A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
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>
According to Ben Mankiewicz on TCM, when first released, local censor boards in New York, Milwalkee and Atlanta banned this film entirely, for being "licentious, profane, obscure, and contrary to the good order of the community". See more »
The story takes place in 1934, but all of Margaret Lindsay's and Joan Bennett's clothes, shoes and hairstyles are strictly in the 1945 mode, which had considerably changed during the intervening eleven years. The featured taxicab is of late 1930s vintage, about three years too new. 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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Late Expressionism, Early Noir--incredible plot, amazing movie
Scarlet Street (1945)
It starts slowly, with little bits of intrigue and a lot of empathy for Edward G. Robinson's character, Chris Cross, a lonely cashier with dreams of being in love. And then he sees a man hitting a young woman on the street, and he rushes to help her. Things start a torturous, complicated, fabulous decline from there. The woman sees how Cross finds her beautiful, but Cross, it turns out, is unhappily married. And petty, selfish cruelty turns to many worse things.
Fritz Lang, the Austrian director now firmly settled into Hollywood, is not known for cheerful movies (he directed M, for one), and this one draws on so much empathy, and heartbreak, and finally downright shock and surprise, it's breathtaking. Great film-making, beautiful and relentless. The woman, Joan Bennett, comes alive on the screen, duplicitous and raw. Her boyfriend, Dan Duryea, is perfect Duryea, clever and annoying and as usual, coming out less than rosy.
The cinematographer, Milton Krasner, has so many richly brooding and dramatic films to his credit, it's almost a given that we will be invisibly swept into every scene (and much of the action takes place in an apartment almost tailor made for great filming, with glass doors, and two levels to look up or down from). The story is key, based on a novel by Georges de La Fouchardière, little known here, but he wrote "La Chienne," the basis for Jean Renoir's second film (1931), where the film announces to the audience that it is about, "He, she, and the other guy . . . as usual." And that describes Scarlet Street just as well, for starters.
Lang is credited as one of the key shapers of the film noir style, and that certainly applies visually. It lacks that film noir key of a young man at odds with post-War America, but it does have a man, alone, at odds with the world. Chris Cross is a pathetic creature, far more naive than most of us could ever be, but yet we identify with him because he represents innocence swept up in a world more sinister than we expect. He's a victim, in a way, but also the cause of his own troubles.
And troubles they are. What a story, what a film. Dark, wrenching, and unpredictable. Very Fritz Lang.
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