HGA

The Woman in the Window (1944)


Joan Bennett and Edward G. Robinson
Joan Bennett and Edward G. Robinson


'The Woman in the Window' is an highly entertaining film noir made in 1944, directed by Fritz Lang and starring Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Raymond Massey, and Dan Duryea.

The movie was adapted from The 1942 novel Once Off Guard, by J H Wallis.

The film was critically well received and did well at the box office, although the film's ending was not universally praised. In August 2015, the online entertainment magazine 'Paste' named the film as the best film noir of all time and the very term "film noir" originated ... a genre description, in part, because of this movie.

The film received one Oscar nomination in the Music (Music Score of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture) category. It lost out to Miklós Rózsa who got the award for 'Spellbound'.

Plot

Edward G. Robinson plays Richard Wanley, a kindly family man and professor of criminology who, in self-defence, kills a man, with the help of Alice Reed, a beautiful model played by Joan Bennett. They dump the body and try to forget it but a crook played by Dan Duryea, threatens to blackmail them. There are many twists and turns as the police get closer and closer. The final ending is a complete surprise and I'm not going to spoil your enjoyment by revealing it here.

Production

The move's storyline was adapted from J. H. Wallis' 1942 novel "Once Off Guard". Scriptwriter Nunnally Johnson, having written among many others the script to the successful The Grapes of Wrath (1940), was invited by International Pictures to a picture deal, and The Woman in the Window was chosen as its premiere project.

The studio working title of the picture was 'Once Off Guard', the same as the original novel.

Shooting began in December 1943, with background footage shot in New York City. In May and June 1944, the film was shot on soundstages of various studios including the Paramount, RKO, PRC, Selznick and Goldwyn studios.

Against the wishes of scriptwriter and producer, Nunnally Johnson, director Fritz Lang substituted the film's ending in place of the originally scripted ending, to conform with the moralistic Production Code of the time.

The painting of Alice Reed which starts the plot rolling, was done by Paul Clemens who was the husband of Eleanor Parker from 1954 to 1965. He was responsible for portraits of many Hollywood stars and their children.

The three leads, Edward G. Robinson, Dan Duryea, and Joan Bennett went on to play the three leads in Fritz Lang's next film, another noir, 'Scarlet Street' in 1945.

Main Cast

A top class line up, all at the top of their game.
Edward G. Robinson ... Professor Richard Wanley
Joan Bennett ... Alice Reed
Raymond Massey ... Dist. Atty. Frank Lalor
Edmund Breon ... Dr. Michael Barkstane
Dan Duryea ... Heidt/Tim, the Doorman
Thomas E. Jackson ... Inspector Jackson, Homicide Bureau
Dorothy Peterson ... Mrs. Wanley
Arthur Loft ... Claude Mazard/Frank Howard/Charlie the Hat check Man
Iris Adrian ... Woman who asks for a light

Credits

Director ... Fritz Lang
Producer ... Nunnally Johnson
Screenplay ... Nunnally Johnson
Music ... Arthur Lange
Cinematography ... Milton R. Krasner
Production Company ... International Pictures
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Format ... B & W
Release date ... November 3, 1944
Running time ... 99 minutes

Academy Awards

No Wins:
One Unsuccessful Nomination:
Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture ... Hugo Friedhofer and Arthur Lange