THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW—“The streets were dark with something more than night.” Essential film noir delight from 1944, beautifully constructed by writer Nunnally Johnson and director Fritz Lang, framing their circumstantial trap in 99 brisk minutes of persuasively tailored talk and steadily ratcheting tension, excellently acted.
“The Biblical injunction “Thou shalt not kill” is one that requires qualification in view of our broader knowledge of impulses behind homicide.”
Family away, mild-mannered professor Edward G. Robinson is admiring a painting that he and his pals have chummily discussed. In a chance encounter, the enticing subject of the artwork appears (Joan Bennett). Conversation leads to a few drinks at her apartment, then violence intrudes when her jealous suitor barges in. Self-defense and panic become something to hide from dogged authorities (Raymond Massey) and a cruel blackmailer (Dan Duryea). If this were just a nightmare?
“There are only three ways to deal with a blackmailer. You can pay him and pay him and pay him until you’re penniless. Or you can call the police yourself and let your secret be known to the world. Or you can kill him.”
Coming in #38 at the box-office, this was somewhat overshadowed that year (or out-shadowed to employ a piece of the genre’s style) by Double Indemnity, and by next years reuniting Robinson, Bennett and Duryea in Lang’s nastier Scarlet Street, but it gained justifiable classic stature over time. Reflecting a 1944 world gone kill-mad through the prism of downscaled personal demons saw crime and punishment hit the dark streets running. Keeping this company that melancholy year: The Suspect, The Mask Of Demetrious, The Lodger, Gaslight and Murder My Sweet.
Subtle and effective music scoring from Arthur Lange was Oscar nominated. With Edmund Breon, Thomas E. Jackson, Arthur Loft, Iris Adrian and Robert (then still Bobby) Blake–who must have picked up more than just some acting tips….