Friday, November 16, 2018

Prepare to be Shocked, but You’ll Still be Unprepared! TCM's Film Noir of the Week for Saturday Night-Sunday Morning at 12 a.m. ET (and 10 a.m. ET Sunday Morning) is Fritz Lang’s Classic, The Woman in the Window (1944), Starring Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Raymond Massey and Dan Duryea



By David in TN
Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 6:27:00 P.M. EST


Say goodbye to the wife and kiddies

TCM's Film Noir of the Week for Saturday Night-Sunday Morning at 12 a.m. ET (and 10 a.m. ET Sunday Morning) is The Woman in the Window (1944).


The Woman in the Window stars Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Raymond Massey and Dan Duryea. Fritz Lang directed.


Film Noir Guide: “After an evening of drinking with old friends at the men's club, a middle-aged assistant university professor (Robinson) stops to ogle a painting of a beautiful woman (Bennett) in a store window. As he stares longingly at the portrait, Bennett suddenly appears in the window reflection and, unbelievably, invites the astonished dreamer to have a couple of drinks with her. With his wife and kids out of town, Robinson gives in to temptation.”



In noir fashion, Bennett's boyfriend shows up, and violence, murder and cover-up ensue. Followed by another murder.


Lang and Bennett off camera

Woman in the Window has one of the surprise endings of all time. Some may like it, some may not.

Lang, Bennett, producer Walter Wanger, and another honcho. Were Bennett and Lang lovers?


N.S.: Fritz Lang was the greatest of all German directors. His output after fleeing Nazi Germany was mixed, not just due to problems adjusting to American culture, but because he was half a man. All of his German masterpieces (Dr. Mabuse I, II, and III, Metropolis and M) were collaborations with his second wife, Thea von Harbou, who remains Germany’s greatest screenwriter. Lang was a notorious tyrant in his treatment of his crews, even in comparison to other directors.

Lang and von Harbou at work

At the time of Lang’s departure from Nazi Germany (1933), he and von Harbou had either recently broken up, or were in the process of breaking up. She became an ardent Nazi, and wrote propaganda pictures for Hitler, while he co-founded the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League for the Defense of American Democracy (HANL) in 1936.

(According to the German Wikipedia, the HANL was a Communist front. “Die kurz HANL oder Anti-Nazi League genannte Vereinigung stand unter starkem Einfluss der Komintern.” “The organization, named the Anti-Nazi League, or HANL for short, was powerfully influenced by the Komintern.” A Russian agent of otherworldly charms named Otto Katz, who had run a Soviet propaganda film outfit and who had many “friends” and comrades in Hollywood, talked Lang into becoming the first free-spending “angel” bankrolling the front.)

Lang’s first wife, Lisa Rosenthal, died in 1920 of a gunshot wound from Lang’s own pistol after approximately one-and-a-half years of marriage, after catching Lang and von Harbou in flagrante. There are three different stories of how she died.

The death certificate said, “accidental death.” Lang and von Harbou insisted that Rosenthal had committed suicide. Friends and acquaintances would insist that Lang had murdered Rosenthal. One reason for this belief was that Rosenthal had just arranged to go shopping with a girlfriend, as soon as she finished bathing, hardly the run-up to a suicide (Patrick McGilligan. Fritz Lang: Nature of the Beast [New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1997]).


A youngish Lang. The monocle was an affectation.

In America, Lang kept his first marriage a secret.

Lang was born a Jew in Vienna, but was raised a Catholic by a mother who converted from Judaism to Catholicism when he was ten years old. The Nazis knew this, but were willing to ignore it.


Lang getting pushed around on the set of Metropolis

Those are the bare bones of Lang’s story. However, they are deceptive. We know that Lang was an opportunist and a pathological liar. Thus, one should take his role in founding the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League for the Defense of American Democracy with a grain of salt. He needed to prove his “anti-Facist” bona fides.

However, whatever Lang’s personal character was like, he had an unparalleled ability to bring evil, and crime and punishment to life on screen. The one great American picture of his that I have so far seen is The Big Heat (1953), starring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, and Lee Marvin.


A poster TCM commissioned for The Big Heat many years later

1 comment:

David In TN said...

TCM's Film Noir of the Week for Saturday Night-Sunday Morning at 12:45 am ET (and 10 am ET Sunday Morning) is Stanley Kubrick's The Killing (1956), one of the top "heist" films of all time.

Sterling Hayden stars as an ex-con who masterminds a scheme to rob a race track of two million dollars. He assembles a team of oddballs played by Jay C. Flippen, Elisha Cook, Ted de Corsia, Joe Sawyer, and Timothy Carey. With that bunch you know something bad will happen.

Marie Windsor is Cook's unfaithful wife, who threatens to blow the scheme. Colleen Gray is Hayden's girl friend, who waited for him through a prison term and hopes for the best.

It concludes with a noirish ironic ending.

Film Noir Guide: "A close second to THE classic heist film, The Asphalt Jungle, Kubrick's The Killing is an eloquent masterpiece that cries out for multiple viewings."