The Woman in The Window (1944)
Cast: Edward G Robinson, Joan Bennett
Writers: J.H. Wallis(Novel) Nunally Johnson(Screenplay)
Director: Fritz Lang
This was recommended to me on my Netflix Que and since I am a fan of all kinds of movies I thought this would be a fun one to check out. Film Noir is one of my favorite genres and this one happens to be directed by Fritz Lang who is considered to be one of the best filmmakers of all time. The movie for the most part was really good. It had a great storyline and interesting characters. The stuff that wasn’t very good was at the last-minute. That very scene bought the rating down from a three and a half star rating to just a mere two. It’s a good flick that could have been even better if they didn’t ruin it by adding a stupid ending to it.
The following will contain spoilers. Usually I avoid this kind of thing but since this flick is way over sixty years old. I can’t really be too worried if I spoiled this for you by now.
In the movie we meet successful college professor Richard Wanley(Edward G Robinson) who has just met the beautiful Alice Reed(Joan Bennett). Although Richard is a happily married man he agrees to come back to her place for drinks. The two casually flirt with each other, but it’s clear that nothing is going to happen. When a former boyfriend comes home he becomes so jealous at Richard that he tries to kill him. Richard ends up killing him instead and decides to hide the body so that neither of them will be involved. After all no matter if it was in self-defense or not, he would still be a married man in the apartment of another woman. That is not something he would want to try to explain to his wife. While tying his best to hide the body from detectives and cops who are much better at finding criminals than he is at being one. Alice becomes the target of a neighbor who claims to have seen her and Richard with the body. He wants five grand to keep quiet otherwise he’s going to the cops. With the police getting closer, the two culprits decide to kill their blackmailer, but that plan backfires on them when he finds out about the poison she was going to give him. After he collects the five grand and leaves he is stopped by a cop. Instead of doing the smart thing and just stop to talk he runs away and gets shot. Later they find evidence pinning the crime on him instead of Richard and Alice, but it is too late. Richard not being able to deal with the consequences of his involvement with murder and of him flirting with another woman, decides to kill himself. He even uses the very same drugs they were going to use to kill the blackmailing neighbor on himself. Alice in a desperate attempt tries to contact him by phone, but it is too late. Richard has just swallowed the drugs just as he hears the phone rings.
This is how the movie should have ended, but instead we get was that it was all just a dream. Richard wakes up in a bar he was at before he met Alice and as he leaves he sees people who were in the story earlier. He meets the guy he murdered , and the guy who was blackmailing them, but they are all very much alive and have different jobs. When he finally meets Alice, he doesn’t even respond to her question. He just runs away quick while a light-hearted score closes out the movie.
To even call this one a film noir is a damn insult. Movies like this don’t have happy endings. It goes against the very ideal and nature of this genre. This is the first movie I have seen from Fritz Lang, but something tells me that the studio added a happier ending because they didn’t want to take a chance on a bleak ending. I hope this gets remade in the future because there is an opportunity to really tell a good story. Let’s not rewrite history if we haven’t learned anything from it.