Derik Badman's Journal

2020-02-04 08:23

Clearly failed to write anything for a few days. Nothing much to the weekend to write about.

I watched Fritz Lang's The Woman in the Window the other day. It's one of those films noir that I somehow never saw (and was confusing with the similarly Lang directed Edward G Robinson/Joan Bennett starring Scarlet Street). I ended up skipping some of the latter part of the movie as it was feeling rather predictable. It's noirish aspects are pretty limited, other than that it is a crime film. Robinson's character, a professor whose wife and children have gone away on some trip, sees this portrait of a woman in the window next to his club. He and his buddies (one of whom is a D.A.) talk about how they'd love to meet the woman and how they are too old for adventures anymore. On his way home, he stops to look at the portrait again and the woman shows up. He, fairly innocently (at least it is not implied at all that they have any kind of physical relations), ends up at her apartment for drinks and to look at sketches by the same artist as the portrait (though one can certainly read "artist sketches" as "nudes", and thus imply something more erotic than we actually see). Some guy shows up and attacks Robinson in a rage, almost choking him, until the woman gets some scissors into Robinson's hands and he stabs the other man to death.

It's self-defense, but Robinson is concerned about his ruined reputation, so they decide to take the body to the country (they are in NYC) and cover up the murder. Somehow, he's more worried about his reputation and that people won't believe an innocent meeting with a woman, than he is worried about covering up a murder and that people will believe he is innocent. It's almost comical. Of course we immediately start seeing how, yes, he is not up for adventure, as his cover up starts going badly and his friend starts investigating the case, which gives the professor plenty of opportunities to let slip that he knows about more about the murder than he should.

I skipped a lot of the rising action part and went to the end. Surprisingly the woman, Joan Bennett, who is quite good in this, does not turn into a femme fatale or try to get him killed or anything (I think that's the plot in Scarlet Street). Instead, he ends up killing himself as he thinks he's about to get caught, but then... twist!... the guy who was trying to blackmail them gets shot and dies with incriminating evidence. But.. twist!... the professor wakes up and it was all a dream... Uggh. And thus he learned his lesson about... talking to women that aren't his wife... and that he's too old for adventures.

Lang is generally quite moralistic, as seen in this movie, and it feels like it takes away from the noir atmosphere, ditto the stupid "it was all a dream" ending.