September 4, 2018  (Web Review)

The Woman in the Window

Kino Lorber, 99 min., not rated, DVD: $19.99, Blu-ray: $29.99

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Fritz Lang’s 1944 crime melodrama is very much a nightmare noir. Edward G. Robinson stars as Richard Wanley—a middle-aged philosophy professor left behind in the city while his family vacations in the country—who meets beautiful young model Alice Reed (Joan Bennett), joins her for a drink alone in her apartment, and winds up killing her lover when the latter barges in on the pair. Rather than face scandal, Wanley dumps the body in the woods, tries to cover up all details of the evening, and then plots a murder to thwart a blackmailer (Dan Duryea). Lang and screenwriter Nunnally Johnson play these situations with an almost absurd innocence, presenting Wanley and Reed as victims of circumstance who only cross into criminal behavior to protect themselves. Raymond Massey costars as the district attorney, who personally updates his buddy Wanley on each development in the case. The ending has been called a cop-out to placate censors but in its own way justifies otherwise inexplicable plot points and suggests the dark desires and anxieties under the façade of morality in the middle-aged, middle-class American man. Extras include audio commentary by film historian Imogen Sara Smith. Recommended. (S. Axmaker)