There is a lot to be said for a movie that can weave an intriguing tale with only a few main characters to carry the plot and deliver the dialogue. Even when that type of movie originated in 1944 it can still hold one’s interest today if the actors are up to the task, which I felt they were in The Woman in the Window. The story they presented to the viewers was not only intriguing, it was quite mysterious and surprising in its entirety.
If you haven’t seen The Woman in the Window, please do NOT read about its details before hand as it would spoil all of your fun. I am so glad that I knew nothing about the plot before I watched this film a couple of nights ago on cable TV.
This drama unfolds so methodically that I was well into the story before I began to wonder just how all of the happenings were going to be resolved. One twist would soon be followed by another, although not at breakneck speed which made the plot easy for me to follow. Everything was well-paced, with events and evidence sort of “piling up” until the story became quite suspenseful as to what the outcome would be.
The main characters
The two top roles in The Woman in the Window were criminology professor Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson) and the beautiful and quite seductive Alice Reed (Joan Bennett). It was Reed’s portrait on display in a window that attracted the professor and led to his involvement in what turned out to be a most complicating and troubling turn of events in his life.
Throughout the film, Richard Wanley managed to maintain his professorial mannerisms and keep up with his friends at the men’s club. At the same time, he was stepping out of his usual lifestyle in order to have a dalliance of sorts with Reed.
Alice Reed was equally interesting – was she entrapping Professor Wanley or were both she and the professor finding themselves equally entrapped by the dramatic circumstances that occurred?
The ending, not to be disclosed in this review, came as a total surprise to me, the sign of a well-crafted plot and excellent film making.
Two other actors of interest in the film were Raymond Massey as Dist. Atty. Frank Lalor and Dan Duryea playing a dual role as Heidt and one other character in the film.
My impressions of the film
As I described in my review of A Place in the Sun, most of the events in The Woman in the Window took place at night, often in the rain. That leads to a bit of “murkiness” in an older black and white film that can prove distracting. However, I found the plot to be so interesting in this movie that I overlooked that “murkiness” and enjoyed the storyline from beginning to end.
The Woman in the Window may be an oldie, but in my opinion it is still a goodie and worth the time to see. It was interesting to view both Robinson’s and Bennett’s early work. According to Wikipedia.com, Edward G. Robinson went on to make a total of 101 films in his 50-year career, and Joan Bennett appeared in more than 70 motion pictures from the era of silent movies well into the sound era.
The director on The Woman in the Window, Fritz Lang, was dubbed the “Master of Darkness” by the British Film Institute.
The Woman in the Window is considered a classic film noir, defined by Wikipedia.com as a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood’s classical film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s.”
The Woman in the Window film trailer on YouTube. (The sound on this trailer doesn’t come across perfectly, but the sound in the movie was just fine).