Cornell Woolrich - the author of The Boy Cried Murder (The Window)
After visiting this my Film Noir page it's hard not
to notice that the Pulp Fiction Master Cornell Woolrich
is my favourite crime writer of the 20th century.
The man behind Crime Noir in it's most darkly romantic and heart-wrenching
form and maybe the most beautiful Feel Bad crime novels and stories
After the pioneering crime writing of Dashiell Hammet and Raymond Chandler
Woolrich were one of the 1930's authors who with his dark stories submitted
to a plethora of Detective Magazines created the Pulp Fiction genre.
The stories who became the basis for and inspired the films of the 1940's
and 1950's, the
films who later was to be named Film Noir. A genre
who has defined the archetypes for all modern crime- and thriller movies.
Woolrich may be the most filmatized writer of Pulp Fiction
ever, and new movies from world wide based on his writings keep turning
up on a regular basis.
One of his stories, The Boy Cried Murder (sometimes
called The Boy Cried Wolf or Fire Escape) was originally published in
1947 (Book Magazine) and in
Sweden it was published 1983 in the Collection Svarta rosor (se pic
above) with an ugly cover. 13 great stories and presented by our Swedish
expert in the
field of crime litterature, Jan Broberg - R.I.P.
The Window - The Movie
The film was produced by RKO Pictures as a B movie during
the times when billionaire Howard Hughes were the boss. Low-budget and
shot on scene in
New York (maybe as early as 1947) and with lesser known actors, and
the result - AMAZING! But, even though this, the playboy wasn't satisfied
withheld the film from release until 1949. Maybe there were to few boobs
for Hughes to enjoy, no Jane Russel shaking her assets?
Well, anyway, the film became a huge success among both the public and
the filmcritics and the child actor Bobby Driscoll was awarded a prize
for his role as the 9-year old Tommy.
Ruth Roman is looking for Tommy in the chase scene,
Lower East Side, NY
The Story and the movie is something of a companion-piece
to Woolrich's story Rear Window originally published
in Dime Detective in 1942 as It Had to
be Murder, and famously filmatized by Alfred Hitchcock, in that both
stories uses the plot element that someone witnesses a murder through
and that the murderer gets to know that his neighbour knows.
In this film 9-year old NY boy Tommy Woodry (Bobby Driscoll) - in the
story Charlie, and he's 12 year old. He lives with his parents Ed (Arthur
and mother Mary (Barbara Hale) in a dilapidated workers neighbourhood
at Lower East Side New York. He's an imaginative child and often tell
stories with which he harasses his friends and parents, and the film
starts off with a quote from Aesopius about the boy who cried
During a hot summer night he tries to sleep on
the fire escape staircase outside his window and he witnesses a murder
committed in the apartment above.
The Horrible Kellersons - a Night
So, when young Tommy peeps through the window of the
apartment above he sees the Kellersons (Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman)
rob and kill a drunk man,
and when he terrified and excited tell his parents about it, they won't
believe him. It doesn't get better when he tell the local police about
it, and it definitely
doesn't get better when his mother drags him to the apartment above
for him to apologize to the nice Kellersons.
When his mother has to visit some relatives and his father has to work
his nightshift, then Tommy is all alone in the apartment and the killer
that Tommy knows. A night of terror is a-coming.
This is a thriller in the Child in Peril
genre so we know that in the end the child won't be murdered. That's
a part of the film- making and -watching rules,
with the possible exception of old Hong Kong or Jesse France movies
perhaps, and it would be too Feel Bad otherwise.
Tetzlaff manages to create some heavy suspense and there's some beautiful
atmospherical Film Noir cinematography by William Steiner and fine acting,
and especially then from the Kid, 10 year old Bobby Driscoll.
So, very recommended this Crime-Noir is, and with very fine child actor.
How's that possible ? Child actors usually sucked, in old films (better
chirpy and annoying but Bobby Driscoll, on loan from Disney, got a well
deserved Oscar for Outstanding Juvenile Actor of 1949.
The Tragic Life of Bobby Driscoll
The fate of talented child-actor
Bobby Driscoll is one of the most tragic and he has been "rewarded"
with a chapter of hos own in avant-garde filmmaker
Kenneth Anger's infamous and depressing Hollywood Babylon 1-2 with sad
tales from the dark side of Hollywood. His own chapter - that means
serious misery. I will not dwell too much on this
here, but Bobby was one of the most successful child-actors of his day,
in the 1940's and beginning of
the 1950's and he was a huge star in Disney movies. But, when he turned
teenager the fun was over, he got acne, started taking drugs and was
for robbery and murder attempt. In 1968, his dead body was found in
a condemned house on the Lower East Side, New York, the same place where
Window, his proudest moment as an actor, was shot. He was 31 years old
and it took 19 months until his body was identified. That's some Feel
Even though this film is considered a classic and was
hailed by the filmgoers and critics alike, and earned RKO a lot of money,
it's sadly forgotten today
and this DVD is a disc made on demand from Warner Brothers Archive Collection.
Kids world-wide watches streams today and won't buy any discs, so
i guess old pathetic dudes as me are the only one's showing excitement
over old black & white films as this.
But, still, when i wrote this text the first time in 2012 you could,
since some 2 years, indulge in the thousands of old films that WB, Sony
et al. has released
in their Archive Collection series, restored and burned on demand on
DVD-R discs. A tresure for all filmlovers and cineaste.
The film is presented in original 4:3 fullscreen 1.33:1
black & white DD mono english audio, no extras, region ALL