Even without the cop-out ending, I find it hard to see Fritz Lang’s The Woman in The Window as other than a minor film noir. Although Freudian symbolism abounds and the noir theme of lives destroyed by chance events and small decisions is deftly handled, the movie is slow and ponderous – like the middle-aged law professor protagonist. Definitely one of Lang’s lesser works. Lang’s similarly-themed Scarlet Street (1945), made a year later with the same leads, is much stronger.
To give it credit the picture was popular with audiences and made money, but producer and screenwriter, Nunnally Johnson, was less than impressed, and it was received coolly by the critics.
In an interview in 1975, Lang justified the ending in these words:
This movie was not about evil… it was about psychology, the subconscious desires, and what better expression of those than in a dream, where the libido is released and emotions are exxagerated… [an] audience wouldn’t think a movie worthwhile in which a man kills two [sic] people and himself just because he had made a mistake by going home with a girl…
The irony of the second part of the quote will not be lost on film noir aficionados.