Sunday, 20 February 2011

Scarlet Street [1945]

Fritz Lang was a master of making film noirs, and Scarlet Street, Lang’s adaptation of Jean Renoir’s highly controversial film La Chienne, was his bleak and disconsolate view of life. A brilliant work from start to finish, the film follows the inevitable fall from grace of a weak man in a cruel society. Edward G. Robinson, in one of his most towering performances, played the role of Christopher Cross (ironically aka Criss Cross), a lonely, middle-aged, mild-mannered, cuckolded man, working as a cashier and trapped in a bad marriage with a domineering wife. Painting is the only thing that brings him joy. And, right from the time he finds himself falling for a luscious, duplicitous, gold-digging femme fatale (who takes this golden opportunity to con the gullible elderly man along with her scheming boyfriend), his fate down the road to double cross, lust, jealousy, murder and self-destruction gets confirmed beyond all reasonable doubts. The film, in its grim portrayal of sordid side of city life, painted a truly unrelenting picture of a world gone horribly wrong. Not just Edward G. Robinson, even Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea gave splendid performances. The narrative is intensely gripping, and the visuals play a major role in accentuating the mood and fatalism of the plot. Cross’ paintings, which lack on the “perspective” front, form a vital motif and driving force for the film.

Director: Fritz Lang
Genre: Crime Drama/Film Noir
Language: English
Country: US


Sam Juliano said...

"The film, in its grim portrayal of sordid side of city life, painted a truly unrelenting picture of a world gone horribly wrong."

Absolutely, Shubhajit. One of the darkest of noirs, this is always considered one of Lang's best Hollywood films, and Robinson gives one of his most celebrated turns. I still give the edge to Renoir's masterpiece LA CHIENNE as far as this story goes, but SCARLET STREET pushes close. I recently got a chance to see it yet again on the big screen and all the discussion resumed again! Ha!

Wonderful re-cap and analysis here!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Sam for sharing your liking for Scarlet Street. Yeah, both Lang & Robinson were at their very best in this film, which in turn resulted in a great work of film noir. Unfortunately I haven't seen La Chienne, but given your strong recommendation for the film, I'll surely try to get hold of it sooner or later. Thanks again pal.