Tuesday 3 February 2015

The Woman in the Window [1944]

The Woman in the Window might not rank very high in fame in the Fritz Lang pantheon, but its facile mix of a gripping noir with a cheeky prank on audience expectations makes this an interesting work in his oeuvre. Further, its central tale of doomed romantic obsession of a docile middle-aged man and the way the quicksand of his own hapless making slowly devours him, formed a key stepping stone to the devastating and deeply fatalistic romantic noir he followed this up with, viz. Scarlet Street. Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson) is a professor of criminology leading an average, unspectacular life comprising of his college lectures, his family and quiet evenings over drinks and cigar at a private club with two old friends. One fateful evening, he spots a portrait of a beautiful woman and starts developing an obsession towards it like the brilliant Laura released in the same year. Later in the evening, while fixated on the striking painting, he ends up meeting Alice (Joan Bennett), the lady in the painting. Breaking his disciplined life he agrees to have a few drinks with her, and what follows is, as can expected from a classic noir tale, a bleak account of bad choices, murder, blackmail and complete disintegration of ordered existence. Robinson gave an effortless turn as the naïve and bumbling older man whose boredom and subconscious want of reversing his clock, despite what he proclaims to his friends, leads to his slow downfall, while Dan Duryea was also noteworthy as a sleazy blackmailer. And, most notably, the film comprised of not one, but two twists, with the second one imbuing it with chuckling prank on the ironic world of noir.

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

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