A boy, who likes to make up stories, witnesses a murder; but his parents do not believe him, and the murderers go after him.
Tommy Woodry (Bobby Driscoll) plays with a toy gun and tells tall tales to his friends and his parents Mary Woodry (Barbara Hale) and Ed Woodry (Arthur Kennedy). The landlord thinks they are moving because of what Tommy said about a ranch. Ed warns Tommy he may have to punish him for lying. On a hot night Tommy sleeps on the fire escape. Through a window he sees Joe Kellerson (Paul Stewart) stab a man with scissors. Tommy tells his mother, but she does not believe him.
In the morning Tommy tells his dad the couple upstairs killed a man. Ed assumes it was a dream and tells Tommy not to lie. Tommy tells his mother that denying what he saw would be a lie. Tommy goes to a police station and reports the murder. Detective Ross goes with Tommy and leaves him with his mother. Ross calls on Joe and Jean Kellerson (Ruth Roman) to look around for repairs. He sees the rug is wet. Mary takes Tommy to apologize to Jean. Tommy is afraid they will kill him.
Jean brings a telegram for Mary, who needs to visit her sister. Ed works at night, and Tommy is afraid to be alone. Tommy writes a note he is running away and that what he said about the Kellersons is true. When he unlocks the door, his father comes in. Ed locks Tommy in his room.
At 2 a.m. Joe goes in and rips off the part of the note about him. Joe helps Tommy unlock his door and asks him what he saw. Tommy denies he told the police. Joe and Jean go with Tommy to the police but try to grab him. Tommy runs and is chased. They catch him and put him in a taxi. Tommy sees a cop and shouts "Help!" The cop believes the Kellersons' story even though he knows Tommy was at the police station. Joe knocks Tommy out and carries him upstairs.
Ed comes home, looks for Tommy, and finds the note. Ed asks a cop. Joe puts unconscious Tommy on the edge of the fire escape. Jean has qualms. Tommy wakes up and climbs the ladder to the roof. Joe follows him, but Tommy hides. The cop offers to take Ed to where his wife is, and Tommy sees them leave in a car. Joe looks for Tommy and chases him. In a condemned building the stairs collapse. Tommy causes Joe to fall to his death. Tommy screams, and neighbors hear. Ed and Mary see that Tommy is trapped. Police bring a net, and Tommy jumps into it. They decide to go to the police station, and Ed promises Tommy that he will believe him.
This thriller depicts the frustration a child feels
when parents and others will not take seriously important things
he has to say. The social dilemma is distinguishing a child's
fantasies from reality. Aesop's fable is that if a boy cries wolf
too many times when there is no wolf, no one will believe him
when there is one. Thus we need to safeguard our integrity by