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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Edward G. Robinson,
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Barbara Bel Geddes,
Chris Cross, 25 years a cashier, has a gold watch and little else. That rainy night, he rescues delectable Kitty from her abusive boyfriend Johnny. Smitten, amateur painter Chris lets Kitty think he's a wealthy artist. At Johnny's urging, she lets Chris establish her in an apartment (with his shrewish wife's money). There, Chris paints masterpieces; but Johnny sells them under Kitty's name, with disastrous and ironic results. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
When Adele first questions Chris about Katherine March, the position of the knife he is holding drastically changes between shots. See more »
For he's a jolly good fellow. For he's a jolly good fellow. For he's a jolly good fellow... which nobody can deny. Which nobody can deny. Which nobody can deny. Which nobody can deny.
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Fritz Lang does a wonderful job directing "Scarlet Street," a true film noir from 1945 starring Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea. A miserable, henpecked man, Chris (Robinson) falls in love with a prostitute, Kitty, and she starts milking him for money with the encouragement of her abusive boyfriend Johnny (Duryea). Chris is a cashier who has just reached his 25th year of service; he's also a part-time painter. He steals bonds from his wife, who is the widow of a police detective, and sets Kitty up in an apartment where he can also paint since all his wife does is complain about him cluttering up their place. He believes that Kitty is an actress and that Johnny is the boyfriend of Kitty's ex-roommate. You really want to slap him. His stealing escalates; meanwhile, Johnny and Kitty are passing his art work off as Kitty's, and she's making a name for herself. Instead of killing her then and there, Chris is happy about it, believing that he's a failure and could never have sold a painting, and continues providing her with art work. We assume she and Johnny are getting the money.
Alas, there probably are desperately lonely and unhappy men like Chris with footprints all over their bodies, though Chris seems pretty gullible even by 1945 standards. Robinson, however, does a fantastic job in helping us understand why Chris is the way he is. He's a simple, shy, self-effacing man who just wants someone to love him and enjoy his hobby of painting, and Kitty pays lip service to that while she's sleeping with Johnny. It seems that just to bask in her presence is enough for Chris.
Using the backdrop of New York City, Lang has directed this with magnificent style and flair, making it one of the most famous noirs of all time. And the performances are top notch. It's amazing how much Joan and Constance Bennett looked alike when they were both blond, but they were very different actresses. Constance had a great deal of sophistication; Joan did better playing tramps. She had a low voice and could be very sexy, and she made a stunning brunette. I saw her in person in the late '80s and was surprised at how tiny she was given how tall she looks here. If anyone has seen the "Gone with the Wind" screen tests, she was one of the most beautiful Scarletts. Here she's very convincing talking out of both sides of her mouth, telling Chris that she loves him and Johnny that she loves him. Duryea is phenomenal as a very unlikable con man, and the two make a great couple.
But the character of sad Chris hangs over the film due to Robinson's performance with his shy smile and nervous manner. When his anger emerges, it's years and years worth of it. Unfortunately, he's basically too good a man not to hate himself for actions committed in a rage, and in true Hollywood fashion, he goes the way of most men who let themselves be made fools of by women.
A really, really great film. Lang was difficult to get along with, and as the studio system diminished, the powers that be were less willing to put up with him, so his last Hollywood films can't compare with those he did at the top. This is top Lang. Don't miss it.
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