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The Woman in the Window (1944) HD online

The Woman in the Window (1944) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Crime / Drama / / Mystery / Thriller
Original Title: The Woman in the Window
Director: Fritz Lang
Writers: Nunnally Johnson,J.H. Wallis
Released: 1944
Duration: 1h 47min
Video type: Movie
Gotham College professor Wanley and his friends become obsessed with the portrait of a woman in the window next to the men's club. Wanley happens to meet the woman while admiring her portrait, and ends up in her apartment for talk and a bit of champagne. Her boyfriend bursts in and misinterprets Wanley's presence, whereupon a scuffle ensues and the boyfriend gets killed. In order to protect his reputation, the professor agrees to dump the body and help cover up the killing, but becomes increasingly suspect as the police uncover more and more clues and a blackmailer begins leaning on the woman.
Complete credited cast:
Edward G. Robinson Edward G. Robinson - Prof. Richard Wanley
Joan Bennett Joan Bennett - Alice Reed
Raymond Massey Raymond Massey - District Attorney Frank Lalor
Edmund Breon Edmund Breon - Dr. Michael Barkstane
Dan Duryea Dan Duryea - Heidt / Tim, the Doorman
Thomas E. Jackson Thomas E. Jackson - Inspector Jackson, Homicide Bureau
Dorothy Peterson Dorothy Peterson - Mrs. Wanley
Arthur Loft Arthur Loft - Claude Mazard / Frank Howard / Charlie the Hatcheck Man
Frank Dawson Frank Dawson - Collins--Steward

Edward G. Robinson, Dan Duryea, and Joan Bennett would go on to play the three leads in Fritz Lang's next film Scarlet Street (1945).

"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on June 25, 1945 with Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea and Edward G. Robinson reprising their film roles.

Was based loosely on J.H. Wallis' 1942 novel, "Once Off Guard".

The painting of Alice Reed was done by Paul Clemens. He painted portraits of many Hollywood stars, often with their children. He was married to Eleanor Parker from 1954 to 1965.

Raymond Massey was borrowed from Paramount for this film.

Wanley's car is a 1937 Cadillac Series 65 Touring sedan. MSRP new was $2,190 ($39,300 in 2018). 7,003 of this model were made.

Was released on DVD by MGM on July 10, 2007.

The last film role for George 'Spanky' McFarland for 42 years until The Aurora Encounter (1986), which would be his final one.

Dist. Atty. Frank Lalor explaining to the Professor Richard Wanley and the Dr. Michael Barkstane how two murderers are fearing each other, each wondering how long it'll be before the other is caught and blabs out the whole story, is an example of the "Prisoner's Dilemma", which is widely analyzed in the Game Theory.

Edward G Robinson's choice of reading material on the night of his encounter, The Song of Songs, is a clear harbinger of things to come, in that it celebrates romantic love.

Fritz Lang claimed that the ending, which all turns out to be a dream, was his idea, because he felt the idea of Wanley committing suicide was too anticlimactic.



Reviews: [25]

  • avatar

    Thundershaper

    This wonderfully entertaining "film noir" by master director Fritz Lang is a curiosity, defying all of our expectations as a viewer and basically subverting the "noir" genre barely before it had gotten started. The dark shadows, the femme fatale, the harboiled detectives, the murder... all the elements are in place for a typical outing, but when all is said and done, look back at the motivations, the events, even the "femme", and what we have is not a world of evil (the typical "noir" stance) but a world of innocence darkened by a few petty thugs. Like the more obviously subversive (and equally wonderful) "Kiss Me Deadly" fifteen years later, "The Woman in the Window" seems to say that evil only lives when people look hard enough for it - practically a "film noir" rebuttal. As in "M" and "Fury," Lang (a refugee from the Nazi regime) once again examines issues of social evil in ways more complex than any of his contemporaries. Enjoy "The Woman in the Window." The cast is impeccable, the writing a delight, the direction peerless, the music score years ahead of its time. A small feast.
  • avatar

    Nicearad

    It's hard to tell which element of "The Woman in the Window" (1944) contributes most to its excellence: script, direction, casting, performances, lighting, cinematography, scoring. So, it's probably safe to say, "All of the above!" "TWITW" introduces us to Assoc. Prof. Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson) of Gotham College, who has just seen his wife and two kids (young Robert Blake is "Dickie" Wanley) off for a two week summer vacation. Just prior to entering his men's club, he is captivated by the portrait of a beautiful woman in the display window of a neighboring storefront. His club member friends, District Attorney Frank Lalor (Raymond Massey) and surgeon Dr. Barkstane (Edmond Breon) notice him staring at the portrait and indulge the temporary "bachelor professor" in some good-natured ribbing before the three enter the club for drinks and conversation. As the evenings winds down, the doctor having subscribed some medication for Prof. Wanley who has complained of fatigue, the colleagues leave. Prof. Wanley asks for a 10:30 PM call in the event that he dozes off while reading in his club chair. Upon leaving the club, Wanley again stops at the portrait; and standing behind him is the model, Alice Reed (Joan Bennett), who posed for the artist. She admits that she frequently comes to the spot to check out people's rections to the painting. The small talk leads the two to an innocent drink at a club followed by a visit to her sumptuous apartment, where she shows Wanley other sketches by the artist.

    The intrusion of an insanely jealous lover leads to struggle, murder (in self-defense) and a quandary: How do two non-merderous strangers go about covering up a murder, disposing of a body (a large one), and manage to trust eachother in the process? The body turns out to be the type of man who warrants headlines. Wanley's friendship with the D.A. gets him invited on a "field trip" to the spot where the body was found. Here we meet the Chief Inspector, beautifully portrayed by Thomas E. Jackson). Through a series of delightfully handled mishaps, the gentle professor manages to exhibit elements about himself which would conspire to make him a prime suspect had the very prospect not been so ludicrous. A sleazy, but extremely clever blackmailer (Dan Duryea) is introduced. How he becomes involved, we'll leave unsaid, so as not to spoil some of the film's outstanding storytelling. The characters are three dimensional. Massey, as the D.A. is both a condescending stuffed-shirt and a caring friend. Jackson, as the Inspector is superbly understated, an affable exterior housing a brilliant mind for detection. Bennett and Duryea are both fine, although some of the dialog between them could easily have been cut to the improvement of the film overall. Robinson is excellent as the unassuming, bright but vulnerable professor. The Nunnally Johnson-Arthur Lange script is right-on, with the noted exceptions. Director Fritz Lang has created a taut, superb suspense tale. "The Woman in the Window" could easily have had either of two endings, one tragically ironic, one concocted to satisfy audiences in search of more delectably amusing resolution. I'll never tell. This film deserves any healthy debate about its ending every bit as much now, in the year 2000, as it did during its first release in 1944.
  • avatar

    Pruster

    There's no doubting that Fritz Lang made his best films in his native Germany - the masterpieces 'M' and 'Metropolis' ensure that without the need to mention the likes of Doctor Mabuse; but even so, his American films have some gems - and this quality film noir thriller is certainly one of them. Made with the same cast as Fritz Lang's later 'Scarlet Street', The Woman in the Window is a tale of lust and money, wrapped up in the idea of how life becomes less exciting as you approach middle age. Professor Richard Wanley is a middle-aged man bored with how life is treating him. This boredom is soon to dissipate, however, when he and his friends become obsessed with the portrait of a woman in a shop window. On his way home one night, Richard meets this woman purely by chance and ends up going back to her apartment to look at more artist impressions of her. This ends in tragedy, when her boyfriend comes knocking, and ends up discovering our hero in his girl's apartment! A struggle ensues and the boyfriend ends up dead...Richard agrees to hide the body in order to keep the pair of them from spending time behind bars.

    Many of the ideas later used in Scarlet Street are present here too, and in that respect; The Woman in the Window serves as an interesting prelude to the later film. The film analyses a murder from the moral point of view, rather than being purely for profit. This idea was better realised by Lang later the same year in the aforementioned noir classic, but through it's inspired plotting and unpredictable atmosphere; The Woman in the Window analyses the same idea in a slightly different way. The cast is put to good use, with the great Edward G. Robinson doing a fine job with the lead role. He portrays his character admirably, and the scenes where the finger of suspicion drifts over him sees Robinson at his best. Joan Bennett plays his female counterpart. This beautiful woman is great as the heroine, and it's her performance that gives the film that golden Hollywood feel. The ending is one that could easily have gone wrong, but Lang makes good of it, and it actually makes sense of little nuisances, such as the fact that Robinson is allowed to accompany his policeman friend to a murder scene early on in the film. I would rate Scarlet Street as the must see film of the pair; but if you enjoyed that one, there's no reason why this one shouldn't go down well also.
  • avatar

    Buriwield

    This film puts forward the theory that all middle-aged men are destined to "play-the-sap" for young women, and since it must come to pass, it is prudent to do so in ones fantasies, not in reality. It's a blast listening to Prof. Wanley, (Edward G. Robinson), District Attorney Frank Loler, (Raymond Massey), and Dr. Barkstane, (Edmund Breon), all in their late 40's to late 50's, talking about young women as though they were living bomb-shells. Why, if a middle-aged man gets within 30 feet of a pretty young woman, she could mesmerize him with a glance, make him give her all his possessions for a single kiss, and of course, eventually destroy him completely...with one hand tied behind her back. Indeed, Edmund Breon, who played a middle-aged music box collector in the excellent Rathbone/Sherlock Holmes film, "Dressed To Kill", fell under the thrall of beautiful villainess Patricia Morison in that film, and paid with his life. What got our brave trio talking about young women in the first place is the compelling painting of a beautiful young woman in an art gallery window, which is next store to their club. They all fell in love with her at first sight, with Robinson the last to see it, and the last to have his heart pierced. Massey and Breon are watching him, and start giving Robinson the needle. "We saw her first, so you stay out of it."

    It is Robinson's destiny to meet the woman in the portrait, Alice Reed, played wonderfully by Joan Bennett. Of course he's wary, and full of reservations at this chance meeting. To his credit, he doesn't make a fool out of himself, and Bennett genuinely seems to like him. What Robinson does so effectively in this film is convey very subtly, that he can never really quite accept even the possibility that he could hold this beautiful woman's attention, no matter how charming or interesting he really is. It's never stated but implied, that he thinks she's doing him a favor by making friends with him.

    Of course, this encounter leads to trouble, very serious trouble, and the "Woman In The Window" ventures into the dark waters of blackmail and murder. District Attorney Lalor (Massey) is in charge of the case, making things even more intriguing. It is a compelling film, and Robinson & Bennett are superb in their scenes together. I'll leave you to discover just what kind of woman the mysterious Alice Reed turns out to be. This is a very interesting and enjoyable film.
  • avatar

    Vetitc

    This one was a true nail biter. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Mr. Robinson's performance was believable and Ms. Bennet was beautiful and just as realistic as two people desperate to cover up a crime. This is a film that I highly recommend. It's suspenseful and dramatic. I felt as though I was on a roller coaster ride and couldn't get off. In short, I was a nervous wreck wondering how this film would play out. I highly recommend this one. I almost passed it by but I am eternally grateful that I didn't. Rent it, buy it, but by all means, watch it!!
  • avatar

    Acebiolane

    Following a chance meeting with a beautiful young woman, a forty-something professor unwittingly becomes involved in murder and blackmail while his family is away on vacation. Robinson is wonderful as always as the professor who is in over his head because of a moment's indiscretion. Bennett looks stunningly beautiful as the kind of woman who can lead any man astray. Duryea is appropriately slimy as a blackmailer. Lang is at the top of his form in this atmospheric and efficiently made film noir. Some feel cheated by the ending but it is actually quite clever. Interestingly enough, Lang reunited with Robinson, Bennett, and Duryea in his next film, "Scarlet Street."
  • avatar

    Kagrel

    "Woman in the Window" is one of my favourite Hollywood films of the forties and is in fact included in my "Top Ten" movies of all time. Expertly directed by Fritz Lang and starring Edward G. Robinson, the delectable Joan Bennett in a wonderfully seductive performance, and the sinister Dan Duryea it has a fascinating storyline, some outstanding acting and a "twist in the tale". Robinson is respectable Professor Richard Wanley (married with children) whose family are away on holiday. Admiring the painting of a woman in the window of an art gallery near his club he is surprised (and pleased) to see the attractive model (Joan Bennett) standing right next to him. She explains that she often comes along to the gallery to "watch people's faces" when they look at her painting and see how they react. After a few minutes conversation Robinson reluctantly escorts Bennett back to her apartment and the events which ensue lead to murder, blackmail, hardship and deep torment for Robinson whose neat well organised life is thrown into turmoil and disarray. Robinson's friend Frank Lalor (Raymond Massey) is the District Attorney investigating the murder which ironically for Robinson causes him even further complications and gets him unwittingly drawn deeper and deeper into the murder inquiry. Just when it seems that things could not get any worse for Robinson there is a magnificent twist at the end of the movie which comes as a total surprise!!

    Some favourite lines from the film:

    Joan Bennett (to Robinson): "I'm not married. I have no designs on you and one drink is all I care for".

    Robinson (to Bennett): "I should never have stopped to talk with you - I should never never have come here to drink with you". Bennett (to Robinson): "Never?".

    Raymond Massey (to Robinson): "It's all right Richard - don't get excited. We rarely arrest people just for knowing where the body was".

    Bennett (to Dan Duryea): "Are you nuts? I haven't got $5,000 and there isn't any guy to get it from so you may as well go right along to the police and tell them whatever you wish!".

    Although Edward G. Robinson was not the typical leading man type he could always be relied upon to give a good performance and in "Woman in the Window" he was at his very best!! 10 out of 10 for acting, direction, screenplay and photography. The only Oscar nomination this film received was for "best score" which was in my opinion an oversight as I believe in retrospect that both Robinson and Bennett clearly desrved to be nominated for their acting. If you enjoy this film be sure to see "Scarlet Street" (1945) which is another classic "film noir" thriller featuring the same three leading players and with Fritz Lang once again as director. Clive Roberts.
  • avatar

    Dangerous

    This gripping suspense thriller involves a man (Edward G. Robinson) and woman (Joan Bennett) who barely know each other conspiring to cover up a murder which threatens to destroy their lives. Robinson is an aging college professor of criminal justice who thinks there is no adventure left in his life anymore; Bennett is a mysterious and beautiful model. Fritz Lang's brilliant direction and a stunning musical score build the suspense incredibly. However, this superb film is spoiled by a trivializing happy ending, probably imposed on Lang by studio hacks. In all other respects, it is a triumph of film making.
  • avatar

    Dukinos

    Woman in the Window (1944)

    A methodical movie about a methodical cover-up. Edgar G. Robinson is the perfect actor for a steady, rational man having to face the crisis of a murder, and Fritz Lang, who has directed murderousness before, knows also about darkness and fear. There are no flaws in the reasoning, and if there is a flaw to the movie, it is it's very methodical perfection. Even the flaws are perfect, the mistakes made and how they are shown.

    We all at one time or another get away with something, large or small. And this law-abiding man finds himself trapped. He has to succeed, and you think he might. Part of me kept saying, I wouldn't do that, or don't be a fool. But part of me said, it's inevitable, he'll fail, we all would fail. So the movie moves with a steady thoughtful pace. It talks a lot for an American crime film, but it also has the best of night scenes--rainy streets with gleaming dark streets, hallways with glass windows and harsh light, and dark woods (for the body, of course). But there are dull moments, some odd qualities like streets with no parked cars at all, and a leading woman who is a restrained femme fatale, which isn't the best. And then there are twists and suspicions, dodges and subterfuges. And of course Dan Duryea, who makes a great small-time chiseler.
  • avatar

    Zodama

    The Woman in the Window is directed by Fritz Lang and adapted by Nunnally Johnson from the novel "Once off Guard" written by J.H. Wallis. It stars Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Raymond Massey & Dan Duryea. Music is by Arthur Lange and Milton R. Krasner is the cinematographer.

    After admiring a portrait of Alice Reed (Bennett) in the storefront window of the shop next to his Gentleman's Club, Professor Richard Wanley (Robinson) is shocked to actually meet her in person on the street. It's a meeting that leads to a killing, recrimination and blackmail.

    Time has shown The Woman in the Window to be one of the most significant movies in the film noir cycle. It was part of the original group identified by Cahiers du Cinéma that formed the cornerstone of film noir (the others were The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, Laura and Murder My Sweet). Its reputation set in stone, it's a film that boasts many of the key noir ingredients: man meets woman and finds his life flipped upside down, shifty characters, a killing, shadows and low lights, and of course an atmosphere thick with suspense. Yet the ending to this day is divisive and, depending what side of the camp you side with, it makes the film either a high rank classic noir or a nearly high rank classic noir. Personally it bothers me does the finale, it comes off as something that Rod Serling could have used on The Twilight Zone but decided to discard. No doubt to my mind that had Lang put in the ending from the source, this would be a 10/10 movie, for everything else in it is top draw stuff.

    At its core the film is about the dangers of stepping out of the normal, a peril of wish fulfilment in middle age, with Lang gleefully smothering the themes with the onset of a devilish fate and the stark warning that being caught just "once off guard" can doom you to the unthinkable. There's even the odd Freudian interpretation to sample. All of which is aided by the excellent work of Krasner, who along with his director paints a shadowy world consisting of mirrors, clocks and Venetian blinds. The cast are very strong, strong enough in fact for Robinson, Bennett and Duryea to re-team with Lang the following year for the similar, but better, Scarlet Street, while Lang's direction doesn't miss a beat.

    A great film regardless of the Production Code appeasing ending, with its importance in the pantheon of film noir well deserved. But you sense that watching it as a companion piece to Scarlet Street, that Lang finally made the film that this sort of story deserved. The Woman in the Window: essential but not essentially the best of its type. 8/10
  • avatar

    Hugighma

    Herr Lang has another winner here with the same cast that he used in "Scarlet Street" in 1946.....wonderful portrayals from all concerned. In both films, Edward G. is caught up in a situation that traps him and forces him to make decisions that go against his sense of morality. Joan Bennett is gorgeous as the beautiful woman who ensnares Robinson in her troubles. Dan Duryea again proves that he was one hell of an actor.....he was stereotyped throughout his career in roles in which he was a coward, a weakling and a thoroughly unlikeable guy and nobody played it better. The story line is gripping and you feel as trapped as Edward G. BUT, it is that ending!!!!! Lang never was one for the easy out but here he must have been desperate to tie up all the loose ends and come up with a believable solution...so he tacks on the worst ending since the Bobby Ewing/Dallas explanation! I was disappointed that he would stoop to something so pat (and he is one of my favorite directors). This film could go down as a true classic and should have except for the ending....that knocked it right off the list. Still, it is very much worth watching and I would recommend it to all who love film noir.
  • avatar

    Deorro

    I would have rated this higher except I don't like endings where the whole story turns out to be nothing but a dream. That is unfair to any viewer and it also discouraged me from ever watching this again.

    Until then, it was quite good, almost like a Columbo television episode where you know the person who committed the crime early and and then see how the police unravel the mystery, much to the disdain and paranoia of the guilty culprit. In this case, it was two culprits: played by Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett. The story gets better as it goes on with some realistic characters.

    Dan Duryea adds a lot of spark to the story, as the blackmailing bodyguard. He's fun to watch, which is not a surprise if you've seen him other films.
  • avatar

    Use_Death

    When the family of Gotham College Professor Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson) travels, he meets with his close friends Dr. Michael Barkstane (Edmund Breon) and District Attorney Frank Lalor (Raymond Massey) in a club for talking. Wanley is fascinated with the portrait of a young woman in the next door window, and they discuss about affairs and middle-age crisis while drinking. When Wanley leaves the club, he walks to the window to admire the picture once more and he meets Alice Reed (Joan Bennett), who was the model of the painting. She invites him for a drink and they end the night in her apartment for seeing sketches of Alice made by the same artist. While drinking champagne, her temperable lover arrives and misunderstands the presence of Richard, hitting and suffocating him. In self-defense, Richard stabs the man with a pair of scissors on the back and kills him. They decide to get rid off the body, dumping the body in the woods and destroying the evidences, but when they are blackmailed by the scum Heidt (Dan Duryea), Professor Wanley tells Alice that there are only three ways to deal with a blackmailer, all of them with a high price.

    "The Woman in the Window" is another fantastic film-noir of the awesome director Fritz Lang. The engaging and original story has a magnificent and unexpected plot point in the very end. This is one of the best performances of Edward G. Robinson that I have seen and the leading trio - Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea – worked on the next year with Fritz Lang in the masterpiece "Scarlet Street". This is the first time that I see this outstanding movie, following the recommendation of a friend of mine that I would like to thank. My vote is nine.

    Title (Brazil): "Retrato de Mulher" ("Picture of a Woman")
  • avatar

    Gandree

    This is a movie that does a superb job of building suspense. It has wonderful actors such as E. G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Raymond Massey, Dan Duryea and other fine supporting actors who work hard at telling a great story. The brilliant musical score helps tell the story and convey the suspense. BUT, after about 95 minutes of brilliance, the movie is ruined by a cop-out, cliche type of ending. Very disappointing. The fine actors who were in this film and the audiences both in the theatres and on TV deserved much more than this "dumb" finale.......
  • avatar

    Kulabandis

    The Woman in the Window has an ending almost guaranteed to infuriate you the first time you see the movie, and, the second time, to leave you with an immensely satisfied smile.

    "The man who kills in self defense, for instance, must not be judged by the same standards applied to a man who kills for gain." So says middle-aged and happily married Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson), professor of criminal psychology, to his class at Gotham College. Wanley is about to put his dictum to the test. When his wife and their two young children leave for a brief vacation, he dines at his club with two old friends, one a doctor and the other, Frank Lalor (Raymond Massey), the district attorney. Wanley bemoans his increasingly middle-aged life. "I hate this solidity," he says with a rueful smile, "this stodginess I'm beginning to feel. To me, it's the end of the brightness of life, the end of spirit and adventure." His two friends leave and he settles in, before returning to his empty home, with one last brandy and The Song of Songs. When he leaves the club late in the evening he stops, as he often has, and gazes at the portrait in the window of the gallery next door. The woman is lovely...beautiful, with a challenge in her eyes and a gaze that looks right at you. When a voice asks him for a light for her cigarette, the professor turns and is stunned to see that the voice belongs to the woman who posed for the portrait. Alice Reed (Joan Bennett) sometimes stops by the gallery to see the reaction of men when they look at her portrait. The two somehow wind up at a quiet bar, talk and then the professor escorts her to her apartment in a taxi. She invites him up and shows him sketches the artist made of her before painting her portrait. She seems genuinely friendly and honest and the professor apparently has no intention of becoming an adulterer. But when an angry man breaks into her apartment, slaps Alice Reed and attacks Professor Wanley, it's only a matter of seconds before the man is dead, stabbed by Wanley in the back with a pair of scissors handed him by Alice. Professor Wanley's life now begins to spin out of his control.

    He decides to say nothing to the police. He leaves Alice and returns with his car. With her help he gets the body into the back seat and drives it to a deserted parkway, where he disposes of it in the underbrush. The man turns out to be a powerful businessman who had been seeing Alice regularly two or three times a week. The Professor's friend Lalor takes charge of the investigation and invites Wanley to accompany him, thinking the professor of criminology will be interested in how the case is slowly being built up to identify the murderer. Wanley keeps making little errors and mistakes...a ripped coat, a scratched wrist, a tire track in the mud, a slip of the tongue that seems to say Wanley knows more than he should. Lalor begins to look curiously at his old friend. And then the bodyguard (Dan Duryea) of the dead man turns up. He blackmails Alice, who must ask Wanley for help. This time Wanley reluctantly begins to think of murder.

    The Woman in the Window is a fine noir. Some may think it's just the opening act for Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street, filmed the following year with the same three stars, Robinson, Bennett and Duryea. Scarlet Street is a classic, drenched in casual cruelty, loneliness and sadness. The Woman in the Window starts out as a classic noir. Professor Wanley is a man of good intentions whom we like and who finds himself moving in situations well beyond his capability. Joan Bennett's Alice Reed, however, is no Kitty March. Alice may be a kept woman, but she wants to do the right thing as long as she doesn't get in trouble. And she seems genuinely to like and even respect the Professor. Dan Duryea, of course, is a rotter, but he's at least straight forward here. He wants money; he doesn't seem to delight in hitting women. It makes for a movie which puts a premium on the skill of the actors to bring us along with them as events conspire against them. Few were better at this than Edward G. Robinson and, in my opinion, the under-appreciated Joan Bennett.

    So we have a first class noir...and then Fritz Lang pulls the rug out from under us. To fully appreciate The Woman in the Window -- trust me -- you'll need to see it a second time. How about making that second time a double feature? Have some friends over and play Scarlet Street first, then The Woman in the Window. Keep them in that order. You'll have a great main course, and then a great desert.
  • avatar

    IWantYou

    Just a great film. I actually watched (not through choice) the colourised version of this classic film noir, and while that's a debate in itself, I must admit I was seduced by the ochres and browns employed here and wasn't distracted at all by their use. I'm a great fan of Fritz Lang's oeuvre and unlike other critics here no way accept a diminution in his skills when he crossed the pond to Hollywood. I mean pick any one from "Fury", "You only live Once", "Scarlet Street" and this, as entertaining a thriller / fantasy film as you could ever hope to see. I prefer to think that like his great contemporary Hitchcock, he adapted superbly to the mores of the Hollywood studios and generated a great body work almost the equal of "The Master", who don't forget had more pull with the studios, meaning bigger budgets and stars at his disposal to more convincingly project his artistic vision. The story here is of course a cautionary one, "be careful what you wish for" as Edward G Robinson realises every safe middle aged man's fantasy as his dream girl, the alluring Joan Bennett comes to life right on cue to bring some glamour and excitement to his bookish existence. Besides the two leads excellent portrayals, I was impressed by Dan Duryea as the blackmailing heavy but good as the cast are, it's Lang's manipulation of them which attracts most admiration. Okay the "Dallas" meets "Wizard of Oz" ending might seem a bit of a cop-out but that would be griping over next to nothing. This is great Hollywood film noir and thoroughly recommended.
  • avatar

    Ance

    SPOILERS** Fritz Lang had a reputation for stalking around the set barking orders through a megaphone, wearing breeches and riding boots and a monacle, the last of the great cartoons. At least he got the job done. "Woman in the Window" is pretty good noirish stuff. I say "noir-ish" because it's missing one of the principal icons of the genre -- the black snub-nosed .38 revolver. In it's conventional place we have some of Fritz Lang's ideosyncratic icons -- straw hats, mirrors, and scissors.

    Robinson leads a rather stodgy life as an assistant professor at Gotham College. (Who is promoted to department head during the film. How do you do that?) He periodically gets together with two friends for dinner at his club, a doctor and the district attorney, Raymond Massey. One night after leaving the club he runs into Joan Bennett and accepts an invitation to her apartment. An enraged man rushes in and begins strangling Robinson who must stab him repeatedly with a pair of scissors in order to save his own life. Robinson and Bennett then weave the proverbial tangled web. Robinson disposes of the body in some woods north of New York. I should say "a densely wooded area" because that's where all dead bodies are found, including this one, by a Boy Scout who promises that if he gets the reward he will use the money to send his kid brother to Harvard and he himself will go to a GOOD college. (The script by Nunnally Johnson is intelligent and witty, one of the movie's better features.) The story is a big improvement over that of its companion piece, "Scarlet Street," if only because in the latter Robinson had to be an undiscovered genius in painting still lifes. And the paintings we see are sidesplittingly absurd. The acting and the ending in "Woman in the Window" also deserve a comment.

    Robinson had more range than he's usually given credit for. One watches him in "Little Caesar," chewing the scenery, snarling, strutting, grinning idiotically, and the image is stamped on one's brain. But he could do other things as well, and sometimes quite nicely too. His last performance, in "Soylent Green," was one of his best. Joan Bennett was a competent actress, no more than that. She's not much of a femme fatale here, just ordinarily pretty. She lacks the kind of glandular ooze that someone like Gloria Grahame might have brought to the part. Raymond Massey is likewise professional. It's interesting to watch his expression change from scene to scene as he grows more suspicious of Robinson. Each time Robinson takes a step or opens his mouth he seems to drip more clues, and Massey picks up on each one, so that if his friendship with Robinson begins with a smile, it ends with a thoughtful frown. Dan Duryea is a slimier, venomous version of Bob Fosse in both appearance and movement, reed slender and sinister all the way.

    The ending. It seems contrived and tacked on. It's as if someone had tapped the producers on the shoulder half-way through shooting and said you've only got ten minutes left to finish the film. So a minute after leaving Bennett's apartment, with his financial future fixed up and no charges against him, Duryea the blackmailer is told to stop by a policeman, pulls out a gun and starts shooting. The clock must have been ticking because this is completely unmotivated. It does serve the broader purpose of the story however in introducing irony. Duryea seems to have brought ruin to Robinson's life. And by the time of the shootout Robinson has already taken an overdose of something or other and is dozing off into the big sleep without knowing that his suicide is now unnecessary. (It's kind of complicated, I know, but I don't want to take up too much space except to explain that the murder committed by Robinson has now been pinned on the dead Duryea.)

    But -- wait! There is a high-key closeup of Robinson's face going slack and slumping to the side. Is he dead? No -- he's asleep! A hand enters the frame and touches him on the shoulder, and someone says, "Professor, it's ten thirty." He'd fallen asleep in his chair at the club! Perhaps borrowing from "The Wizard of Oz," a shaken Robinson retrieves his coat from the man he murdered and says good-night to Duryea, the hotel doorman, before walking down the late-night street. He peers at the portrait in the window that started the whole business and a tarty woman's face appears in the reflection. She asks him for a light and he runs off, protesting, "Not on your life. Not for a million dollars!"

    It's easy to make fun of a movie like this but it's actually kind of neat. Robinson is no crafty villain, and Joan Bennett appears to be an honest whore, less innocent than he but not at all evil. Everything they do is out of desperation. One feels sorry for both of them, especially Robinson who seems never to have had an impure thought. I didn't even mind the it-was-only-a-dream ending. Sure it's been done before, but it permits the film to end on a comic note, which comes as a relief after all the drama and suspense that has preceded it. Well worth watching.
  • avatar

    Djang

    I just finished watching this film, and quite thoroughly enjoyed it. I won't reiterate what's already been said by many about its strengths. I just want to offer a different opinion on the ending (without actually divulging any of the content of the ending).

    I liked the ending. It took my by surprise, and I think, all in all, fit very very well with the way the movie laid itself out. But I can understand why some people might not like it. But to such people I would point out: the ending is almost optional. Because of the way it's structured, you can, if you choose and prefer, basically just ignore the ending, and treat the movie as finished at the point you believe it ought to have been. Rather the way one watches an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and then rather ignores Hitchcock's final explanation of how the killer eventually got caught.

    I don't want to say too much more because I really don't want to spoil the film for anyone who hasn't seen it. I thought it was excellent.
  • avatar

    hulk

    The war years saw Hollywood's leading men unavailable - Clark Gable, James Stewart, and many others, were otherwise occupied. At this point, some of the better character actors stepped up to starring roles they might not otherwise have gotten. The darkness of the war years also did a bit to loosen the grip of the production code by allowing darker plots than would otherwise pass inspection, but the evildoers still had to be punished in the end. This began the trend of "film noir" - related to their predecessors, the precodes, by examining the seedy side of life, but emphasizing the duality of man's nature rather than the sexual angles and the evolving roles of women and men in society as the films of the early 30's tended to do.

    "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.
  • avatar

    Vrion

    Overrated film-noir from revered director Fritz Lang, an adaptation by Nunnally Johnson from J.H. Wallis' book "Once Off Guard", has Edward G. Robinson playing a college professor and family man who becomes involved in a murder, desperately hoping to cover his tracks before the police close in. The cop-out ending aside, Johnson's screenplay is full of holes, silly characters and theatrics. The campus atmosphere should have been something we could relate to, but it doesn't resemble American academia at all, more like Hollywood, U.S.A. A real let-down, though Milton Krasner's cinematography isn't to blame. Lang's direction is weak, and Robinson is woefully miscast. Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea are not much better in smaller roles. *1/2 from ****
  • avatar

    Мох

    Never have I seen such a throughly good movie so completely destroyed by the ending. It's hard to think of a worse cop out ending than this.

    Up until then this one really had me intrigued. Edward G. Robinson was a pleasure to watch, the cinematography great, it is classic film noir. A rating of 9 without that ending, down to a 4 with. Too bad.
  • avatar

    Moonshaper

    This story of a middle-aged man, Professor Richard Wanley, who inadvertently gets caught up in a murder has a lot of good points. For one thing it calls to mind the myriad of unfortunate situations an innocent person can get involved in and promotes an understanding of such situations. And it makes you ask what you would have done in the circumstances. I liked the setup with Wanley being friends with the district attorney and thus having an inside look at the investigation that increasingly points to him as the murderer. The black and white photography is good, but not as dramatic as in some other Fritz Lang films, like "M."

    I liked the period decor and dress.

    But I had some problems. Wanley is fascinated by a portrait of a beautiful woman in a store window. Late one night while walking home he stops to admire the portrait and to speculate about the woman. Then, miraculously, the woman appears in the flesh, strikes up a conversation and invites him up to her apartment. A beautiful woman taking up with a stolid middle-aged stranger in New Your City, not very likely unless she is a hooker. Maybe that was to be inferred but not allowed to be explicitly specified in a 1940s movie, but from what is seen this inference is difficult to make.

    There are many other plot points that put me off. I don't think it would be nearly so easy to kill someone with a couple of jabs to the back with a pair of scissors, particularly in such a bloodless manner. Carrying a 200 pound body around like Wanley did would be beyond his strength--a body is an awkward dead weight. As a lecturer on topics like "Some Psychological Aspects of Homicide," I think Wanley would have been smarter than to make some of the mistakes he did during the investigation. And so on.

    You might say that the ending makes my complaints moot, but then you have to believe that it is possible to have such a detailed coherent dream where, in less than an hour, the dream spans several days. And I think it is a cop out when a movie involves you and then pulls the, "Oh, it was just a dream" trope.

    As much as I dislike remakes, I think that this might be a good candidate for such. For example, I imagine that the scene that has the three 40-somethings sitting around proclaiming how "Men of our years have no business playing around with any adventure they can avoid," would play differently now, some seventy-five years later.
  • avatar

    Venemarr

    I have to disagree with all the people who say that the ending spoils the whole movie. In my opinion, it is just the opposite: the end makes the whole film much better. First of all, it is the only way to make the whole thing realistic. Is it possible to believe that a professor -supposed to be an intelligent person- would react to a murder in the way he does, i.e., getting rid of the body, when it would have been very easy for him to prove his innocence? Furthermore, is it logical his suggestion of killing the blackmailer? Of course, it could all have been that way, but then it would not have been such a realistic film as it actually is; it would have been a good thriller, but nothing more. Actually, it is a thriller, but also a deep description of the human mind. All the "thriller" is a description of the professor's hidden desires and fears. Some interesting details: -When he is giving a lecture at the beginning of the film, the name of Sigmund Freud is written on the blackboard. Freud's theories are the key of the film. -During all the dream, whenever the professor appears in his house, portraits of his wife and children are visible. This shows once again his fears and his state of mind.
  • avatar

    porosh

    Edward G. and Joan Bennett star in a noirish crime drama that feels almost surreal (with god reason, as the ending makes plain). Robinson is a staid professor whose family is off on a weekend jaunt. He meets an alluring woman who invites him to he apartment for "drinks and." When her psycho boyfriend unexpectedly shows up, the prof ends up killing him during a scuffle. To protect himself and the gal, he gets rid of the body. Then the fun really starts. Edward G. is at the top of his form here, and Bennett is sexy and ever so slightly tawdry, even fully clothed. The ending, which has been used or misused in many movies before and since, here works beautifully. I am surprised I had never seen this particular melodrama until now. I am no spring chicken, and used to be a film critic, to boot.
  • avatar

    Thorgaginn

    I don't hold Lang in particularly high esteem, he has a bit of a rough hand for my taste. But he's one of few who can claim they invented noir as far back as the silent era, or laid all the groundwork for others to decorate with shadows and dames, so I will watch anything he does in this field with some interest.

    This is a very taut thing to say the least, a thriller par excellance. It has all the hallmarks; concentrated space, unfolds in real time, simple but smart setups of the bomb ticking beneath the table, to quote from Hitchcock.

    So it's not just that the noir schmuck has to sneak out of town with a corpse on his backseat, across empty streets at night, while omens abound everywhere he looks. He's also the most unlikely guy to ever find himself in this situation, a quaint college professor who had one drink too much with the wrong woman. And this explains perhaps why it's no more well known, say on par with Hitchcock. Edward Robinson is short, stocky, mousy, just perfect for the occasion but really far from the ideal leading man, Joan Bennett on the other hand is beautiful and fragile but is neither as radiant as a Gene Tierney.

    The main idea is twofold tension; on one hand the culprit is kept up to date every step of the investigation leading back to him, because his friend is the DA, on the other hand police are looking for who's in plain sight of them all this time. It works, even as a few of the slip-ups come across as forced and because we need the noose to tighten fast.

    But there is something else here that deserves mention. Oh, the final twist spells it out for us, but an observant viewer will have noted what goes on as soon as the professor is asleep and meets the woman in the picture.

    Between sleeps, we have a deliciously moral anxiety; a nightmare that vividly steers a middle-aged man away from desire that his friends openly indulge in, and no doubt he would as well, and back into social order.

    Oh, the message is stridently cautionary as was customary in Hollywood, even if a bit humorous. Watch Jacques Rivette's Celine and Julie for the same motif - the mind asleep - improvised with more breath and soul.