed real promise. You may remember Driscoll from Treasure Island - or as the object of Robert Crumb's brother's obsession in the 1990s documentary Crumb.
Basically the film takes the safe, artificial danger of children's games - cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians - and turns it on its head when real peril threatens. Of course, Tommy's parents are kind and understanding up to a point, but under real stress due to their lack of money, and the last thing they need more trouble from their son.
Tenement life in the 1940s is realistically portrayed, with its poverty (the husband and wife upstairs kill for money) and overcrowding - when Tommy makes up a story about moving away, hopeful tenants arrive at his home within hours. But the suspense is kept up through the sheer claustrophobia of the world shown here - William Steiner's moody, black and white photography is a bonus.
The Window builds up its edgy quality slowly, but the thrill sequences of the last half hour reward your patience: Tommy trying to snag the key to his bedroom with a coathanger while the killer lurks behind the door, Tommy kidnapped in the back of a taxi calling for an unhelpful policeman, and the deadly chase through the dilapidated buliding at the end. One thing, though; surely if Tommy was killed, then the police would have reason to believe his story and go after the murderers? Music by Roy Webb.