The Woman in the Window (1944)

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

'The Woman in the Window' is a dramatic film noir mystery made in 1944 but which has retained its impact to the present day. It has a strong cast with Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Raymond Massey and Dan Duryea and was directed by Fritz Lang.

The movie received one unsuccessful Academy Award nomination for Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture. In August 2015, the online entertainment magazine Paste named the film as the best film noir of all time. It is certainly an example of post-war filmmaking at its finest.


Edward G. Robinson plays Professor Richard Wanley, who we see admiring a painting of a beautiful woman in a store window. He notices that the beautiful model who posed for the portrait (JoanBennett) is standing behind him. He innocently accepts her invitation to her apartment, but unexpectedly meets her abusive boyfriend and kills him during a fight. He then disposes of the body, and is drawn into an increasingly nightmarish world of lies, deceit, and, possibly, another murder. There is a surprise ending and I'm not going to spoil all by giving it away.


This is one of the original movies for which the term 'Film Noir' was coined. It is based on a 1942 story by J.H. Wallis called 'Once off Guard'. The title was changed as they thought the word "guard" sounded too much like "God".

Shooting began in late 1943 with background footage in New York City. The bulk of the movie was filmed on soundstages at the Goldwyn, Paramount, RKO, PRC and Selznick studios.

The eponymous painting of Joan Bennett was painted by American portrait painter, Paul Clemens.

The surprise twist in the ending was thought up by Fritz Lang but was initially opposed by producer and writer, Nunnally Johnson.

In 1945, Lang brought actors Bennett, Robinson and Dan Duryea together again with director of photography Milton Krasner for the film noir 'Scarlet Street'.

Main Cast

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
Dorothy Peterson ... Mrs. Wanley
Arthur Loft ... Claude Mazard/Frank Howard/Charlie the Hat check Man


Director ... Fritz Lang
Producer ... Nunnally Johnson
Screenplay ... Nunnally Johnson (based on the novel Once Off Guard by J.H. Wallis)
Cinematography … Milton Krasner
Music ... Arthur Lange
Production Company ... International Pictures
Distribution Company ... RKO Radio Pictures
Format … B&W
Running Time … 1hr 39m.

Academy Awards (1945)

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