And Jerry Mathers as… Petie

An American family break down spawns the events of Shadow on the Window. At the core, a separated couple. They argued over whether the woman needs to work and the man – a detective – stood his ground as the matriarch and proud provider. She does go to work though, ending up in a home invasion and murder, committed by 20-somethings who were victims of divorce or broken homes.

Jerry Mathers plays a witness who escaped the chaos. He’s led to police who begin a hunt for mom when Mathers is too in shock to speak. That investigation fills a chunk of Shadow on the Window, taking police into questionable bars, meeting with cheating husbands, and hunting through the dregs of late ‘50s society. It’s not particularly thrilling (audiences know where the leads will take police), if seedy enough for that period to leave an impression.

Shadow on the Window simplistically provides terror

Shadow on the Window sticks with workmanlike direction and a handful of studio sets; it’s not innovative. Co-star Betty Garrett plays a woman intended to be 27 (she was 38 at the time), but her story behind-the-scenes sticks out. Blacklisted because of her husband’s (Larry Parks) communist party involvement, Garrett starred here in a film aiming at those fears.

Home invasion thrillers underwent a growth spurt during the decade, and here, it’s a pure American farmhouse that’s under attack from unruly outsiders. In the first shot, Mathers plays outside, hopping on a tractor before a hearing a scream. Terror is instant, shattering the idealism.

For the finale, good guys rush in, guns drawn as they surround this house. It’s 30 against one, an overpowering sense of togetherness versus the feeble thug inside. Garrett makes it out safely. The family rejoins. All is well again because the outsiders were defeated. That’s all it took, plus the re-assembly of the traditional familial unit.

Certainly relegated to a double bill’s lower half, Shadow on the Window simplistically provides terror, and lots of scenes where people hunch over desks aggressively to make their point. Hardly enthralling, but a time capsule with limited meat on its bones.

Video

Great gray scale stands out in the B&W cinematography. Shadows reach superb depth when needed, while exteriors draw in plentiful sunlight. It’s naturally flush with depth, and in spite of pedestrian style, looks better than the budget suggests.

The opening film in Mill Creek’s Noir Archive 3 Blu-ray set, Shadow on the Window pairs with two additional films on the first disc. That impacts grain structure minimally, appearing natural and firm with little visible loss to compression; this looks like film. Print damage impacts dissolves and not much else. Even then, it’s only a matter of minor specks or scratches.

Shadow on the Window looks recently mastered judging by resolution and clarity. Detail sticks out with excellent all-around texture. Definition remains stable. Close-ups produce facial definition, while the handful of exteriors resolve even minor details.

Audio

In the heartiest challenge facing this DTS-HD mono track, a rooftop shoot-out pushes highs usually problematic for something this vintage. Not so here. Treble is stable and pure, dusted with age but with no detriment.

Stability at the source keeps the track performing well. Dialog sits comfortably and audibly even when up against music or action.

Extras

Nothing.

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The Shadow in the Window
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Movie

Routine direction and B-tier status only mildly hampers The Shadow on the Window, a Colombia home invasion thriller with notable subtext.

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