One of Fritz Lang's greatest films noir, SCARLET STREET stars Edward G. Robinson as a lonely bank clerk who becomes tangled in a complex web of embezzlement and murder when he succumbs to the temptations of spider woman Joan Bennett. Dan Duryea and Bennett play two of the most heartless and contemptible screen villains of the '40s, while Robinson is utterly convincing and heartbreaking as a kindly soul unfamiliar with a dark side he never knew he had. As often noted, SCARLET STREET was the first Hollywood feature in which the real murderer escapes punishment. If living in a private hell of poverty and endless torment can be considered escaping punishment, that is. A harrowing film that reflects Lang's mastery of German expressionism, in that the film itself, rather than the characters therein, attempts to answer the moral questions it raises. Some prefer THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (1944), an exploration of similar themes by Lang and the same leading actors, but SCARLET STREET more than holds its own among the classics of noir. - JL
SPOILERS FOR THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and SCARLET STREET
In both films:
Edward G. Robinson plays a middle-aged married man infatuated
with a young woman.
The young woman, played by Joan Bennett, is of questionable morals.
Dan Duryea plays a lowlife out for some quick cash through shady means.
Robinson's character commits a murder by stabbing the victim with a nearby household object..
Robinson's character provides money for the young woman.
An ornate pocket watch is prominently displayed at some point.
Robinson celebrates (drinks and cigars) with close colleagues near the beginning of the film.
There is a painting depicting Joan Bennett.
At some point, Robinson views the painting through a storefront window from the street.
Dan Duryea's character dies at the hands of the law.
Robinson attempts suicide.
Thomas E. Jackson plays a law enforcement officer.