Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 1, 2020


Edward G. Robinson
SCARLET STREET (1945). Director: Fritz Lang. 

Christopher Cross (Edward G. Robinson of Barbary Coast) is a cashier for a large company, as well as a part-time painter, and is married to a harridan, Adele (Rosalind Ivan), who is still obsessed with her late husband. One evening he intercedes when he sees a young woman, Kitty (Joan Bennett of The Man Who Reclaimed His Head), being slapped around by a guy and she befriends him. He doesn't realize that the abusive fellow, Johnny (Dan Duryea), is Kitty's boyfriend, and he importunes her to take advantage of the situation when they both wrongly surmise that Cross is rich. Before long Cross is stealing from his company, and things get worse after that ...

Dan Duryea and Joan Bennett
If you haven't seen this film noir masterpiece I won't spoil it by saying anything more about the plot, other than to say that Scarlet Street is thoroughly unpredictable, full of surprising and completely unexpected and highly ironic developments. The acting is first-rate, with both Robinson and Bennett outstanding in their roles, and there is excellent support from Duryea, Ivan, and Margaret Lindsay [Emergency Hospital] as Kitty's initial roommate, Millie. The roles of Cross' friends and co-workers are also filled with fine character actors, and the film is well photographed by Milton R. Krasner. Hans J. Salter also contributed an interesting score. Then there's the great screenplay by Dudley Nichols, based on a French mystery novel.  For my money this is far superior to the earlier Lang-Bennett-Robinson-Duryea collaboration The Woman in the Window.Jean Renoir also filmed this story as La chienne. An added side note: Some paintings that figure in the story line and which are seen as great art by some of the characters are the very definition of kitsch!

Verdict: Absorbing and well-made, beautifully-acted melodrama. ***1/2. 


angelman66 said...

Have never even heard of this one, but looks like a must see. I love noir queen Joan Bennett, obviously adore Edward G and the work of Fritz Lang. Will look for it!
- C

William said...

Chris, this is one that you should definitely put on your list! Fascinating, and Bennett is as good as Robinson!