Saturday, March 24, 2012


Before we get started, let’s have a big round of applause for Kristina Dijan of Speakeasy for suggesting this particular TotED post! Between chatting online at the Speakeasy site, The Dark Pages; Shadows and Satin, and Twitter, Kristina and I have discussed and good-naturedly joked about various film noirs. In a recent communiqué, we happened to discuss the similarities between two classic 1940s thrillers by Fritz Lang (1890—1976), namely 1944’s The Woman in the Window (TWitW) and 1945’s Scarlet Street (SS). Clever gal that she is, Kristina thought it would be great fun if I discussed both of these films, and before you could say, “Cheese it—the cops,” The Woman in the Window vs. Scarlet Street Smackdown was ready to rumble! Many thanks for the great suggestion, Kristina!

When I was a teenage movie buff (hey, maybe some fresh new classic blogger should give the title I Was a Teenage Movie Buff a good home in some nice warm blog, if someone hasn’t already done so! But I digress….), I mostly knew who Fritz Lang was because of Metropolis (1927) and M (1931). It wasn’t until years later that I learned more about director/writer/producer Lang’s body of work. But once I finally had the opportunity to see these suspense dramas, both of them produced by Walter Wanger (Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 thriller Foreign Correspondent) and his beautiful and talented wife Joan Bennett, both films grabbed me and held me riveted to the TV, intrigued by those films’ similarities and differences! Also, both movies had Milton Krasner as Director of Photography (All About Eve, The Set-Up, the Oscar-winning Three Coins in the Fountain) but H.J. Salter composed the SS score, while TWitW was scored by Arthur Lang and an uncredited Hugo Friedhoffer, Charles Maxwell, and Bruno Mason.

With all due respect for Lang, I must admit that Edward G. Robinson was the main attraction in our little smackdown as far as I was concerned. Born Emmanuel Goldenberg in 1893 in Bucharest, Romania, Robinson emigrated to New York City with his family when he was 10. “Eddie,” as friends called him, rose to stardom playing gangsters and other tough guys in films like Little Caesar, Five Star Final, Tiger Shark, and the Damon Runyon/Howard Lindsay mobster comedy A Slight Case of Murder. However, during his long career, he also proved to be both a fine leading man and a character actor of great talent and range in such films as The Stranger (1946), The Prize (1963), and Robinson’s final role, in Soylent Green (1973), which particularly touched my heart. This time around, we’ll be seeing Robinson’s sensitive side as Our Man Eddie finds himself becoming putty in the hands of dangerous dames and conniving crooks! Where’s his sensible, fearless Double Indemnity character Barton Keyes when you need him?

Both TWitW and SS are set in my hometown, New York City, and both films have the same three stars: Robinson, Joan Bennett, and Dan Duryea. Taken at face value, it looks as if the leads in TWitW and SS are more or less playing the same character archetypes:
  1. Our man Edward G. Robinson as a kind, dignified older gent whose quiet life is turned upside-down when he finds himself infatuated with a pretty young woman who may or may not make a chump out of him. Talk about “middle-age crazy!”

  2. Joan Bennett as a beautiful young woman of negotiable affections, as Vinnie would say. She was a member of the renowned Bennett acting family, which included dad Richard Bennett, sister Constance Bennett of Topper fame, and younger sister Barbara Bennett of The Valley of Decision. Joan’s long, successful career included silent films; the 1933 version of Little Women; our director Fritz Lang’s Man Hunt (1941); Father of the Bride (1950), with Joan as the mother of bride-to-be Elizabeth Taylor and the wife of comically beleaguered Spencer Tracy, followed by the sequel Father’s Little Dividend (1951); Dark Shadows on TV and in the feature film House of Dark Shadows; and Dario Argento’s giallo horror classic Suspiria (1977). She started her acting career as a blonde, but I think our Joan always looked best as a brunette, whether she played good girls or shady ladies.

  3. Dan Duryea as a sleazy opportunist who’s not above blackmail and violence to get what he wants. For most of his long career, Duryea excelled at playing Guys We Love to Hate in such classics as Ball of Fire and Criss Cross (no relation to Robinson’s character in SS, but do read and enjoy our friend and fellow blogger John Greco’s stellar review at his blog Twenty-Four Frames!) A native of White Plains, New York (just a short drive from the Bronx neighborhood where I lived for much of my youth!), Duryea’s character actor career was born when he became a Broadway star in the original stage versions of Dead End and The Little Foxes, the latter starring the great Tallulah Bankhead. The Little Foxes also became Duryea’s Hollywood debut; this time he played opposite another powerhouse star, the great Bette Davis! Despite his usual roles as rotters and bounders, Duryea was by all accounts a nice guy in real life (indeed, he’d been a scoutmaster and a PTA parent!),
Let’s get this noir party started!

Dashing young Fritz Lang
The Woman in the Window (1944)
Versatile writer/producer/director Nunnally Johnson brought audiences such classic films as The Grapes of Wrath, The Three Faces of Eve, The Gunfighter, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, and How to Marry a Millionaire. He proved to be quite adept at film noir with The Woman in the Window (TWitW), based on J.H. Wallis’ novel Once Off Guard. Wanger and Bennett had been feeling stifled at Universal, so along with Lang, they joined forces to create their production company Diana, named after their daughter, providing Lang with the artistic freedom he craved. It was the first time that Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, and Dan Duryea had worked together. TWitW was set mostly in Manhattan, with side trips to the Henry Hudson Parkway, leading from Manhattan to the Bronx to Westchester County, near where our family lived at the time. The scene in question involves our desperate heroes trying to ditch a corpse—but I’m getting ahead of myself! (I assure you it wasn’t nearly as scary when we actually lived there!) Our protagonist is Assistant Professor Richard Wanley (Robinson), who we first see lecturing about “Some Psychological Aspects of Homicide” at the fittingly named Gotham College. Somehow I get the feeling our hero’s knowledge on this particular topic has more to do with book smarts than street smarts! Although it’s clear that Richard truly loves his wife and kids, he and his friends are nevertheless “summer bachelors” in the city while their wives and kids head for the country for fresh air and sunshine. But when the fam’s away, will the husbands stray? Is it beer o’clock and the boys are buying? Richard, for one, is perfectly happy to take it easy at his men’s club with a good book.

Richard was gonna read 
King Solomon's Mines,
but this is more fun!

Richard first sees the titular portrait of a beautiful, ethereal brunette in the window of a midtown Manhattan art gallery. His colleagues, District Attorney Frank Lalor (Raymond Massey of Mackenna’s Gold; Abe Lincoln in Illinois; The Fountainhead; and Arsenic and Old Lace, in which Massey replaced original Broadway cast member Boris Karloff) and Dr. Michael Barkstane (Edmund Breon of Goodbye, Mr. Chips; Gaslight; The Thing from Another World) have been admiring the portrait, too, playfully anointing her “our dream girl.” DA Frank gives his friends a word of friendly caution: “In the District Attorney’s office, we see what happens to middle-aged men who try acting like colts.” Hey, Massey played Abe Lincoln; he wouldn’t kid us about a thing like that!

What a picture: Still Life with Horndog
When Richard leaves after dark, he’s startled by a reflection in the art gallery’s glass window. It’s the woman in the window herself, lovely young Alice Reed (Bennett). She has a sweet smile and a frisson of loneliness about her, so Richard gallantly escorts her home for a nightcap. She shows him her etchings, ruefully mentioning that a man is paying for her swanky apartment. Richard and Alice chat and chastely enjoy each other’s company and champagne. Richard isn’t the two-timing type, though he does admit that “I should say no, I know, but I haven’t the slightest intention of saying it.” How about saying, “Help! Police!” Suddenly an older man wearing one of those straw boater hats bursts into Alice’s apartment and flies into a murderous rage—knocking over furniture, breaking glass, the works! It’s kill or be killed for poor Richard, and since they didn’t have anger management classes back in 1944, Richard fights back. To the horror of all concerned, Richard ends up killing Boater Hat Man in self-defense. They’re both panicky since Alice’s late sugar daddy was meeting her at the apartment on the sly. They pull themselves together and improvise a desperate plan to save their skins: if Richard leaves one of his belongings behind for Alice, and she leaves something for him, that’ll be a clue in case, God forbid, Richard doesn’t come back. In addition to the vest Richard opts to leave behind, Alice has another clue she only discovers after Richard bundles up Boater Hat’s corpse and leaves: his monogrammed pen!

I honestly didn't know where this joke came from --
the hubby had to show me!

Look who's playing Eddie G's son:
fellow Little Rascal Bobby Blake!

What a crazy party! Mama told me not to come! 
The suspense is nerve-wracking; every time Richard seems to have put the killing behind him, some new wrinkle emerges to taunt him. Will Richard’s loose brakes be our hero’s bad break? Will the critters who live along the Henry Hudson Parkway find the dead hothead has become a maggot condo? And what about Heidt (Duryea), the oily opportunist who smells an opportunity for blackmail? Things get worse when the dead man is finally found by the Bronx River Parkway Extension. He’s no Sterno bum that nobody will miss: he’s financier Claude Mazard (Arthur Loft from The Glass Key—and our other Fritz Lang Smackdown movie, Scarlet Street!), who was apparently always quick to anger. That’s what you get for underestimating quiet, unassuming college professors!

George “Spanky” McFarland of The Little Rascals/Our Gang has an uncredited role in TWitW, but it’s my favorite bit in the movie! He plays the Boy Scout in the newsreel who makes the gruesome discovery…
“I was practicing woodcraft in the woods just off the Bronx River Parkway Extension when I found Mr. Mazard’s remains. No, I was not scared. A Boy Scout is never scared. If I get the reward, I will send my younger brother to some good college, and I will go to Harvard.”
"Honest, dude, this isn't the WWE tryouts!"

Frank is on the case, and he brings Richard along, saying it’ll be an interesting adventure. But is he really trying to trap Richard, or is it plain old paranoia? It doesn’t help that our hero keeps slipping up and innocently commenting on incriminating evidence. I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone who hasn’t seen TWitW, but I will say the denouement either leaves audiences relieved, laughing, or furious. SPOILER-ISH: Personally, I like it, if only because I’m a sucker for a funny, upbeat ending!


Venerable film icon Fritz Lang
Scarlet Street (1945)
Named in honor of Greenwich Village’s famous Carmine Street, one of the world’s most celebrated art meccas, it’s almost a miracle that SS was able to be shown in neighborhood theaters at all back in 1945! It was initially banned in New York, Milwaukee, and Atlanta for fear that its “obscene, immoral, inhuman, sacrilegious” subject matter might turn decent moviegoers everywhere into hordes of hooligans. In any case, SS eventually got away with minor cuts, and Joe and Josie Average could watch it in their hometown bijou and make up their own minds about the flick.

I like the stylized artwork here; perfect for phony Kitty!
Kitty and Johnny were lovers—and layabouts,
too busy with their “mad love” schtick to check
Chris’ bank account and see if he’s rich enough to sponge off of. 
Set in New York City, Robinson stars as our protagonist Christopher “Chris” Cross (no puns intended about Robert Walker in Strangers on a Train). As the film begins, Chris is being feted by his company for his 25 years of faithful service (or is that servitude?) as cashier for clothing retailer J.J. Hogarth & Company. Chris is happy as can be with his lovely inscribed pocket watch, and everything’s jake until Chris’ colleagues insist that their clean-cut compadre live a little. So he shares a smoke with them, and wouldn’t you know the men all light up using the same lit cigar, despite Chris’ superstitious reaction (including crossing his fingers)? Haven’t these guys ever seen Three on a Match? (If not, see FlickChick’s Three on a Match review over at A Person in the Dark from last fall!)  With life seemingly bypassing Chris and his cronies now that they’re nearing retirement age (I say they should stop whining and use their free time to mentor kids or something!), it’s no wonder they stare longingly, if not lasciviously, at the beautiful blonde in the big boss’ limo, clearly being pampered by her rich sugar daddy. But Chris has his own simple pleasures, like his hobby, painting—that is, when his harridan wife Adele (British character actress Rosalind Ivan) isn’t nagging him or reminiscing about her late heroic husband, Detective Homer Higgins, who drowned trying to save a woman in the East River. The pose in Homer’s portrait is hilariously pompous, and I love the dry disdain that slips into Chris’ tone when he says Homer’s name. It reminds me a bit of the scene in Witness for the Prosecution when Elsa Lanchester’s chirpy, peripatetic Miss Plimsoll chatters about her lawyer fiancee’s death: “Peritonitis set in, and he went like that (snapping her fingers).” Charles Laughton growls, “He certainly was a lucky lawyer.” Ever “supportive,” Adele constantly belittles his neo-primitive artwork, which others say lacks perspective. Too bad Adele didn’t join Homer in the East River! Sheesh, with all those negative, browbeating busybodies breathing down Chris’ neck, Michelangelo himself would be so distracted that he’d be lucky to finish drawing a stick figure, much less create a decent painting! It’s almost funny to hear Chris and his aging colleague Charlie (Samuel S. Hinds, whose resume includes Buck Privates; It’s a Wonderful Life; Call Northside 777) talk about having too much time on their hands, when nowadays so many people are either overscheduled or while away too much time on TV or the Internet. Can I get the free time that our hapless hero finds himself in, minus the agita?

Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Chris' dignity?
After the company dinner, Chris sets out for his Brooklyn apartment, and finds himself losing both his perspective and his sense of direction in the streets of Greenwich Village while he tries to find his way back home. (For those who aren’t familiar with the Village’s layout, things get tricky once you leave Manhattan’s numbered streets and find yourself confronting actual street names such as Perry Street, Barrow Street, and Houston Street, the latter being pronounced “House-ton.”) He comes across upon a pretty young brunette in a see-through raincoat who’s being assaulted by an equally young ruffian. Chris gets his Sir Galahad moment as he smashes the jerk with his umbrella in the great Foul Play tradition!
The brunette’s name is Katherine “Kitty” Marsh, a slightly naïve yet bold and beguiling brunette whose hints of tawdriness go sailing over Chris’ poor innocent head. For a tawdry dame, she sure has a smart Travis Banton wardrobe, especially after Chris becomes her sugar daddy. (For some reason, the IMDb doesn’t show Travis Banton’s SS screen credit, but you can read Christian Esquevin’s great 2010 “Batty for Banton” post over at Silver Screen Modiste!) Flattering our Gent of a Certain Age, Kitty coos, “You’re not so old…You’re not a boy, you’re just mature.” As they share a drink at local watering hole Tiny’s, Chris unwittingly talks about his love of painting in ways that mislead Kitty into thinking Chris is a man of financial means, and persuades Chris to get a gorgeous pad on the titular street that he can use to paint in peace. What’s more, the joint used to belong to renowned artist Diego Rivera, no less (including pictures he drew randomly around the house)!
Part of me wanted to hug Chris because I felt badly for him, while another side of me wanted to shake him by the shoulders, yelling, “Dude, snap out of it! That dame is trouble! Scram outta there and stay out, before it’s too late!” Besotted Chris doesn’t realize that the ruffian he smacked with his umbrella also happens to be the ironically-named Johnny Prince (Duryea), who happens to be Kitty’s boyfriend, though Kitty’s passing Johnny off as her friend/roomie Millie’s beau when Chris is around. People will say they’re in love, though the understandably cynical Millie (Margaret Lindsay from Jezebel; Bordertown; The Dragon Murder Case; The House of the Seven Gables; and the Ellery Queen movies of the 1940s) begs to differ, since it’s clear to her that Kitty and Johnny, shall we say, like it rough (maybe Kitty had an abusive childhood):
Millie: “That guy pushes you around the way I wouldn’t push a cat around.”
Kitty: “You wouldn’t know love it if hit you in the face.”
Millie (as Kitty storms out): “If that’s where it hits you, you oughta know!”

The look of love? Not for conniving Kitty!
What’s more, Kitty comes honestly by her nickname, “Lazy Legs.” She may have gorgeous Banton clothes, but with her apparent allergy to work (including housework), she won’t be seeking employment as a cleaning lady anytime soon! Things get even crazier when Johnny decides to get Chris’ paintings evaluated—and bona-fide art critics love them! In rapid succession, sly Johnny becomes Kitty’s agent; Adele sees the amazing art of “Katherine Marsh;” Chris finds out Kitty's been selling his paintings under an alias—and he’s thrilled, because now he thinks this will help him keep Kitty! I’ll say this for Chris: he sure knows how to take life’s lemons and make lemonade, without noticing any sour aftertaste.  It’s enough to keep your head spinning as screenwriter Nichols’ tangled but compelling web also encompasses Det. Homer Higgins (Charles Kemper of Intruder in the Dust, The Southerner, Where Danger Lives) who’s now a bum back from the dead (he couldn’t stand Adele, either, so he faked his death) and willing to stay that way—for a price. It all ends in betrayal, murder, misery, and frame-ups that stick. Alas, poor Chris’ basic decency is no match for his guilty conscience as the voices of the dead taunt him, dooming him to walk all over New York, homeless and hopeless. With the crazy twists and turns plot-wise and emotion-wise, at times it’s almost like a pitch-black comedy (not necessarily a bad thing)!

Wonder if this toenail-painting scene
gave Kevin Smith the idea for Clerks?
Even considering its then-controversial subject matter, SS certainly had an impressive pedigree, including a script by Dudley Nichols adapted from Jean Renoir’s 1931 French melodrama La Chienne (The Bitch). Nichols had already grabbed Hollywood’s attention when he won the Best Screenplay Oscar in 1936 for The Informer—and refused it, in order to show solidarity with his colleagues at The Screen Actors Guild, who were on strike at the time. I wonder if that’s what gave Marlon Brando the “Sacheen Littlefeather” idea back in the 1970s? (Nichols eventually got his Oscar statuette in his hot little hands in 1949.) Nichols went on to write such classic screenplays as Bringing Up Baby (1938), Stagecoach (1939), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), and And Then There Were None (1945).  I found myself wishing that Ball of Fire’s Professor Potts and Sugarpuss O’Shea could’ve shown up to have an intervention with Chris before he got in too deep! Consider this a compliment, because it means Lang and Nichols made me care about these characters, especially poor hapless Chris. This role captures Robinson at his most endearingly, tragically vulnerable. How the man never won an Oscar in competition is one of the Academy’s mysteries. Yeah, I know Cary Grant and Myrna Loy and countless other greats didn’t get Oscars or even nominations, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. At least he reportedly knew he was going to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award before he died of cancer, though it’s a shame Eddie didn’t live long enough to enjoy even that honor. I’m glad we have so many of his movies to remember him by and enjoy, though!

Decision:  If you like your Fritz Lang film noirs with a spoonful of hope, chances are you'll love The Woman in the Window.  If you like your Fritz Lang noirs dark, with wry gallows humor, head for Scarlet Street.
See, there's something for everyone!

Bonus! !: George "Spanky" McFarland's show-stealing moment in The Woman in the Window!


  1. Excellent post Dorian! Well the part about The Woman in the Window. I didnt read your take on Scarlet Street yet because I haven't seen it yet. I plan to ASAP though. And will come back to read your thoughts on it then ok. Thanks for such an awesome read though.

  2. Monty, thanks so much for your kind praise! I love both these films, though I think it's safe to say those who really love their film noir over the top will especially enjoy SCARLET STREET. If/when you get a chance to watch it, I'd love to hear your opinion!

  3. Ok Dorian. You will be the first to know.

  4. I loved your post, Dorian -- once I saw your topic a few hours ago, I purposely put off reading it so I could enjoy it with my dinner tonight. (Although I almost choked on my tuna sandwich at your caption under the picture of Edward G. in the apron, LOL!) I have to say in a smackdown between these two films, Scarlet Street always wins, hands-down, for me -- primarily because of the ending of Woman in the Window. I'm in the camp of infuriated viewers who thought it was a total cop-out. Boo. Hiss. I greatly enjoyed not only your coverage of the two films, but also your always-entertaining style of writing, the information about all of the different players, and the bits of "trivia," like the reason for the name "Scarlet Street," which I never knew. Great stuff! (Now I'm off to check out Spanky MacFarland's appearance and the sites you mentioned!)

  5. Karen, thanks so much for your enthusiastic feedback! I'm delighted you enjoyed our little Fritz Lang film noir smackdown, and I can't help smiling at the thought of you reading the SCARLET STREET part over dinner, sans choking, thank goodness! But hey, it takes a true tough guy actor like Our Man Eddie to wear a frilly apron while still managing to keep his dignity! :-) And by all means, check out Spanky's uncredited but scene-stealing bit; I'm betting it'll give you a good laugh, always a nice way to end a day!

  6. Dorian this is an outstanding article. I've seen both films and you are on point about how Scarlet Street has dark humor. It reaffirms be careful what you wish for! I too was drawn to the films because Edward G. always gave a great performance regardless of the film. In Lang's hands, Robinson gives two very memorable and complex portrayals.

    1. Gilby, thanks ever so much for your positive feedback! I agree with you about both of Eddie G's moving and memorable performances. With SCARLET STREET in particular, the dark humor definitely keeps us viewers riveted without it becoming too downbeat. Glad you joined the conversation; do drop by the TotED chat anytime!

  7. Dan Duryea is one of the best sleaze actors on screen. He add so many levels of slime making you feel so dirty you want to put him over a nice camp fire and slowly toast him. (Thanks for the mention on "Criss Cross"). Joan Bennett is maybe, and I mean maybe, a step above Duryea in these films and seeing Robinson in an apron is worth the price of admission by itself.

    I love both of these films though I favor SCARLET STREET which I believe ranks toward the top of the film noir pantheon. An exception review here Dorian on two films of high quality. Lang was a master.

    If you get a chance, here is a link to my own review of SCARLET STREET from last year.


    1. John, many thanks for your kudos for the WOMAN IN THE WINDOW/SCARLET STREET Smackdown! And you're most welcome for the CRISS CROSS shoutout; I think that review may be my favorite TWENTY-FOUR FRAMES review to date -- no small feat with all the excellent blog posts you have under your belt!

      I got a huge kick out of your apt comments about Dan Duryea: "He adds so many levels of slime, making you feel so dirty you want to put him over a nice camp fire and slowly toast him."

      Thanks also for sharing the link to your superb 2009 SCARLET STREET post! If anyone here hasn't had the pleasure of reading it, here's the link to John's post:

  8. Dorian, I loved reading your post, on the two film noirs, Scarlet Street and Woman in the Window. I love/love the twist and turns of both films and I plan on adding them to my DVD collection. I also enjoyed reading your photo captions and fun facts..

    1. Dawn, thanks a million for your praise of our Fritz Lang Smackdown, and I'm happy to hear you've been enjoying my loopy captions and fun facts, too! Both films are musts for any film noir movie library! :-)

      P.S.: Tomorrow I intend to catch up with your LONE WOLF SPY HUNT post, too!

  9. Dorian,
    The Woman in the Window I saw a few years ago while on a tear to see Joan Bennett in everything she had done. I will say that with Lang on board then Massey and Edward G. along for the ride I knew it would be awesome. As you pointed our here with your hilarious descriptions, Alice was a mess (not sure how she found enough time in the day to get into all of her precarious situations) but I liked Bennett in all of her flawed glory.

    The film itself is memorable so I was thrilled to see you were reviewing it with your colorful and in depth style.

    Your screengrab of Edward sitting there slumped over the body with that caption "Mama told me not to come" was hilaro!

    The older photo of Fritz in contrast to the first dapper pic that you shared is funny. He wasn't about to lose that darn monocle.

    Scarlett Street I enjoyed as well. We know Stanwyck and film noir are a perfect fit so I expected to enjoy it.

    First observations! Why does Edward G look like he's made of melting wax in the poster? And that portrait of 'kitty' is all kinds of tacky! I bet she's sitting across from dogs playing poker! BLECH

    Interesting that this screenplay was a Nichols adaptation who went on to great films and much different films as you pointed out here. Don't get me started on the Oscar snubs or I'll be here all day. (I can just hear Vinnie over your shoulder "Is Page still here?" You "Yep, she's on another tear" Vinnie "Is there a way to shut the blog lights off?"

    Two great films that you've showcase here Dorian! Thanks for adding the hilarity, great screen grabs and extra trivia to what was already an entertaining read.

    1. Page, beaucoup thanks for your positive comments and witty asides about our WINDOW.../SCARLET STREET Smackdown! I'm delighted that you're enjoying my daft captions as well as my fun facts. I see we're on the same page about Oscar snubs, too; it's times like this that I wish we had a time machine to give Oscars to Edward G. Robinson,say. While we're at it, let's get a Little Gold Man into the hands of Cary Grant and Myrna Loy!

      Your quips had both Vinnie and me laughing with glee, especially: "Why does Edward G look like he's made of melting wax in the poster? And that portrait of 'kitty' is all kinds of tacky! I bet she's sitting across from dogs playing poker! BLECH!" I bet you're right, too; no-class Kitty seems like the type! :-)

      Ooh, now you've got me imagining Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Bennett together in a film noir! We'd better get cracking on that time machine! :-)

      Speaking of which, I desperately need to catch up with your MY LOVE OF OLD HOLLYWOOD posts! Working on it! :-) Thanks again, Page; always happy to have you grace TotED with your wit and joie de vieve!

  10. Great post (as always), Dorian. I am not a great noir fan, but I LOVE these 2 movies. EG and Joan Bennett are about as good as it gets. I confess to going back and forth as to which one I like best and now I understand: it depends if it's a glass half empty or half full kind of day!

    1. FlickChick, I'm glad you enjoy WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and SCARLET STREET as much as we do! That said, I totally agree with your "glass half-empty/half-full" theory. Even the most enthusiastic film noir fan has to be in the right mood for either one of these films -- or any film noir, for that matter! Thanks for your positive feedback, my friend!

  11. thank you Dorian, for the kind words, flattery and pluggage for my sites and writing, not just here in this post but regularly, you rock, are definitely one of my writing role models & I'm so glad i got to "know" you via twitter.

    As usual I make my (fashionably?) late entrance here, but don't ever take it as a sign of ignorance, neglect or lack of appreciation!I'm never like this in real life, I swear!

    To the movies, then: this is a really neat case, I can't think of any others (are there?) where films almost look like a re-do, but defintiely are so different. I look at them more like a "company" doing a different production, which I love since there's no need to pick faves. Love Lang movies, they would mostly make up my fave noirs, so dark and clever with such great actors... must be the monocle. and this cast combo in particular is money, with EG and Duryea especially being movie comfort food to me.

    so funny, your captions.
    on a technical/writer note, nice structure to this post, love the breakdown & starting with the similarities.
    by the way, in the lecture Some psychological aspects of Homicide it does say in no uncertain terms that men in Straw Boater Hats are just asking to get offed. Just saying.

    on EG Robinson: yes yes and yes to everything you wrote, I love him & his versatility, I never find him less than lovable in anything. glad you mentioned Slight Case of Murder; I love how well he was able to play against, or turn his gangster persona on its head and even spoof it so well when he did gangster comedy. And really, now, that apron pic... in SS did you feel like yelling "dude! did you not remember a thing from your other movie?!" I did. Who else could be so menacing yet so vulnerable and soft?

    On Duryea: I remember hearing or reading somewhere, that apparently Duryea was inspiration for Jerry Lee Lewis' hairdo! and being the massive rockabilly fan that I am, that just puts Duryea in an whole nother lever of pop culture coolness to me, and I am going to believe it's true. Neato thing to imagine the teens going to his movies and him having that kind of influence. Take that, Brando. Duryea would slap you silly anyway.

    I wanted to mention, In TWitW how cool it was of Lang to contrast shots of Bennett through the rainy glass vs her portrait. and also not wanting to spoil anything, but for the last bit Lang had a complete tearaway suit for EG, so that the camera moving to a tight headshot gave them just enough time to rip off the street clothes! cool trick, brilliant of Lang. must be the monocle. In SS the juxtaposition of Christmastime with the end just has that extra emotional punch. Also love how he did the courtroom scenes.

    great post!

    best from Speakeasy, where it's always Beer O'Clock and I'm buying

    ps. practicing woodcraft in the woods! lolwut to check out the links to other great stuff, as per usual
    also I have this sudden urge to buy a monocle

    1. Kristina, thank you so very much for your kind words and praise as well as your wonderful suggestion resulting in the Fritz Lang Noir Smackdown! I'm truly honored, touched, and tickled pink that you consider me a writing role model as well as a friend and fellow comedy-suspense aficionado! Aren't these mutual admiration societies fun? :-) And don't fret about being "late;" you're right on time, and besides, as far as we're concerned, any time is the right time when you drop by TotED -- even "beer o'clock"! :-)

      I like the way you compared WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and SCARLET STREET as a "'company' doing a different production," making it unnecessary to pick favorites. What a stellar cast both films had in Eddie G., the lovely and versatile Joan Bennett, and Dan Duryea, the man everyone loved to hate! I'd never realized Duryea inspired Jerry Lee Lewis' looks/persona, but I can see it makes sense. Being a rockabilly fan myself, I can certainly relate! Our 15-year-old daughter just discovered rockabilly, and we were thrilled to see she loves the singers I enjoyed at her age, including Marshall Crenshaw and Webb Wilder! But I digress....

      Even folks who didn't like WOMAN...'s ending (though I did, softie that I am) had to admire the those great shots, like the shots through the rainy glass and *SPOILER* clever gambit of the tearaway suit.

      Thanks for your kudos of my captions! Three Dog Night's "Mama Told Me Not to Come" is still ringing in my head. :-) Your delightful, zany wit in your response cracked me up! In fact, my husband actually added one today because we realized we'd forgotten to include the "SUSQUEHANNA!" gag for Boater Hat Man! Among your other bon mots, I'm also still giggling over these:

      * "Some psychological aspects of Homicide it does say in no uncertain terms that men in Straw Boater Hats are just asking to get offed. Just saying."

      * "And really, now, that apron pic... in SS did you feel like yelling 'dude! did you not remember a thing from your other movie?!'" I did." Me too! Hubby Vinnie quips that when I watch a movie about characters I really sympathize with, I watch the flick with my whole body. (Of course we control ourselves more when we're in actual movie theaters, so as not to unnerve the populace! :-))

      Time to pick up a monocle and practice my woodcraft! :-) Again, Kristina, beaucoup thanks, and see you in Speakeasy and/or The Dark Pages!

  12. You had me laughing at "maggot condo" and "everything's jake."
    Very cool writing Dorian and both movies sound good too.

    1. Thanks, Eve! Glad you enjoyed my film noir smackdown with Eddie G. and friends! :-) If you enjoy suspense and film noir, I think you'll very much enjoy THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and SCARLET STREET!

  13. Here's a coincidence, Dorian - I was checking out John's (of Pretty Sinister Books)recent post on books he'd picked up while travelling in the south - he favors vintage, of course - and guess what one of the books turned out to be? WOMAN IN THE WINDOW.

    Anyway, loved your post and I must say that I'm in the WOMAN IN THE WINDOW camp. In fact, I've been meaning to watch it for awhile now since I am also a fan of Edward G.
    and occasionally, Fritz Lang. LOVE the pix of Lang with a monocle. What is it about a monocle that I find so supercillious? HA! Actually, I love it.

    I'm also in the Dan Duryea camp. A sleazier screen persona we would be hard put to find except for maybe Richard Jaeckle. Both men who, in reality, were esteemed for their niceness and long term marriages. Go figure.

    Love Duryea as the murderous tailor in MINISTRY OF FEAR. Did he EVER play a good guy?

    "...a maggot condo?" You are incorrigible, Dorian. HA!

  14. Wow, fantastic post! I actually much prefer Scarlet Street both because the ending to The Woman in the Window has always rubbed me a bit wrong and on a more positive note I think Joan Bennett is pure genius in Scarlet Street. When I watch Scarlet Street now I can't take my eyes off of her eyes (though it took me awhile to get there!)--those eyes are always busy mocking poor Edward G, calculating steps ahead of his innocence. Bennett's Lazy Legs is such a, well, you know, I think she's one of the most devious women ever on screen. By the same token I found Bennett a bit flat by comparison in The Woman in the Window. I'd say all things equal between the two for Robinson, but Bennett hit a home run in my eyes (and hers) in Scarlet Street and that pushed it way over the top for me. Great piece of work you've posted here!

    1. Cliff, thanks for your enthusiastic praise for our Fritz Lang noir smackdown! While I love both films, I can certainly understand why SCARLET STREET captured your imagination more strongly. Joan Bennett's WOMAN IN THE WINDOW role is pretty much a good-girl role, a sort of damsel in distress, really, not that there's anything wrong with that.

      Ah, but in SCARLET STREET, our Joan gets a really juicy role, a scheming vixen with a cruel streak a mile wide, who's only out for herself. Dan Duryea's SS character may have persuaded Bennett to go along with the scheme to pass off Robinson's paintings as hers, but she certainly seemed to get used to all the resulting money and fame quickly, without looking back! :-) Thanks so much for joining the conversation, Cliff; drop by anytime!

  15. "...negotiable affections" - Ha!

    I know some folks who poo-poo the ending of "The Woman in the Window". For me, it's delicious because it gives us an idea of what goes on inside the skull of that sedate prof.

    There is something so heartbreaking about "Scarlet Street" that I can hardly bear it. You are so right that they make us care for the characters - in this case too much.

    The smack down was a swell idea and you carried it off beautifully, as you always do.

    1. Caftan Woman, many thanks for your kind praise for our little smackdown! I'm especially pleased that you're a WOMAN IN THE WINDOW fan, too, because you truly hit the proverbial nail on the proverbial head with your comment: "It's delicious because it gives us an idea of what goes on inside the skull of that sedate prof." Exactly, my friend! (As John Goodman says to John Turturro in BARTON FINK, "I'll show you the life of the mind!" :-))

      I really feel for the characters in both films, but especially in SCARLET STREET because the performances are so compelling, and Robinson in particular breaks my heart; as you said yourself, "They make us care for the characters - in this case too much." But hey, engaging our emotions like this shows the filmmakers did their jobs well, right? :-) Always happy to have you drop by, CW, as always!

  16. Yvette, is it a small world, or what? How cool that your friend John came across a vintage copy of the original WOMAN IN THE WINDOW book! I'm assuming it must have been printed under the original book's title, ONCE OFF GUARD by J.H. Wallis, or perhaps a movie tie-in from that time? I'm curious to see what the original novel was like, aren't you?

    Ah, yes, I thought I remembered you being an Edward G. Robinson fan yourself, my friend! I'd love to hear your opinion of WOMAN IN THE WINDOW -- and SCARLET STREET, too, for that matter if/when you have an opportunity to see them!

    Regarding Dan Duryea and Richard Jaeckel, I like the irony of those gents and other actors who play villains so well, but turn out to be nice guys in real life. Maybe they're able to get any leftover bad-man aggression out of their system on the set! :-) The only good-guy rolethat Duryea has played that I know of is the 1958 family comedy-drama KATHY O'. Ironically, it also starred THE BAD SEED's Patty McCormack as a bratty child star who, it turns out, all she needed was love! :-) Duryea was also the star of the 1950s TV series CHINA SMITH, where I believe he was more of a lovable rogue type. However, I haven't actually seen either one, so I can't say whether either of those was good or not. :-)

    I agree that monocles look cool in the right hands -- or rather, on the right faces -- though I can't imagine how anyone can keep one in his (or her?) eye without it being annoying! Guess I'd better scrap my dreams of becoming an aristocrat! :-)

    As always, dear friend, thanks a million for your kind praise! Glad you got a kick out of my "maggot condo" crack, too! :-)

    1. What an especially fun post, Dorian! I enjoy all your posts, but I really liked this comparison. I've only seen WOMAN IN THE WINDOW so far, but not being one to worry overly much about spoilers I read the whole thing (grin).

      I'm one of those who actually liked the ending of WOMAN IN THE WINDOW -- what a sigh of relief at the end! As Caftan Woman said, I liked the glimpse into his mind. (However, seeing WOMAN IN THE WINDOW made it very easy for me to see the end of another film noir of that era coming! Won't mention the title in case some folks haven't seen it.) SCARLET STREET sounds so dark I'm a bit nervous about watching it, though I will!

      One of the things that struck me watching WOMAN IN THE WINDOW is that Robinson and his wife look more like the chidren's grandparents. Part of it was their age (late '40s/early '50s) -- but I know parents of that age myself with young children, so I think it's mostly the wardrobes of the '40s that make them look so "grandparent-ly," especially the professor's wife. LOL.

      Best wishes,

    2. Laura, thank you kindly for your enthusiastic feedback on our Fritz Lang WOMAN IN THE WINDOW/SCARLET STREET Smackdown! I'm pleased to hear that you liked the ending of WOMAN..., too. I've always been at peace with spoilers myself (I admit it, I often read the end of a book first, then read it all from the beginning to see how events led to that finale! :-)).

      SCARLET STREET is definitely strong, downbeat stuff, though screenwriter Dudley Nichols wisely included a good amount of wry, dry gallows humor to (slightly) soften the blow. But you're made of strong stuff, Laura, I think you can take it! :-)

      I agree with you about Edward G. Robinson and his wife in WOMAN... looked old enough to be the kids' grandparents. In fact, when I first saw WOMAN..., I thought little Bobby Blake was supposed to be Eddie G's grandson! But judging from the films I've seen from that era, as well as my own family's pictures over the years, I'd say it was a combination of the look of the movie costumes and the fact that the fashions for the era, especially for the Women of a Certain Age, looked more matronly than they do nowadays. Heck, with all those people now using cosmetic surgery and Botox and such, as well as the fact that couples are having kids at older ages than they used to, it's getting increasingly difficult to figure out how old anybody is! :-)

      Glad you joined the TotED Smackdown chat, Laura! Come around any time!

    3. Thanks for all the feedback, Dorian, really enjoyed it! Nice to hear there's some good humorous dialogue to lighten the heavy goings-on.

      What you say is true about the fashions for women being more matronly decades ago. I'm sometimes startled to see an "older" looking woman in a movie and realize that she's younger than me! LOL. It's especially noticeable in the '50s when someone like Barbara Stanwyck, then in her early 40s, suddenly started sporting short gray hair instead of the beautiful long dark locks she wore in the '40s.

      Best wishes,

  17. Sorry I'm late, Dorian -- I've been Powelling and Pressbergering, and being a grandma! Hey, I don't know what Susquehanna means -- What is it? I loved your description of the dead guy in TWitW: "...the dead hothead has become a maggot condo..." Wish I'd thought of that one! In SS, my favorite line is: "He comes across upon a pretty young brunette in a see-through raincoat..." Hope she had something on under it!! LOL! I like my film noirs dark, so I'm sure SS would be my favorite. I totally agree about Edward G. Robinson in Soylent Green. That scene is a heartbreaker, beautifully done, and his careeer ended with a wonderful performance in that. Great post, Dorian!

    1. Becky, thanks so much for your kind words about our Fritz Lang Smackdown, and more importantly, I'm delighted that you had quality time with your grandkids! Having a fine time with the fam trumps even our most beloved films! :-) Thanks for the reminder about the Powell/Pressburger Blogathon; I'll give it a look on the double!

      Glad you liked the "maggot condo" gag, too! Yes, in SCARLET STREET, Joan Bennett had something on under the see-through raincoat; guess the Fritz Lang and Company didn't want to freak out the censors anymore than they already were! :-)

      Hooray, I'm not the only person in the world who was totally unfamiliar with the "Susquehanna Hat Company" gag! :-) Vinnie explained that it was a classic Abbott & Costello routine. Here's a link to it in so you can see the routine and see what all the hilariousness is all about! :-)

  18. Wasn't Michael Landon in the movie version of I WAS A TEENAGE FILM BUFF? But I digress...these are two great films for a double-feature review and--as always--you've done them justice! I probably prefer SCARLET STREET by a hair because I saw it on double bill with LA CHIENNE in a film course about Lang and Renoir (it was marvelous to compare the two). I also love how Lang ends his SCARLET STREET on his terms, cleverly defying the censors.

  19. Rick, nice to see you're a fellow digressor! :-) Thanks for your enthusiastic praise of our Fritz Lang Noir Smackdown! How cool that you actually saw SCARLET STREET with the original LA CHIENNE! Now THAT sounds like a heck of a double-feature! And like you, I was also impressed with the way Lang got around the censors at the time. Where there's a will, there's a way, especially when a determined filmmaker (or any kind of artist) is involved! :-)

  20. Appropriately enough, the first time I ever saw either of these films, I saw them back-to-back. I kinda go back and forth between which one I enjoy more - they are so evenly matched, for what I suppose are obvious reasons. Today I will claim Scarlet Street as my favourite but that will probably change tomorrow - or even possibly later tonight.

    1. Kevyn, glad to have you visiting us here at TotED and joining our Fritz Lang Smackdown conversation! As compelling and watchable as both films are, I've always felt that THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and SCARLET STREET work best as a great film noir double-feature. Thanks for dropping by, Kevyn, and feel free to join our chats here any time!