The Woman in the Window

Screening on Film
Directed by Fritz Lang.
With Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Raymond Massey.
US, 1944, 35mm, black & white, 99 min.
Print source: HFA

Already a strong motif in M, Fury, and You and Me, the desired object behind a shop window serves as the primary trigger for an inexorable chain of events in this quintessential film noir. Reversing course from his lawful role in Double Indemnity (1944), Edward G. Robinson here essays a shy psychology professor drawn into a web of self-betrayal after encountering Joan Bennett’s irresistible dream woman on a quiet, lonely night. Unquestionably more intimate in scale than the wartime films that preceded it, The Woman in the Window nevertheless maintains a rigorous analytical distance from the slippery events befalling the professor. A key transitional work in Lang’s filmography, this film inaugurated the director’s turn towards obsessive chamber dramas and the tightly controlled mise-en-scene characteristic of the cycle of films Tom Gunning calls the “desire trilogy” (The Woman in the Window, Scarlet Street, The Secret Beyond the Door).

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