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Scarlet Street

Language:

English   Country: USA   Year: 1945

Scarlet Street
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Director:

Fritz Lang

Starring:

Edward G. Robinson; Joan Bennett; Dan Duryea

Genres:

DramaFilm NoirThriller

Synopsis:

A mild-mannered, middle-aged bank cashier, who is married to a shrew, falls for a sexy young woman without realizing she's actually a prostitute. She and her scheming pimp/boyfriend then conspire to bilk him of his money. Plot turns and twists inevitably lead to murder and mayhem. Black & White.

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User Reviews

 

(Average=3.38 out of 5; Total Number=16)


"They'll Be Masterpieces." (rating=5)

In "Scarlet Street" mild-mannered bank cashier Chris Cross (Edward G Robinson) dreams of being a great painter one day. His nagging wife ridicules his hobby and constantly humiliates him. Then one day Chris meets a young woman named Kitty (Joan Bennett). He thinks she's being mugged, but she's really a 'working girl' squabbling with her slimy boyfriend, Johnny (Dan Duryea). Chris and Kitty strike up a conversation, and soon Kitty and Johnny are ready to use Chris for whatever money they can get out of him.

Chris seems to be just too nice for his own good. He's a reliable, largely underappreciated employee who plugs away daily at his desk. But painting is one thing he's passionate about, and it saves him from the sheer boredom of mediocrity. He's a rather unhappy character--first his impossible wife is kicking him around, and it doesn't take long for Kitty to sink her materialistic little hooks into Chris too. As events take place within the film, the strength and weaknesses of Chris Cross are explored. Will he exploit opportunities or is he destined to always be a slave to his character flaws? Many marvelous little touches raise this film above the average and make it memorable. I'd never heard of this film until recently when I came across the title in a book about film noir. As a fan of director, Fritz Lang's films, I sought out this film. The plot is extremely clever--full of unpredictable twists and turns. Kitty deceives Chris, but he is guilty of his own sort of deception.

The DVD quality is not great, but I am not downgrading the film for that. The DVD is produced by Alpha video at a very reasonable price. The film is not re-mastered at all, and there are no extra features. At some points during the film, a thin vertical line was visible, and the sound quality varied (seems to get louder), plus there were some crackles. The black and white picture is grainy at times. All of these defects, however, did not interfere with my ability to watch and enjoy the film. It's about the same quality as a television version of the film. If you enjoyed "Woman in the Window" (a much more famous Fritz Lang/Edgar G Robinson/Joan Bennett film) you should enjoy this one too--displacedhuman

IRONIC FILM NOIR (rating=4)

Fritz Lang directed this American version of Renoir's LA CHIENNE; in the American setting it's a sordid, lowlife melodrama about illicit love, and it never takes root - it's one of Lang's best American movies. This film was originally banned in New York State - that is, denied a license - as "immoral, indecent, corrupt, and tending to incite crime" - a judgement which seemed off the wall even in 1946! Eddie Robinson is a frustrated, grey - haired cashier married to a nag (Rosalind Ivan); his only pleasure is in painting on Sundays. He falls for a tart (Joan Bennett) and sets her up in a Greenwich Village apartment, on stolen money. Bennett happens to be in love with a low-life lout (Dan Duryea), who beats her...........The script, by Dudley Nichols, is rather heavy-handed, and Lang's emphatic style pounds home the ironies and the murder-plot devices. Robinson's paintings were actually done by John Decker. There is a unique twist in this lurid little thriller; it was the first film to show the culprit unpunished for his crime (although he shows remorse).

A Worthy Fritz Lang Film All Round (rating=4)

This review refers to the Alpha Video (Gotham) DVD.

Overall Quality of DVD: *** /**** Sound: ** /**** Plot: ***1/2 /**** Acting: ***1/2 /**** Cinematography: ***1/2 /**** Direction: ***1/2 /****

The first time I watched this film the whole effect did not set in until a few days later and it began tugging at me in the back of my mind (as do a lot of Fritz Lang films, at least, for me). There is much more to this film than a simple "film noir" although it is noir indeed.

You start to sympathize with Christopher Cross (Edward G. Robinson) because he is a true artist - he thinks of the world philosophically and poetically (as many artist do). To create art you must almost make yourself oblivious to the everyday machinations of the world, almost to the point of innocence, and Edward G. Robinson's character portrays the artist in this exact manner.

All he wants to do is paint but all his life he has been told what a failure he is and so he is nearly ashamed of his art and hides it from people but like any true artist he can not stop his love of art and so he hides in the bathroom like a prisoner to paint in solitude.

I love the scene where he finally shows one of his paintings of a flower that Joan Bennett gave him to an acquaintance who looks at the painting in total surprise and asks "Where did you find a flower such as this?" and Edward G. Robinson points to the flower in the glass sitting upon the bathroom sink and the acquaintance looks at him dumbfounded, points to the painting and asks "THIS? is what you see when you look at that?" - Edward G. Robinson nods and gives him a look that seems to say "You mean, you don't see it this way?" - it's a PERFECT scene expressing the inner feelings of an artist (any kind of artist).

Joan Bennett plays the scheming femme-fatale to perfection and you hate her guts. Dan Duryea also encourages Joan Bennett's character well as a two-bit thief who really needs, and deserves, to have his head kicked in.

Whoever did the actual paintings for this film did a great job as they are very surrealistic, modern-art and quite representative of Christopher Cross's psychic innerself.

If you're expecting the quality of a Criterion Collection DVD you will be disappointed, but if you have patience you will enjoy this top-notch film by a great director.


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