7.7/10
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106 user 80 critic

The Woman in the Window (1944)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 3 November 1944 (USA)
A conservative middle aged professor engages in a relationship with a femme fatale, he's plunged into a nightmarish world of blackmail and murder.

Director:

Fritz Lang

Writers:

Nunnally Johnson (written for the screen by), J.H. Wallis (novel) (as J. H. Wallis)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Edward G. Robinson ... Prof. Richard Wanley
Joan Bennett ... Alice Reed
Raymond Massey ... District Attorney Frank Lalor
Edmund Breon ... Dr. Michael Barkstane
Dan Duryea ... Heidt / Tim
Thomas E. Jackson ... Inspector Jackson
Dorothy Peterson ... Mrs. Wanley
Arthur Loft ... Claude Mazard / Charlie
Frank Dawson ... Collins
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Storyline

Gotham College professor Wanley and his friends become obsessed with the portrait of a woman in the window next to the men's club. Wanley happens to meet the woman while admiring her portrait, and ends up in her apartment for talk and a bit of champagne. Her boyfriend bursts in and misinterprets Wanley's presence, whereupon a scuffle ensues and the boyfriend gets killed. In order to protect his reputation, the professor agrees to dump the body and help cover up the killing, but becomes increasingly suspect as the police uncover more and more clues and a blackmailer begins leaning on the woman. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A too-beautiful woman, a too-carefree man--and an evening of gay flirtation shifting madly into a panic of guilt and fear and crimson MURDER... THAT'S EXCITEMENT FOR YOU! See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The last film role for George 'Spanky' McFarland for 42 years until The Aurora Encounter (1986), which would be his final one. See more »

Goofs

When Wanley is hurrying back into the apartment through the rain, his hat and coat are clearly soaked. In the next shot, when he is inside, his clothes are considerably less rain-soaked than before. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Richard Wanley: [lecturing] The Biblical injunction "Thou shalt not kill" is one that requires qualification in view of our broader knowledge of impulses behind homicide. The various legal categories such as first and second degree murder, the various degrees of homicide, manslaughter, are civilized recognitions of impulses of various degrees of culpability. The man who kills in self defense, for instance, must not be judged by the same standards applied to the man who kills for gain.
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Alternate Versions

Also shown in a color-computerized version. See more »

Connections

Version of Robert Montgomery Presents: Woman in the Window (1955) See more »

User Reviews

 
Excellent noir from the master Fritz Lang
2 February 2006 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

There's no doubting that Fritz Lang made his best films in his native Germany - the masterpieces 'M' and 'Metropolis' ensure that without the need to mention the likes of Doctor Mabuse; but even so, his American films have some gems - and this quality film noir thriller is certainly one of them. Made with the same cast as Fritz Lang's later 'Scarlet Street', The Woman in the Window is a tale of lust and money, wrapped up in the idea of how life becomes less exciting as you approach middle age. Professor Richard Wanley is a middle-aged man bored with how life is treating him. This boredom is soon to dissipate, however, when he and his friends become obsessed with the portrait of a woman in a shop window. On his way home one night, Richard meets this woman purely by chance and ends up going back to her apartment to look at more artist impressions of her. This ends in tragedy, when her boyfriend comes knocking, and ends up discovering our hero in his girl's apartment! A struggle ensues and the boyfriend ends up dead...Richard agrees to hide the body in order to keep the pair of them from spending time behind bars.

Many of the ideas later used in Scarlet Street are present here too, and in that respect; The Woman in the Window serves as an interesting prelude to the later film. The film analyses a murder from the moral point of view, rather than being purely for profit. This idea was better realised by Lang later the same year in the aforementioned noir classic, but through it's inspired plotting and unpredictable atmosphere; The Woman in the Window analyses the same idea in a slightly different way. The cast is put to good use, with the great Edward G. Robinson doing a fine job with the lead role. He portrays his character admirably, and the scenes where the finger of suspicion drifts over him sees Robinson at his best. Joan Bennett plays his female counterpart. This beautiful woman is great as the heroine, and it's her performance that gives the film that golden Hollywood feel. The ending is one that could easily have gone wrong, but Lang makes good of it, and it actually makes sense of little nuisances, such as the fact that Robinson is allowed to accompany his policeman friend to a murder scene early on in the film. I would rate Scarlet Street as the must see film of the pair; but if you enjoyed that one, there's no reason why this one shouldn't go down well also.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 November 1944 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Once Off Guard See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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