The Woman in the Window
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Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Release Date: 10-JUL-2007
Media Type: DVD
Fritz Lang did his best work in Hollywood throughout the 1940s, and The Woman in the Window ranks among his best films from that period. Equally adept at crafting first-rate Westerns and melodramatic thrillers, Lang returned to the latter category for The Woman in the Window, a deliciously devious follow-up to 1944's Ministry of Fear and a near-perfect companion piece to Lang's 1945 follow-up, Scarlet Street. Adapted by producer/screenwriter Nunnally Johnson from J.H. Wallis's novel Once Off Guard, this briskly paced and brilliantly plotted thriller begins with a chance encounter between mild-mannered psychology professor Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson) and Alice Reed (Joan Bennett), the stylishly alluring subject of a portrait that Wanley has dreamily admired in a window near the men's club where he socializes with a savvy District Attorney (Raymond Massey) and a friendly physician (Edmund Breon). When Alice invites Wanley to her apartment for casual drinks and conversation, Wanley is forced to kill an intruder, and his subsequent cover-up leads to a nail-biting plot in which Wanley must feign innocence as he "innocently" participates in the D.A.'s investigation with a homicide detective.
Lang was an expert at turning the screws of suspense, and while Johnson's screenplay tempers its convenient coincidences with well-written characters, Robinson's increasing desperation is the engine that drives the plot. When a sleazy blackmailer (Dan Duryea) squeezes Wanley and Reed for every penny they've got, The Woman in the Window winds up to a fever pitch, with a "twist" ending that's either a cop-out or clever, depending on your tolerance for now-familiar surprises. As renowned critic Pauline Kael astutely noted, The Woman in the Window has "the logic and plausibility of a nightmare," and Lang surely enjoyed the superbly cast trio of Robinson, Bennett, and Duryea, for he invited them back for Scarlet Street just a few months later. And speaking of murder, check out the kid playing Robinson's son in one of the opening scenes: that's future real-life murder-conspiracy suspect Bobby (Robert) Blake (subsequently acquitted), at the innocent age of 10. --Jeff Shannon
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valiant and shady characters, true natures being revealed, dark streets at night, ominous cinematography, hovering at the edge of discovery, the femme-fatale, a torrid mystery, etc., etc., etc. ...
this one has it all and is a lot of fun! ... enjoyed every minute! :-)
"The Woman in the Window" is a great film noir starring the great Edward G. Robinson as a mild mannered New York City professor. He packs his wife and kids off to the country at the beginning of the summer as was the custom back before the days of air conditioning, and he begins his three month bachelorhood by joining two friends at his private club, one of which is D.A. Frank Lalor (Raymond Massey). Before entering his club, though, he appreciates a painting of a beautiful woman, "the woman in the window". His two friends see him staring, kid him about it, and they proceed to have a conversation in which the D.A. talks about how many cases he sees in which a small wrong step by an ordinarily law-abiding citizen leads to major crime.
The rest of the film is basically a demonstration of what the D.A. spoke about when you mix Robinson's mild professor with the actual flirtatious woman in the window (Joan Bennett), add a case of homicide in self-defense under seemingly scandalous circumstances where there is no way to prove self-defense, and finally introduce a seedy blackmailing P.I. (Dan Duryea) into the mix. The film has many twists and turns and you can feel your guts wrenching along with Robinson's as he watches the police come closer and closer to his door with every update he gets from his friend the D.A. who thinks he is just sharing an interesting case with a professor of criminology.
The end then takes a sharp turn and totally surprises you.
This film was so good that Fritz Lang followed it up the following year with an even better effort - Scarlet Street - with Robinson, Duryea, and Bennett playing similar parts as they did in this film. There's even a painting as a central plot point in this second film as well.
The video and audio are terrific quality in this film. My only complaint is the same one I have with most MGM classic releases - absolutely no extras whatsoever. All you have are scene selections and alternate language selections. Highly recommended anyways, but be sure you follow it up by watching "Scarlet Street".
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He always gave his best :)