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The Woman In The Window (Masters of Cinema) Blu
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(May 20, 2019)
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One of legendary director Fritz Lang's first noir films, The Woman in the Window is also rightfully considered one of the most important examples of the genre, a landmark movie that became one of the initial representations of noir first singled out by French critics after WWII. A triumph for Lang, legendary writer/producer Nunnally Johnson (The Grapes of Wrath), and leading man Edward G. Robinson (shedding his earlier gangster roles to portray a love-struck obsessive), the film remains a classic American nail-biter.
Robinson is Richard Wanley, a successful psychiatrist biding his time while his wife and children are on vacation when he encounters beautiful Alice (a radiant Joan Bennett), who bears an uncanny resemblance to the subject of a portrait he had just admired. When Richard and Alice retire to her home, her wealthy, jealous boyfriend intrudes, and is killed after a struggle. Alice convinces Richard to cover up the crime, but as Richard's district attorney friend (Raymond Massey) investigates and the boyfriend's bodyguard (Dan Duryea) begins to apply pressure to Richard, the walls begin to close in...
With a surprising climax years ahead of its time, The Woman in the Window is suspenseful film noir at its most seductive, while also serving as an excellent companion piece to the following year's Scarlet Street, which reunited Lang with Robinson, Bennett, and Duryea in strikingly similar roles. For anyone even remotely interested in film noir, The Woman in the Window is mandatory viewing, and The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present it in its UK debut on Blu-ray.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
- 1080p presentation on Blu-ray
- LPCM audio (original mono presentation)
- Optional English subtitles
- Brand new and exclusive video essay by critic David Cairns
- Feature Length Audio Commentary by Film Historian Imogen Sara Smith, author of In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City
- Original theatrical trailer
- PLUS: A Collector s booklet featuring new essays by film journalist and writer Amy Simmons; and film writer Samm Deighan; alongside rare archival imagery
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What can I say, a highly recommended film.
Sadly, it seems, that also somewhat overlooked masterpiece of cinematography - at least to all you fans of classy thrillers and suspense. This is the kind of film, which shows how monotonous they make many films these days: too much violence, the same worn-out harsh language lines, too small wardrobe (i.e. too much sex). To have a great film experience, what is needed is an excellent plot, some great acting from actors who fit their roles and some fine dialogue. This piece has them all.
It's ironic, that all the today's technical improvements - together with the sky-high budgets in movie industry - films like The Woman in the Window still stand very high.
After admiring a portrait of Alice Reed (Bennett) in the storefront window of the shop next to his Gentleman's Club, Professor Richard Wanley (Robinson) is shocked to actually meet her in person on the street. It's a meeting that leads to a killing, recrimination and blackmail.
Time has shown The Woman in the Window to be one of the most significant movies in the film noir cycle. It was part of the original group identified by Cahiers du Cinéma that formed the cornerstone of film noir (the others were The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, Laura and Murder My Sweet). Its reputation set in stone, it's a film that boasts many of the key noir ingredients: man meets woman and finds his life flipped upside down, shifty characters, a killing, shadows and low lights, and of course an atmosphere thick with suspense. Yet the ending to this day is divisive and, depending what side of the camp you side with, it makes the film either a high rank classic noir or a nearly high rank classic noir. Personally it bothers me does the finale, it comes off as something that Rod Serling could have used on The Twilight Zone but decided to discard. No doubt to my mind that had Lang put in the ending from the source, this would be a 10/10 movie, for everything else in it is top draw stuff.
At its core the film is about the dangers of stepping out of the normal, a peril of wish fulfilment in middle age, with Lang gleefully smothering the themes with the onset of a devilish fate and the stark warning that being caught just "once off guard" can doom you to the unthinkable. There's even the odd Freudian interpretation to sample. All of which is aided by the excellent work of Krasner, who along with his director paints a shadowy world consisting of mirrors, clocks and Venetian blinds. The cast are very strong, strong enough in fact for Robinson, Bennett and Duryea to re-team with Lang the following year for the similar, but better, Scarlet Street, while Lang's direction doesn't miss a beat.
A great film regardless of the Production Code appeasing ending, with its importance in the pantheon of film noir well deserved. But you sense that watching it as a companion piece to Scarlet Street, that Lang finally made the film that this sort of story deserved. The Woman in the Window: essential but not essentially the best of its type. 8/10
This is the idea role for Robinson. He made his name some 13 years earlier as the psychotic Little Caesar, but the nasty gangster image was as far from the real Robinson as it was possible to get, The mild mannered Wanley is a character that fits Robinson like a glove, he understands the man and gives a calm, controlled performance with a lot of depth. I was even more impressed with Fritz Lang's directing. More familiar with hi pre war visionary epics such as Metropolis, it was fascinating to watch him work on a much smaller canvas, telling a more intimate story of a small number of people. Lang's style works just as effectively here. The film is full of his trademark attention to forensic detail (here are shades of M in the depiction of the police investigation), carefully composed shots and choreographed performances. The shot composition is remarkable, with rooms and props carefully arranged in the view of the camera to give tantalising hints and suggestions as to what is to come.
The DVD print is excellent, with a clear sharp picture that shows the agonies on Robinson's face in almost painful detail. The sound is also sharp and clear, all round this is an excellent presentation of a deservedly highly regarded noir classic. Recommended to anyone with an interest in the genre.