I’m indebted to Barry Ergang fo the email he sent touting the showing of this film(and one other) on Turner Classic. Based on a short story, The Boy Who Cried Murder, by Cornell Woolrich. The host of the showing said the film was originally shot in 1947, but shelved buy new studio owner Howard Hughes because he didn’t like kid movies. But after mismanagement by Hughes and threats of studio collapse, other heads prevailed and it was released in 1949 to great success. A 210,000 budget was greatly exceeded and brought the ailing studio success.
One interesting bit was, though set in a very hot summer(mention was made of mid-nineties temperatures), it was shot in the middle of winter in New York City. Cast wore summer clothes and sprayed to simulate sweat, then bundled in heavy coats and fed hot soup when not in scenes.
Tommy Woodry(Bobby Driscoll) liked to tell tales, always regaling his friends with stories of the ranch his dad owned and how they were soon to move there after all the Indians were killed. It almost cost the family their apartment when the landlord brought prospective tenants to see it because they were moving in a few days. Mom and dad were furious. Barbara Hale plays mother Mary and Arthur Kennedy dad Ed.
That very night, Tommy sleeps on the fire escape trying to beat the heat, climbing a floor where it was a bit cooler. There, outside the window of Joe(Paul Stewart) and Jean(Ruth Rman) Kellerson, Tommy witnesses them murder a man they were robbing, stabbing him with a pair of scissors. He neaks away as they hide the body in an abandoned building.
Of course no one believes him. Just another one of his stories. The parents castigate him. He sneaks out to the cops and they don’t buy it either. Mom even makes him apologize to the Kellersons, putting him on their radar.
That’s the meat of the film, his running, capture, escape, and showdown in the same abandoned building where the murder victim was hid.
A good film.