“The shopworn and superfluous ending has all the impact of a stale peppermint upon a man who has ordered a steak dinner.”
– Motion Picture Herald on the film’s release
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.
2 thoughts on “The Woman in the Window (1944): Over-rated”
Film Noir by Alain Silver
A general overview of film noir covering its most important themes with many rare stills. Among the films covered are: Double Indemnity, Kiss Me Deadly, Gun Crazy, Criss Cross, Detour, In A Lonely Place, T-Men, Out of the Past, The Reckless Moment, and Touch of Evil.
“In an interview in 1975, Lang justified the ending in these words:”
Tony “Antonio” D’Ambra,
I purchased the book “The Big Book of Noir” and guess
what? An extensive interview with Fritz Lang is in this book. Where he goes into great details about his films.And yes, he even discuss the end of the film
“The Woman in the Window.”
The Big Book of Noir… “Noir is big, so The Big Book of Noir jam-packs its pages
with articles, interviews, excerpts, opinion, and gossip that chronicle its
history and explore noir in all its forms: movies, detective stories, television.
and radio shows, comic books, and graphic novels.”
“…in which a man kills two [sic] people and himself….”
The “two” is correct in that (spoiler alert) he directly kills his mistress and frames the blackmailer for the murder. The police then shoot the blackmailer now wanted for murder.