The Woman in the Window - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Woman in the Window Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ August 28, 2008
Pure noir gold.
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
½ January 5, 2013
Fritz Lang's "The Woman in the Window" is a reasonably good but second-rate film noir, starring Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett. It's hard to believe that the same man directed this and 1927's "Metropolis."

"The Woman in the Window" isn't terrible, but it almost completely lacks ingenuity. The cinematography is uninteresting, the sets and costumes run-of-the-mill, and the story rather thin. But it does hold one's interest, and there are moments of real tension.

Robinson plays a college professor who specializes in criminal psychology. He gets wrapped up in a murder with a woman (Bennett) he meets on the street late at night. It is fun to watch them try to cover it up. But the twists and turns are pretty much what you'd expect from a B picture.

There's also a tremendously lame twist ending built to make the film palatable to a Disney audience. I suppose Lang was pushed by the studio to end it this way. But it's still lame of Lang to have given in. He should have pushed back harder. It seems clear that in this period Lang cared more about earning his salary than making true cinema. From world-famous artist to studio hack in 20 years. What a disappointment.

Lang was an Austrian Jew who fled the Nazis and ended up in Hollywood. Another Austrian Jew who did the same was Billy Wilder. While Lang's creative period was over, Wilder's was just beginning. By coincidence, Wilder also directed a film noir in 1944: "Double Indemnity," starring Barbara Stanwyck. If you want to see first-rate film noir, skip Lang's film and watch Wilder's.
Super Reviewer
½ September 26, 2012
This is a more intense version of Scarlett Street, and I can't decide which one I like better, but they have such similar plots, I get them mixed up.
Super Reviewer
½ February 22, 2011
First M, then Metropolis, and now The Woman in the Window. It seems that when Lang is at the helm, I can always expect a great film. While this is the first film of his that I have seen of his days in America, it appears that his transpacific migration did not have a negative effect on his eye for fantastic cinema.
This slick noir features an aging professor Richard Wanley who is played by Edward G. Robinson. While Wanley's family is out of town, he fears going out on the town with his friends because he knows to ignore what he calls the , "Siren call of adventure." While the lure of eroticism is constantly hovering around him, he prefers to stay inside. However, upon a fateful encounter with a young woman, he becomes involved in a murder.
Lang expertly gives the viewer the sense of Wanley's inner turmoil as the police begin to gather evidence that could lead to his conviction. Lang's constant use of mirrors illuminate the double nature of these characters while his use of clocks help to build suspense and shows that time waits for no man, regardless of class.
To the chagrin of many, the twist ending adds another element to Lang's theme of sexual repression. While I was a bit disappointed, it does seem logical for Lang to use this twist seeing as he was the man who helped bring about a similar twist in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
All in all, a densely packed film that is not only a success for fans of Lang, but for fans of Noir as well.
Super Reviewer
½ January 21, 2009
Hard-core noir until, right at the very end, it turns into a Dean Jones Disney movie. Oh so close to 5 stars.
Super Reviewer
½ July 16, 2007
Woman in the Window is a good piece of film noir even if it isn't an essential one. Edward G. Robinson plays a great sap and Joan Bennett is as beautiful (even if she's not as evil) as ever. Fritz Lang's direction is great as usual with some great supporting performances including Dan Duryea playing his usual shitball characters he was less than famous for. The chemistry between Robinson and Bennett is great even if the ending wraps things up conveniently. Not a great movie but I still liked it.
Super Reviewer
August 27, 2008
a great noir right up until that copout at the end! apparently lang's original ending didn't test well. i wish i hadn't seen the last five minutes! : (
Super Reviewer
½ November 23, 2010
I've been wanting to compare this side by side with Scarlet Street from the following year. They have a lot in common. I happened to watch this one second of the two and was not quite as impressed. Both thrillers are directed by Fritz Lang. Both star Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett with Dan Duryea and Arthur Loft in supporting roles. Milton Krasner photographed both as well. They both include a painting of Bennett, the use of radio ads to set the scene, and a murderer trying to cover up their crime under pressure. Here's how they differ. Nunnally Johnson adapts this screenplay with Robinson as a slightly more charming professor of psychology. Professor Wanley is friends with his doctor (Breon) and the District Attorney (Massey) at his gentleman's club. They tease him about being a temporary bachelor since his wife and children are out of town. By a strange coincidence he soon meets Bennett's character Alice while admiring a portrait of her. Joan Bennett has a less nuanced role to play here. I wondered for awhile if she would turn out to be more cunning than she appears, but she is the slightly more mild mannered one here. The murder happens much earlier in the plot. Wanley and Alice contrive to cover up the murder with their limited knowledge of criminal activity and go about their lives. Wanley quickly learns who the victim was from his friend the D.A. and clumsily begins admitting facts about the crime that could get him caught. He tries to stay one step ahead by staying close to the investigation. A man (Duryea) shows up intending to blackmail Alice and her accomplice. Can the amateur criminals hope to outwit this man with a record and the police? There is plenty of suspense. The twist at the end shows it is only meant to be a morality lesson, but the darker ending would probably have been better.
Super Reviewer
½ August 31, 2012
Though "The Woman in the Window" may not be a totally perfect noir, it's a work of considerable significance, and it's enthralling for most of its running length. Despite being slow moving and, at times, contrived, "The Woman in the Window" features some impressive camerawork and a constantly foreboding atmosphere, both of which are the result of Fritz Lang's skilled direction. As well, there are some legitimate thrills to be found, even though some of them are dampened by flat dialogue and incredulous plot points. The ending will no doubt frustrate its viewers, but, if anything, it's an effective, if cheap, way to end an otherwise well-handled noir thriller.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
May 26, 2011
I've seen countless pictures of the same story of a man who gets into a dilemma involving a crime he's committed, comes up with a plan and with the help of an accomplice (or witness) to escape from a tragic crime or better yet running away with their personal guilt. This is not one of Fritz Lang's best but it's a nice little story where he uses good use of rain and dark shadows and light. The performances is key and the suspense is almost tight. Dan Dureya who would later play a pimp in Lang's "Scarlet Street" is just as fierce, witty, and deadly. Duryea's character is a flaw--How does he know all the p's and q's of the murder scene when he inspects Joan Bennett's character's house? The plot is unbelivable and expected (good viewers will notice the clues) but it's not a bad picture though. Not at all. Lang is a first rate storyteller. He seems to be interested in noirs and plots involving murders and dilemmas. Lang would again work with Robinson, Duryea, and Bennett in "Scarlet Street".
Super Reviewer
April 30, 2011
Another addition to Lang's masterful dark universe, this tale, of a professor going rogue for a night by circumstance, is gripping and thoughtful at the same time. The fact that it's all a dream sequence is Lang's way of winking at an older man's daydream. A resolution that you'd easily turn down in hands of other directors, yet here you can't help but enjoying it from the hands of the auteur. Recommended.
Super Reviewer
½ January 18, 2011
Is there a greater cinematic kick in the nuts to an audience than turning the preceding hour and thirty minutes of a film into nothing more than some fat, middle-aged man's daydream? Not only that but the main character's subconscious isn't even creative enough to come up with an interesting and or suspenseful conclusion to his own fantasy. The antagonist' threat simply ends because he 'just-so-conveniently-happens' to get shot by the police. GEE! So, if you're interested in seeing how to not write a script, watch the whole thing. If not, stop at approximately the 1 hour and 30 minute mark.
Super Reviewer
September 3, 2010
It is always nice to see actors cast in unusual, non-typical roles (as happened with Ernest Borgnine in Marty or the Duke in the Quiet Man). For once, Edward G. Robinson is allowed play an "innocent" professor instead of the badguy. The movie is a pitch-black noir with all the elements that make this genre so great. Dead-pan humour, a femme fatale, shady characters and lots fo lurking in shadows and rain, rain, rain. Alas, I found that Dun Duryea could not fill his role with enough menace to make it trukly daunting, but that is not too bad a thing.

However, the ending is a joke and terribly executed. True, it does not make the film any worse but it leaves you with a screwy aftertaste and knocked down my rating quiet a bit.

A solid film noir that is boosted by relying on genre parameters but fails to deliver a satisfying ending.

December 13, 2011
Good noir story, but basically a retelling of Scarlett Street, and not as good. In Scarlett Street, Robinson's character is a little more pathetic and interesting, and Joan Bennett has much more interesting motivations and interests. Still solid, except for the ending which feels tacked on and negates everything before it.
½ July 18, 2013
For much of its brisk running time, The Woman in the Window plays like another balls-to-the-wall gem from the rarely-less-than-masterful Fritz Lang.
December 17, 2012
The suspense was pretty good, even though the killer made it too obvious for the detectives, until the part which Dan Duryea's character tries to blackmail the main ones. The ending was way too disappointing.
½ March 10, 2012
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW, coupled with SCARLET STREET, form a formidable duo in Lang's mature American style. The director who may have singlehandedly developed the style that would come to be known as "noir" never relented. Even his latest Indian films are forceful and dense with Lang's characteristic fatalism. He may be more recalled for his work in erecting German cinema, but his cross-pollination with American studio mandate produced a series, from FURY to BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, containing some of the most influential and memorable films from the 30's, 40's, and 50's.

Underneath an ideal surface example of the "noir" construct, Lang interjects a deft psychological evaluation of the increasing voyeurism in American culture -- perhaps encouraged by cinema? Robinson's plunge into fate's grip is all suggested by his fixation on a portrait. Here, Lang smartly plays on the same construct on which Hollywood operates -- the relationship between image and audience. Most potently, he understands that this relationship is a sexual one. A connection between idealized and unreachable models cinema has taught us to build. The kind of kernel that has been gnawing away self-image for a century. However, instead of glorifying and capitalizing on this relationship, Lang inverts it and demonstrates how it can hijack common sense. HOUSE BY THE RIVER shows the same obsession with the human connection with ideals and sex. Furthermore, it introduces a concept key to Lang's greater ideology -- sex and death are forever entwined as basic necessities.

We must immediately forgive the ending, like we must do for countless other pictures of this era. It is remarkable that Lang even managed to cultivate such an unforgiving portrait of Americana. In fact the ending only serves to further his evaluation of the viewer's fatal, sexual relationship with art.

Like they would repeat in SCARLET STREET, Robinson and Bennett turn in a fine chemistry. Robinson is not an attractive man. But he rejects our need for such a character by inspiring the bumbling, nervous moments of idiocy that we all know in ourselves. There is something about the way Bennett lights her cigarettes that signal danger. WOMAN IN THE WINDOW does not present her as the appalling bitch that she would be in SCARLET STREET, but the smoke hovers around her like an evaporating halo. And her youthful power complex is just right for dragging Robinson into the abyss.

Lang managed to be so damning and so hateful while simultaneously constructing a new American style. So many of these films demand a viewing and so few of them get one. A renaissance of this formidable cycle is needed.

½ February 28, 2012
Fritz Lang molded this film with precision and conspicuous irony throughout, creating a perspective filled with tension and wavering beliefs. He puts us directly in the mind of the murderer without voice-overs or scenes of confession. A good and moral professor, played by Edward G. Robinson, hits rock bottom when he makes an impulsive and frightened response to a raging boyfriend of a woman he befriends. Required for any lover of film noir, or of films in general.
½ April 4, 2011
Not a big fan of the "I woke up and it was all a dream" ending but I have to judge this film by the constraints of the Production Code (the "bad guy" would have had to go to jail or get killed). Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett were a strange on-screen pair but it worked fabulously here and in Scarlet Street.
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