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3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Scarlet Street (1945) [DVD]
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on 14 November 2017
Kino,the best.Stunning B/W copying from the 35mm master.10/10.Nice box cover as well.Treasure it worth every cent or wherever you buy a copy.
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on 2 April 2010
Scarlet Street is a classical cinenoir. You have here femme fatale, a sucker and an evil cad. You name any characteristic of noir film and you have it here.But the film goes much beyond the standard clichées of noir film. That is the achievement of the director of the film,Fritz Lang. He has turned the film into the work of art.

Edward G.Robinson plays Christopher Cross, a cashier cum sunday painter, a sucker type. He is besotted with a young actress,Kitty March(Joan Bennett). She,in turn,is madly in love with a blackmailer Johnny(Dan Duryea). He wants her to abuse Cross's tender feelings for her to fleece him of big amounts of money.He wants the money for his dubious schemes that will lead him to the life on easy street. The way story proceeds,the sunday painter's works are sold for high prices,without him getting any credit or sou. The paintings were sold as the works of a reclusive Kitty March. Mr.Cross is still besotted with Kitty,in the meantime, he is free from his bad marriage by a twist in the story, wants to marry her.That is the moment of truth for him. She humiliates him,calls him a loser and in a fit of rage he kills Kitty.

Visually the film is stunning. That is the legacy of Fritz Lang, who was credited with bringing expressionist German art of his time into Hollywood films. The film has some dozen scenes shot through glass doors,or reflections in the mirror to create different planes of space and depth. The way camera moves,one has the feeling of being there.

For the ironies of life,watch carefully the court scene with different testimonies and opinions regarding the murder and Mr.Cross.Another great scene is when Johnny is led to the death chamber. That scene is a masterpiece in visual effects,almost three dimensional.The conflict of conscience scene with Mr.Cross at the end of the film is another memorable sequence.

The characters in the film are so well-defined and developed that they really go through the skin.

When I saw this film on DVD for the first time a few years back,it impressed me very much despite the poor video quality. I was waiting a long time for a good quality dvd transfer. This edition of the film does full justice to a great film with remastered dvd transfer. The dvd also supplies an excellent booklet on the main actors and the director.

A must in the collection of every film lover!!
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on 21 October 2009
Made just a year after Lang's The Woman in The Window, Scarlett Street is very much a follow up to that film. Although it isn't the same narrative, it uses the same principal actors from the previous, while exploring similar themes. While not the same in terms of cinematography, Scarlett Street rather builds its peculiar tension through the intricate relationships and connections between the characters, the lies, deceit and suspicions. While the audience might find its sympathy with Edward G. Robinson's character, there is not really any character in this that is not in some way very flawed or wronging someone else.

It is darker than The Woman in The Window, but less mysterious. Building less on formal principles, Scarlett Street is a looser film in terms of structure, but that doesn't diminish the straining tension which is built up as the narrative progresses. The films might seem on the surface to be fairly typical noir films, but Lang's films make themselves noteworthy from the rest of the genre with their uniquely intricate cinematography, complex relationships which strengthen the narrative and unnerving tension built up.

For some reason, it seems, Lang's American films haven't received as much attention as his early silent work, particularly M and Metropolis. But I do feel that his films are just as good, or indeed, even better than his European output. His films are dark, mysterious, ambiguous and subtle, interweaving the different elements that makes his films such intricate narratives, and I find his building of tension and meaning much more elegant than most directors of the same era. Fritz Lang was very much the equal of such masters as Max Ophüls, Alfred Hitchcock and Douglas Sirk. Perhaps because he wasn't very popular in Hollywood or because his films were very controversial was the reason for him later on not being as famous or talked about.

Still, The Woman in The Window and Scarlett Street are two excellent films, and are great introductions to the German master's work in Hollywood. Top class noir.
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on 26 July 2012
Do not be tempted to buy this DVD. I omitted to notice that it is released by Elstree Hill which is the worst DVD manufacturer/distributor I have come across. The transfer is quite obviously direct from VHS so the picture quality is indistinct, blurry and, in a word, rubbish. The DVD has gone straight down the local charity shop.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 20 July 2015
I confess to being a bit torn about Scarlet Street. For film noir fans, it is surely a 5-star film, and it is about as inky-black as you can get in its take on life. The main character, Chris Cross, memorably played by Edward G. Robinson, is a humble cashier who is seen at the beginning receiving a gold watch for 25 years of loyal service to a bank. He quickly falls from his ordinary unhappiness into a far worse state of obsession with a floozy who is prepared to strip him of every penny she can. Then her louche boyfriend hits upon an idea, prompted by fate, to make her the painter of works done by Chris, and so the fleecing takes off apace, and with fascinatingly twisted results. Joan Bennett is brilliant as Kitty, even if you can sense she's not like the character she's playing. For one thing a sense of intelligence floats around the voice, even though she's meant to be none-too-bright, or likeable. Of course, the film benefits from her being like this when Cross, so much older and more sensitive, is completely besotted with her. Its basis in observable truth justifies the whole film, the whole genre, which has it that corruption is only ever a step away, and callow behaviour to be expected. She prefers her lowlife Johnny Prince - again an ironic name: far from being a knight in shining armour, he beats her up, but she thinks this is all par for the course. It is a bleak vision in which even Chris ends up trapped in the torments of hell. For this reason, in spite of the undoubted brilliance of the mise-en-scene, I wonder if the philosophy isn't applied with too much of a will. It has to be in there that Cross's wife is unbearable as well, of course. What saves it is the amazing performances from the three leads, especially Robinson, whose character I found immensely sympathetic, although for many his meekness seems to place him in the realm of the permanently tarnished too.
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VINE VOICEon 26 December 2007
"Scarlet Street" was directed by Fritz Lang in 1945 and adapted for the screen by Dudley Nichols from the the French novel "La Chienne" (George de la Fouchardiere,1930). It had previous been filmed by Jean Renior in 1930 starring Michel Simon. With such classics as "Dr Mabuse: The Gambler"(1922), "Metropolis"(1927), "M"(1931) Lang established himself as a true innovator in German expressionist cinema and its that quality which he would take with him when he moved to Hollywood in the mid 30s. Lang can be credited as a major player in the development of Film Noir where imagery would become a significant part of the story. His first two American films "Fury"(1936) and "You Only Live Once"(1937) are often credited as two of the earliest examples of Film Noir before the 1940s. In 1944 and 1945 he made three classics of Film Noir: "Ministry of Fear", "The Woman in the Window"(1944) and "Scarlett Street"(1945). It can be difficult for younger audiences to appreciate what makes Lang so important because many of his cinematic innovations seem commonplace today but Lang's dark vision of modern metropoli and a deep sense of paranoia and fear was truly original at the time. "Scarlet Street" contains one of the most popular themes of Film Noir, a femme fatale luring an upstanding man into the whirlpool of the Noir world that makes it an entertaining genre to watch. The femme fatale character of Kitty performed brilliantly by Joan Bennett is for me quite possibly the finest examples of this type of character in Film Noir and can be traced back to German cinema like "Pandora's Box"(Pabst, 1929) and "The Blue Angel"(von Sternberg, 1930) There is a certain amount of physical and moral debasement of male characters at play in these films that serves as a key motif of Film Noir. Joan Bennett must surely be regarded on the same level as Gloria Graeme, Barbara Stanwyck, Rita Hayworth and Joan Crawford in similar roles. Film Noir buffs will not want to miss this essential and key work of Film Noir.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 May 2013
Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street (1945) is one of the greatest film noirs and should be in every serious film collection. It is therefore deeply frustrating that there seems to be no 'official' release of it on DVD. The film ranks alongside Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep (1948) and Lang's own later The Big Heat (1953), but where those films are presented in pristine releases by Warner Brothers and Columbia, Scarlet Street appears only on independent (pirate?) labels. I avoided the Elstree Hill release as I know their treatment of classic films is shoddy to say the least and went for the version under review released by Odeon Entertainment in Sep. 2008. Although it is presented in the correct 4:3 aspect ratio (unlike all Elstree Hill releases that I have seen!), something seems to have gone wrong with the digital remastering. Tiny lines appear every time there is movement within a frame and big movements (those pans and zooms so important to Lang) produce distortion and lack of focus to a degree which ruins Milton R. Krasner's extraordinary photography and Lang's careful framing.

'Framing' is the ultimate watchword here in a film all about a meek and mild bank cashier (Chris Cross) obsessed with a wayward woman (Kitty - a prostitute?) who together with her pimp boyfriend (Johnny) proceed to frame him to extort all the money they can get. Cross is trapped (framed) in every way imaginable. First seen being presented with a watch, he is trapped within the time he has left to live (Lang constantly alludes to time passing throughout the picture with the clock being literally a 'destiny machine' driving Cross towards his doomed fate), then we see how he is trapped within a suffocating marriage, trapped by his job (notice the cage from which he is 'released' at the end of each day at work), and trapped by his own sexual inadequacy. He confesses to never having seen a woman's naked body and responds to sexual arousal with the violence of an infant confronted by his parents having sex in front of him. This 'castration anxiety' is just one of many Freudian strands to snake through the film. Note the phallic cigar of his boss lit just before he exits to have a date with a young girl. Then there is the character of Johnny the pimp who is presented as sex incarnate with his pin stripe suits and phallic hat spotted at key moments of the film. Lang encapsulates his evil sexuality with a dissolve from that character to the snake depicted in one of Cross's pictures. Most obvious of all the Freudian references is (after the 'primal scene' of seeing through a square window Kitty and Johnny kissing - Johnny's phallic hat at the bottom of the frame) the way Cross stabs Kitty with an ice pick, the thrusting mimicking the sex act itself. Cross's only escape is painting which Lang points out is just another way of 'framing' reality. He confesses to a 'lack of perspective' which again, is exactly what the film is all about. His painting makes the film an exploration of film-making itself with Cross as Lang's doppelganger. Just as Cross paints and frames, so does Lang with shot after shot of amazing compositions of circles within squares (especially the apartment Cross rents for Kitty, Cross's workplace and the bar where he talks with his wife's supposedly 'dead' husband - note the round circles surrounded by a square window behind their table) providing for an extraordinarily suffocating visual style. Cross is doomed the minute he stoops to help the maiden in distress and that is related with impeccable visual logic by Lang, the master architect. The main character's very name (Chris Cross) is a perfect metaphor for the way Lang suffocates him with his grid-like, criss-cross mise-en-scene so that at the very end he has lost all grip on his own identity. The final sequence of Cross as a hobo hobbling past the art dealer to be confronted by the 'self portrait' of Kitty which is sold for $10,000 he couldn't gain even if he wanted to, is one of cinema's most powerful statements of an individual crushed by the evils of the contemporary world - I find it extraordinarily moving.

It's often said that Lang made his best films in Germany and that he took a step backwards in Hollywood. I don't think this is strictly true. While he did have to sacrifice the absolute artistic control he enjoyed at Germany to the fussy producer-driven commercialism of Hollywood studios who certainly did interfere intolerably in much of his American work, there are films which seem to have escaped the various hacks. I'd single out You Only Live Once (1937), Woman in the Window (1944), The Big Heat (1953) and Scarlet Street as being pretty much as Lang wanted them to be. He is on record as saying he was happiest with Scarlet Street out of all his American output, and I'd put all four films on the same level of achievement as films such as Dr. Mabuse (1922), Die Nibelungen (1924) and Spione (1928). At the same time they are all significantly better than Metropolis (1926) - a film which to my mind is over-rated. M (1931) was his greatest achievement - there's no question about that, but the way Scarlet Street is shot (so different from Renoir's La Chienne (1931) by the way) shows it is so obviously the product of the same director. It is astonishing to me that in a world where we have umpteen editions of Hitchcock films to choose from, even the best of Lang remains hard to find in good transfers. To me Scarlet Street compares very well with the best of Hitchcock and deserves the very best presentation on DVD. This release, alas, is not it. I advise waiting for Universal to get their act together and release the film properly before purchasing.
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on 21 March 2011
Film Noir is one of the only genres that you can get away with packing the film with unlikable people. There doesn't really need to be someone who is a traditional hero for the film to work, just an antihero who is slightly nicer than the rest of the lowlifes on show. `Scarlet Street' follows this to a tea, with an ensemble of unlikable and hapless people. Christopher Cross has worked loyally in a bank for years, but when his head is turned by the pretty young Kitty he decides to start taking money from his employer. You see, Kitty needs money to move into a new flat and whilst she lives there Chris can continue his hobby as a painter. However, Kitty is less sweetness and light, and more bitterness and dark, as she and her boyfriend, Johnny, are taking Chris for a ride. Who will prosper out of this bag `o' scoundrel?

`Scarlet Street' is a slow burn, but once it gets going the film is fantastic. At the beginning Chris is a complete patsy and is taken full advantage of, but Edward G Robinson plays him to perfection. Yes Chris is weak, but should we sympathise with him? Perhaps he should actually stand up for himself once in a while and stop robbing money for a woman he can never attain. If you think Chris is bad, Kitty and Johnny are far worse; they are incredibly selfish and will do anything it takes to get what they want. As the film progresses the triangle of crime becomes more confused and complex. By the finale you have learned to dislike every character in their own way and witness how they rise and then fall.

As a three act piece of cinema director Fritz Lang almost created a note perfect film; the introduction, the story and the conclusion. No one who deserves to be punished is left; people get their comeuppance in a dark way that hints at divine intervention. The intelligent script weaves a complex plot that pays off brilliantly. The only downside is the cheesy performance of Dan Duryea as Johnny, which is not in keeping with the more subtle Robinson. Despite this, noir fans should certainly hunt the film out.
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on 1 April 2002
'Scarlet Street' is one of the most powerful, yet at times understated of Fritz Lang's films. The principal male lead, Edward G Robinson, is a downtrodden bank clerk, in a job going nowhere, trapped in a loveless marriage. After a celebratory meal with his work colleagues, wherein he is presented with an engraved watch for his years of long service, Robinson interrupts a violent argument between a young couple. From then on, he is sucked into a netherworld leading ultimately to murder and his own despair and dissolution. This is a masterly portrayal, with fine supporting performances from Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea as the conspirators in Robinson's downfall. Duryea was a very interesting actor; although never a 'A' list lead, he brings a swagger and loathsome, smugly manipulative quality to his portrayal of the smalltime huckster Johnny Prince. Joan Bennett is louche and languid, but more than willing to string Robinson along for all it's worth. More twists than a barrel full of pretzels, 'Scarlet Street' is bleak, sad, and drenched in the blackest of black humour. Robinson certainly doesn't deserve his fate, or does he? Whatever, 'Scarlet Street' is a safe home for your entertainment Euros, that repays repeated viewings.
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on 7 November 2016
very good dvd
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