Woman in the Window, The (1944)

“The flesh is still strong, but the spirit grows weaker by the hour.”

Woman in the Window Poster

Synopsis:
When his wife and kids go away for the summer, a middle-aged professor (Edward G. Robinson) becomes intrigued by the real-life model (Joan Bennett) of a portrait near his office and accompanies her to her apartment, where he kills her jealous lover (Arthur Loft) in self-defense. They arrange to dump the body, but soon Robinson’s friends — a D.A. (Raymond Massey) and a doctor (Edmund Breon) — involve him in the case, while Bennett is blackmailed by a menacing man (Dan Duryea).

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary writes, the opening sequence of this Fritz Lang film — like many others in Lang’s oeuvre, including the same year’s Ministry of Fear (1944) — “opens up his trap for another innocent man to fall into”; in Lang’s films, “it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re guilty of a crime — you still have to pay for it”. Peary notes that this “superlative melodrama” is “smoothly written by Nunnally Johnson” and “masterfully builds tension”, with Lang building “on Robinson’s guilt so he’s almost giving himself away, and on his paranoia so he can feel the web of the law closing in on him”. He ends his review by noting that this is a “fine companion piece to Lang’s Scarlet Street (1945)” — indeed, comparisons are inevitable, given the reappearance of Robinson, Bennett, AND Duryea in key roles. While both films represent living nightmares for middle-aged men, Robinson’s culpability differs: he’s so miserably henpecked in Scarlet Street that we don’t blame him for being lured into Bennett’s web, while his character in WITW simply suffers from boredom, naivete, and momentary stupidity (going to a beautiful woman’s apartment to look at art work? yeah, right). To that end, the “hokey and familiar” but “crowd-pleasing” “twist ending” feels appropriate for Woman in the Window:

MINOR SPOILER ALERT

Robinson learns his lesson, but isn’t unduly punished.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Edward G. Robinson as the professor (nominated by Peary as one of the Best Actors of the Year in his Alternate Oscars)
    Woman in the Window Robinson
  • Joan Bennett as Alice Reed
    Woman in the Window Bennett
  • Milton Krasner’s cinematography
    Woman in the Window Cinematography

Must See?
Yes, as another fine flick by Lang.

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One Response to “Woman in the Window, The (1944)”

  1. Agreed, a must.

    This is a very solid and entertaining crime drama…and you really can’t go wrong with Edward G. in just about anything! He’s always interesting to watch – here, particularly so as he is very adept in not only transitioning from his character’s position of respectability but in the way he gingerly handles himself as he’s dragged along by ‘the law’…not as a possible suspect but as an observer.

    A very satisfying watch from start to finish and a strong example of director Lang’s work.

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