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USA 1944
Directed by
Fritz Lang
99 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Woman In The Window, The

From its opening premise in which a mild-mannered family man Prof. Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson) follows a glamorous woman Alice Reed (Joan Bennett) home to her swank Manhattan apartment Fritz Lang’s film taxes one’s credulity. It doesn’t get any more convincing as Alice’s lover bursts into the apartment, attacks Wanley and is killed by him with the pair trying clumsily to dispose of the body, Wanley leaving more clues and committing more gaffes than one can poke a stick at.  

Written and produced by A-list screenwriter Nunnally Johnson, directed by one of cinema’s acknowledged greats (at least his German career) and photographed by Milton Krasner you’d be forgiven for expecting more of this film but it’s big on expositional dialogue and looks rather musty. It only picks up towards the end when Bennett changes into something slinky and Dan Duryea turns up in his straw boater and in characteristic fashion starts slapping her around in order to encourage her to pay him ten large to keep quiet about what he knows.

Much of the film is given over to Wanley, a professor of criminal psychology, conveniently occupying a front row seat to the police investigation into the murder by his buddy DA Frank Lalor (Raymond Massey). Robinson sweats and stammers his way through all this procedural information but is one feels, given his middle-class mousiness, improbably self-possessed. Then there are oddities like a news reel featuring a tubby boy scout who found the body and an antacid commercial which plays in full on the radio.

An 11th hour turn-around will either save the film for you or sink it depending on your sensibility. In hindsight the wit is apparent but frankly as a morality play it would have had more impact had this been left off.




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