Sunday, December 20, 2009
Day 273: Woman in the Window (1944) - Rank 3.5/5
This was the last of the "original five" film noirs that I had yet to see. The very concept of Fritz Lang teaming up with Edward G. Robinson is a golden one. Robinson's Professor Lanley is an expert on the psychology behind the homicidal mind, but his wits are put to the test when he murders a man. The victim is the enraged beau of Alice Reed (played seductively by Joan Bennett), a model who met Lanley when she caught the lumpy professor ogling her portrait in an art studio window. While the death could clearly be justified as self-defense, Lanley lets his libido do the thinking and acquiesces to Reed's suggestion of dumping the body in the woods.
It doesn't take a genius to foresee the perfect crime going awry, but a unique twist presented is Lanley happens to be best buds with the detective assigned tot eh case. Lanley struggles to mask clues as quickly as they're discovered. While the film is atmospheric and clever, it left a sour taste in my mouth at the finish. The cause? Possibly one of the worst/cliched endings I've seen in a film noir (and that's taking into account that the entire genre is based around convoluted plots and convention). I saw it as a cinematic "Fuck you" to the audience that can only be dwarfed by the saccharine wedding at the end of "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (though the big difference here is that Crystal Skull really didn't have any redeeming qualities). Research proved my hypothesis on the twist, comedic ending: it was studio intervention. Pity, for what could have been a dark and powerful finale is reduced to a gag denouement that instills disappointment.
Watch the Trailer