Saturday 16 December 2023

Movie Review: The Woman In The Window (1944)

Genre: Noir Crime Drama
Director: Fritz Lang
Starring: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea, Raymond Massey
Running Time: 99 minutes

Synopsis: With his family on vacation, stodgy Professor Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson) meets alluring model Alice Reed (Joan Bennett), who invites him for drinks at her place. Before long another man bursts in, a struggle ensues, and Richard kills the stranger in self defence. Fearing his life will be ruined if he calls the police, Richard plots with Alice to dump the body and tell no one. But District Attorney Frank Lalor (Raymond Massey), who is also Richard's friend from their social club, starts to assemble the clues, and the threat level rises when crooked ex-cop Heidt (Dan Duryea) shows up with blackmail on his mind.

What Works Well: Playing on classic noir themes of an innocent man who succumbs - just once - to a temptress and tumbles into a pile of trouble, director Fritz Lang and writer Nunnally Johnson accentuate the details. Richard is a studious professor of crime, and therefore attempts to carefully think his way out of his predicament. But in a study of unintended consequences, his every step and every statement expose him to self-incriminating risks. Edward G. Robinson is a perfect bourgeois in over his head, Joan Bennett sells dangerous allure, and Dan Duryea arrives in the second half with bags of oleaginous ill intent.

What Does Not Work As Well: The District Attorney is very quick to connect the dots, and while cleverly delivered, the ending chooses a safe pathway over edgier alternatives.

Conclusion: One mistake is all it takes.

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