Thursday, July 7, 2011

Scarlet Street

Directed by Fritz Lang.
1945. Not Rated, 103 minutes.
Edward G. Robinson
Joan Bennett
Dan Duryea
Rosalind Ivan

Christopher (Robinson) is going through a middle-age crisis and feels trapped in a loveless marriage. When the young and beautiful Kitty (Bennett) shows some interest in him, he immediately fall head over heels. Believing him to be a wealthy and famous painter, Kitty sets out ot bilk him of his money at the behest of her abusive boyfriend Johnny (Duryea). Lots of lying and conniving ensues. This is an underrated WWII era gem with a dizzying number of plot twists. Each of them is expertly handled and continues the movie's spiral towards it's dark conclusion. In fact, it's ending is so dark I'm convinced that director Fritz Lang truly hates Christopher (see spoiler below). Edward G. Robinson trades in his more famous gangster motif for that of a square and is as brilliant as ever.

MY SCORE: 10/10


  1. Love this film. It's what noir should be, uber dark and filled with morally bankrupt characters. I seems incredible now that neither Robinson nor Joan Bennett were nominated for this, even more shocking to realize that neither was EVER nominated for anything. The two of them would have been my choices to win the prize this year. Joan Bennett had such an odd career path, she spent the early years of her career as a capable but unmemorable blonde sweet young thing until about 1939 when she switched to brunette and a much tougher persona and found her niche with Lang and noir.

    Lang was a tough, foul mouthed task master and apparently drove many of his actors to near mutiny but Joan was herself a tough customer who could give as well as she got and she became a favorite of the director with her no bullshit attitude. The result is some of both of their best films.

    The slimy Duryea, reportedly a very nice man behind the scenes, was perfect for noir as well. Funny how the kings of weaselly bad guys in film noir, Richard Widmark, Robert Ryan and Duryea, were all fiercely liberal and famously kind off camera. I guess they were able to funnel any antagonism they had though the rotten bastards they played on screen.

  2. Such a shame how overlooked this movie had been. It's a fabulous piece of noir. Thanks for so much info, and for digging back through the archives for this one. Great comment!