CERT: PG / DIRECTOR: FRITZ LANG / SCREENPLAY: NUNALLY JOHNSON / STARRING: EDWARD G. ROBINSON, JOAN BENNETT, RAYMOND MASSEY / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Based upon J.H. Wallis’ novel Once off Guard, director Fritz Lang’s 1944 thriller The Woman in the Window is considered to be a cornerstone of the film noir genre. When academic Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson) meets the subject of a portrait he has become obsessed with, the alluring Alice Reed (Joan Bennett), Wanley is forced to kill her jealous boyfriend in self defence. Alice persuades him to help her dispose of the body and cover up the crime rather than inform the police. It’s not long before the corpse is discovered and the hunt for the murderer ensues. As Wanley and Alice try to stay one step ahead, they soon find themselves descending further into a nightmare with every twist and turn.
Robinson, best known for playing tough bad guys, gives a stunning performance as the family man whose life is turned upside down by what he thinks is a harmless flirtation. His performance becomes more intense as he slides deeper into the maelstrom. Bennett is also on fine form, in one of her four roles for Fritz Lang, providing a truly seductive performance. The chemistry between Robinson and Bennett is palpable, so it’s little surprise that Lang would want to work with them both again the following year in Scarlet Street.
Atmospheric and expressionist master Fritz Lang’s skills are brilliantly showcased with his use of shadows and low lights that became noir tropes. The pacing of the film is also perfect. Each scene takes just the right amount of time to unfold. Nothing is rushed, which builds the tension to almost unbearable levels.
Eureka’s 1080p presentation of The Woman in the Window is in its original 1.33.1 full frame aspect ratio and, as usual with Eureka!, the picture quality is stunning. The occasional scratch or other such picture noise is sometimes evident, but so clean is the picture that it’s hardly noticeable. LPCM audio (original mono presentation) is clear and sharp, allowing the score to really punch through and accentuate key scenes.
Other special features include the original theatrical trailer, a feature length audio commentary by film historian Imogen Sara Smith, author of In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond the City. In her commentary, Smith provides interesting information about the locations, cast and crew, and the film's score which is something often overlooked. There’s also an exclusive video essay by critic David Cairns with his musings about the film, Fritz Lang’s career and film noir. It makes a perfect companion piece to Smith’s commentary. As with many of Eureka’s presentations, there’s a collector’s booklet featuring new essays by film journalist and writer Amy Simmons and film writer Samm Deighan, alongside rare archival imagery.