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Scarlet Street (1945)

Scarlet Street movie poster.jpg

Fritz Lang reunited his three stars from The Woman in the Window for this darkly subversive noir, an adaptation of a French novel previously filmed by Jean Renoir, and subjected to extreme censorship (it was banned in New York state) probably due to its sordidly suggestive style more than anything explicit. Dudley Nichols adapted the book. Chris Cross (Edward G. Robinson) is the milquetoast cashier and part-time artist, Joan Bennett is Kitty the prostitute who marks him and Dan Duryea is Johnny her crook lover. Chris steals from his wife Adele and his employer to fund an apartment where Kitty can live and he can paint. Kitty and Johnny scheme to sell Chris’ work as hers and he lets them do it – until Adele recognises it in the window of a gallery and everything starts to unravel when her first husband, thought dead, turns up and tries to extort money that Chris doesn’t have because Kitty is keeping the profits from the art … Nasty shrewish women, put-upon men, crooks, whores and thieves, coalesce to form a social portrait of rare compromise and loneliness, desire and despair. Robinson – was he ever young?! – was not impressed with the script and is dull as the man whose life is riven by ambition and normalcy, pulled in so many different directions and bullied by the two women who dominate him. I’ve always found Bennett a little shrill. It’s not the prettiest noir, but it’s one of the more effective if only for the plumbing of the marital theme. The art works produced by John Decker were sent for exhibit at MoMA.

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

One response to “Scarlet Street (1945)

  1. I really loved this movie. Sorry it didn’t work for you. I thought Robinson was brilliant. I do understand your problem with Bennett. It’s a really wicked little film. Cheers!

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