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 and Nicholas Stix
David in TN: 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.
Woman in the Window has one of the surprise endings of all time. Some may like it, some may not.
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.
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, Elisabeth 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]).
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.
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.
Award-winning, New York-based freelancer Nicholas Stix founded A Different Drummer magazine (1989-93). Stix has written for Die Suedwest Presse, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Middle American News, Toogood Reports, Insight, Chronicles, the American Enterprise, Campus Reports, VDARE, the Weekly Standard, Front Page Magazine, Ideas on Liberty, National Review Online and the Illinois Leader. His column also appears at Men's News Daily, MichNews, Intellectual Conservative, Enter Stage Right and OpinioNet. Stix has studied at colleges and universities on two continents, and earned a couple of sheepskins, but he asks that the reader not hold that against him. His day jobs have included washing pots, building Daimler-Benzes on the assembly-line, tackling shoplifters and teaching college, but his favorite job was changing his son's diapers.