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Friday, August 14, 2009

THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (1944)

While Fritz Lang never regained the clout he held @ UFA Studios before fleeing Nazi Germany, this ultra-logical noir, from a script that’s a couple of sizes too tight by its producer Nunnally Johnson, is near the top of his Stateside output. Edward G. Robinson plays a University Prof who is batch’ing it while the wife & kids are out of town, and Joan Bennett is ‘the woman in the window,’ a portrait turned flesh. A couple of drinks later they’re at her apartment (to view some sketches!), but the night ends in murder when her rich lover shows up in a jealous rage. Raymond Massey plays Eddie G’s pal, an intuitive D.A. on the case and the incomparably slimy Dan Duryea is indelible as a blackmailer. It’s like a sly mix of CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and the not yet written THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH/’55. Lang knew he was on to something here, Robinson, Bennett, Duryea & lenser Milton Krasner would reteam for next year’s SCARLET STREET. That’s a far more extreme (and greater) film and in it, just the once, Lang reformulated the very essence of German expressionism into something home grown & American.

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