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Saturday, April 16, 2016

THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (1944)

Though he never regained the commanding position of his German/UFA heyday, Fritz Lang hit a considerable Hollywood peak on a pair of companion pics for Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett & Dan Duryea, with Milton Krasner as lighting cameraman. WOMAN, long favored over follow-up SCARLET STREET/’45, now gets treated like the A-side of a 45 rpm record over-taken by its own ‘B-side.’ Rightfully so, as SCARLET is Lang’s Stateside masterpiece, a film so stylistically all-of-a-piece (call it Hollywood UFA), even its flaws work in its favor. Brutally conceived where this film is smooth & polished, their flipped reps now beg for a bit of defensive action. In a plot that might have inspired THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH/’55, Eddie G. sends his family off on holiday while settling down to a middle-aged bachelor routine at his club with two pals (a doctor & Raymond Massey’s D.A.). But then he meets glamorous Joan Bennett while admiring her portrait, only to share a drink, a murder, a cover-up & blackmail as his D.A. friend starts to circle in on him. A nightmare scenario played many times since, for suspense or for laughs, but rarely with such expert control of all film’s elements. When Lang gets cookin’, he’s tough to beat.

DOUBLE-BILL: As mentioned above, SCARLET STREET, in decent physical shape on KINO. OR: A recent no-frills M-G-M release pairs WOMAN with another classic Eddie G. suspenser, Orson’s Welles’ most conventional pic, THE STRANGER/’46. Both sourced from sharp, handsome prints.

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: By us! Wrote this up, to nearly identical effect, about seven years back. The Seven Year Itch to Rewrite?

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