Drama · Film Noir

Let This be a Lesson, Kids

Behold! Doth mine pants burn yonder?
Bobby Driscoll as a habitual liar who witnesses a murder.

Sometimes we feel life would be better if liars’ pants did catch on fire.

Wouldn’t that be handy! Instead of listening to absurd protestations of innocence by a patently guilty party, we could simply point to the fibber’s roasty pants as proof of their deceit.

But, until someone perfects that little party trick, we must be satisfied with movies about liars who get caught lying. Sort of.

Speaking of liars, have you ever seen the 1949 flick, The Window? This little-known film noir gem stars child actor Bobby Driscoll, who made a name for himself in Disney movies. (We know what you’re thinking: Pffft! Film noir with a Disney kid? Nice try.)

No, really! The Window is a gritty piece of business, completely stripped of glamour. Along with Driscoll, we see Arthur Kennedy, as a tired working-class father who’s always scheduled on the night shift. Barbara Hale (who later became Della Street on Perry Mason) is his wife, an apron-wearing woman with very large sleeves in all her dresses. And here’s a toned-down Ruth Roman with minimal makeup and homemade outfits.

The story is based on the old Aesop’s fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf. In the movie, Driscoll plays Tommy, a boy who constantly tells tall tales. He can’t help himself! He lies about having a ranch, claims he’s moving there, then says he’s going to shoot a bunch of Native Americans. His parents are at their wit’s end with this boy; he just won’t stop making things up!

Until the day he witnesses a murder and no one believes him.

The movie has an rough, unpolished look, which is unsettling; it seems a bit seedy and capable of showing you things you’re not used to seeing in a movie from the 1940s.

Then, when the murderers find out that Driscoll’s character Knows, the tension intensifies. The murderers need to eliminate the boy. Twisted? You bet, and the script does nothing to quell your fears. Some scenes make you feel positively panicked.

So, kids, what’s the moral of the story? Remember to always tell the truth and make it a priority to watch The Window. 

The Window: starring Arthur Kennedy, Bobby Driscoll, Barbara Hale and Ruth Roman. Written by Mel Dinelli. Directed by Ted Tetzlaff. RKO Radio Pictures, BW, 1949, 75 mins.

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3 thoughts on “Let This be a Lesson, Kids

  1. Ruth, THE WINDOW is one of my favorite film noirs, too, and you really captured it with your great blend of humor and foreboding! Too had Bobby Driscoll had a sad life in later years, but his excellent performance sticks in my memory. Cinematographer-turned-director Ted Tetzlaff nailed the gritty urban atmosphere. Excellent post!

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