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: The Woman in the Window (1944)  ( 3234 )
drinkanddestroy
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« : June 11, 2012, 12:41:25 AM »

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0037469/

The Woman in the Window (1944)  

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Previous post by cigar joe: http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=1822.msg150022#msg150022

Woman In The Window (1944) director Fritz Lang, with Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Raymond Massey,    Edmund Breon, and Dan Duryea.

Professor Wanley (Robinson) and his friends obsess about a portrait of a woman in the window next to their men's club. Wanley just happens to meet the woman while admiring her portrait, and finds himself in her apartment when her boyfriend bursts in and attacks Wanley. During their confrontation Wanley is getting choked to the point of unconsciousness when he manages to stab him to death.

So beings the story of cover-up and blackmail. Its a bit of a lighthearted noir than most, if I had to choose between this and "Scarlet Street" I'd go with the latter. 7/10


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« : December 18, 2013, 03:08:29 AM drinkanddestroy »

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« #1 : June 11, 2012, 12:45:44 AM »

I have to strongly disagree with cigar joe on this one: for me, this is a 9/10 - one of the best noirs I've seen.


I don't think this movie is lighthearted at all. Disagree? Check out this review on "Film Noir of the Week," by Spencer Selby. http://www.noiroftheweek.com/2007/07/woman-in-window.html (that review contains spoilers).


IMO, Edward G. Robinson's performance here is one of the very greatest of all-time.

I am glad that the studios eventually began leaving the fast-talking gangster roles to Cagney, and giving Robinson and Bogie more serious roles, which they were much better in. Cagney was easily the best of the 3 at playing the fast-talking gangster, but the other two really excelled once they were given more serious roles. Even Robinson's gangster in Key Largo --- older, more mature, without all the tough-guy hard-boiled way of speaking --- is a much better character than Little Caesar.

Robinson's performance in TWITW just totally blew me away. This isn't merely "one of the greatest performances ever"; it's in the elite of the elite.

One drawback of the TWITW is that like so many movies of its era, the whole thing is so obviously shot on sets, so while they can call it "Manhattan" or "Upstate New York" or whatever, it may as well be fucking Kalamazoo. Nothing ever gives you the feel of being in New York. The problem with this isn't simply that we are missing what could be nice location shots; it's that we are constantly being reminded: this is all just some Hollywood backlot. But that's no different than so many movies of its era, so what can you do....

« : December 17, 2013, 05:17:04 PM drinkanddestroy »

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« #2 : June 11, 2012, 08:56:16 AM »

What spoils the film for me is the ending. Up until then, though, it's pretty good.

Not as good as Scarlet Street, though. A lot of people think of WitW as a kind of rehearsal by Lang and crew for SS. Whether this is a valid way to view things or not, the latter film seems better put together than the former (IMHO).



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« #3 : June 11, 2012, 10:22:46 AM »

if you read that review in Film Noir of the Week that I posted previously, I think it justifies the ending pretty well. Even if you disagree with the ending, that doesn't change the first awesome 98% of the movie.

As for Scarlet Street: that's next up in my queue, so I'll have to wait before I can compare  ;)

« : June 12, 2012, 03:58:18 AM drinkanddestroy »

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« #4 : January 21, 2013, 09:19:53 AM »



As for Scarlet Street: that's next up in my queue, so I'll have to wait before I can compare  ;)

a belated follow-up; I did see Scarlet Street, but IMO, TWITW is the better movie. 9/10 vs. 8/10
I should point out that when I saw Scarlet Street, it was on an awful-looking dvd (I think that movie may have entered the public domain?) and I don't know how much that may have affected my rating.


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« #5 : June 12, 2014, 07:17:56 PM »

I just saw TWIW again; my opinion is pretty much the same, I still like this better than Scarlet Street, which I also saw recently.
I like Joan Bennett here, I don't like her in SS, she seems to talk in such a whiny manner. In TWIW, she's playing a classier girl; in SS, she is a tramp, maybe she figured that tramps whine.

RE: the ending, Robert Osborne said that was only done to comply with the Production Code, which mandated that killers be punished. (What I don't understand is that Robinson killed in self-defense, it was definitely justifiable; his only crime was in the coverup, and in the fact that he was at the babe's house in the first place; did that mandate that he be punished?) Anyway, even if the Code mandated that Robinson be punished, I don't know why they (i.e. Lang or the screenwriter Nunally Johnson) were so reluctant to have him punished: Indeed, why couldn't they have actually killed him off? Was it just some convention of the time that they didn't wanna kill the protagonist of the movie, a big star whom the audience likes? IMO, it would have been a great ending: Robinson takes the poison, which, as stated earlier in the movie, takes 20-25 minutes to kick in; then Bennet sees that Duryea has been killed, so she quickly calls Robinson and tells him they are in the clear.... but he has taken the poison and it's too late.... so he watches the clock ticking down his own needless death! I think that would have been a great ending!!!

As it is, the ending doesn't bother me, and I think it's because of who the Robinson character is. If he would have been a different sort of guy (maybe like his character in SS), perhaps I woulda said that making it a dream is just an easy way out; but as it is, he is supposed to be this classy, distinguished guy, and a good man and faithful husband, so maybe he would actually never go out with Bennett at all; so that's the point, this good guy has this crazy dream.... So the dream ending really doesn't bother me. I have just one problem with how they did it: When Robinson goes to sleep, he tells the waiter to wake him up at 10:30. We then see him getting up at 10:30, and leaving the place... but at the end we find out that that scene where he gets up and leaves at 10:30 was part of a dream. IMO that is bullshitting the audience. If you make it a dream, you have to just show him reading the book, and next thing you know he is leaving or already outside or whatever. Once you show him actually getting up at 10:30; it's like yo are telling us, yes, he did get up at 10:30; so IMO it's bullshitting to later say that was part of the dream.

BTW, in the opening scene of the movie, where Robinson is lecturing in the classroom, you see the shadows of venetian blinds on the wall... Double Indemnity is supposed to be the movie that made that famous, the first movie to use that technique; and DI was released 7 months before TWITW (April 1944 vs. November 1944). I just wonder if TWITW got that from DI, or if it was already in production before DI was released, and whether it was therefore "co-invented" by Billy Wilder and Fritz Lang. (Either way, of course, DI uses it in a much more famous way; I don't think TWITW uses much of the noir light/shadow stylistics; it's really a noir cuz of the situation, a typical noir situation of good guy gets into a situation way over his head, through maybe one small mistake and occurrences beyond his control, etc. )


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« #6 : June 13, 2014, 01:49:41 AM »



BTW, in the opening scene of the movie, where Robinson is lecturing in the classroom, you see the shadows of venetian blinds on the wall... Double Indemnity is supposed to be the movie that made that famous, the first movie to use that technique; and DI was released 7 months before TWITW (April 1944 vs. November 1944). I just wonder if TWITW got that from DI, or if it was already in production before DI was released, and whether it was therefore "co-invented" by Billy Wilder and Fritz Lang. (Either way, of course, DI uses it in a much more famous way; I don't think TWITW uses much of the noir light/shadow stylistics; it's really a noir cuz of the situation, a typical noir situation of good guy gets into a situation way over his head, through maybe one small mistake and occurrences beyond his control, etc. )

Don't trust these kind of statements who did what at first. They are too often wrong.


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« #7 : June 13, 2014, 09:42:23 AM »

Do you know of any American movie pre-1944 that used the shadow of the blinds?


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« #8 : June 16, 2014, 06:24:25 AM »

Do you know of any American movie pre-1944 that used the shadow of the blinds?
I can't really mention any specific films but I'm quite convinced that they have been used already in silent films. I really doubt you could find the first film where this was done. Seems like a German expressionist gimmick to me.


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« #9 : June 16, 2014, 12:25:24 PM »

To Have and Have Not is another example from the same year. Maybe Hawks used it already before. I think it was also in Torrid Zone (1940), if so, then it probably was stuff Warner liked to do. What about Orson Welles?


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« #10 : June 18, 2014, 08:01:04 PM »

I can't really mention any specific films but I'm quite convinced that they have been used already in silent films. I really doubt you could find the first film where this was done. Seems like a German expressionist gimmick to me.

again, I said American films. (I was actually thinking to say American sound films; maybe I should have  ;) )


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« #11 : June 18, 2014, 08:05:56 PM »


Not as good as Scarlet Street, though. A lot of people think of WitW as a kind of rehearsal by Lang and crew for SS. Whether this is a valid way to view things or not, the latter film seems better put together than the former (IMHO).

Are you actually saying that Lang was already planning SS when he made TWITW? From Robert Osborne's introduction on TCM, it seems that it was only after TWITW was successful that they decided to make another film with the same peeps, and that's why they made SS.


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« #12 : December 24, 2017, 08:55:42 PM »

I couldn't wait to see this. I had it on my list to see for a while, but decided to see it sooner after i found out the 3 principle characters were in this and Scarlett Street when i was discussing Scarlett Street in that thread.  They both are GREAT movies.  I have to give the edge to Scarlet Street. The ending of TWITW was a letdown.  I knew something was up though when the story shifted from the detectives, over to the Bodyguard blackmailing the professor and Alice.  Before that happened, this film had the makings of a masterpiece. In fact, it kinda paralleled Double Indemnity until it shifted.

Scarlett Street, on the other hand, stayed true to its plot and is a masterpiece in my view because of it. I GET what Lang was doing, but that necessarily didn't make me like it. For instance, when you think back on it, i kept wondering why the professor kept jokingly telling on himself. It makes sense now because of it all being a dream.  The motorcyle cop smiling at him at the red light. It makes sense now. I was wondering why the cop was grinning at him like that.  You could say he was smiling because the professor almost ran the red light, but it still seemed strange.

I still loved this film though. It was a pleasure to know that Scarlett Street was sort of a sequel to another film, because i LOVE Scarlett Street.  Because of the ending of TWITW, i give Scarlett Street the edge...

Cinematography- 1.5 points.  It was a beautiful movie, but the obvious set pieces kept it from being 2 points.

Musical Score- 1.5 points.  The scoring was spot on in that it fit the suspense of the film.

Acting- 1.5 points.  Robinson is a master.  His performance was very strong here.  

Plot- 1.5 points.  This could've been 2 points. The ending set it back.

Directing- 1.5 points.  That ending kept this from 2 points.

7.5 out of 10 points.



« : December 24, 2017, 08:57:37 PM Moorman »
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« #13 : December 25, 2017, 12:37:26 AM »

The ending has been much-criticized. People often assume it was something for the Production Code - perhaps if they had REALLY committed the crime, they’d have to die - but Lang defended the ending, in his interview with Peter Bogdanovich.

IMO the ending is a letdown to an otherwise spectacular film.

« : December 27, 2017, 08:10:31 PM drinkanddestroy »

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« #14 : December 27, 2017, 07:52:16 PM »

I've loved this film ever since I saw it about 12 years ago. I've seen it a number of times.

Even the ending doesn't bother me. The story is all wrapped up before....spoilers....before the professor wakes up. Seems to me that he learned his lesson from the nightmare: he should ignore the "call of adventure". Brilliant story with a good ending.

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