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Woman in the Window, The

Kino // Unrated // June 19, 2018
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Ian Jane | posted June 22, 2018 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

Directed by Fritz Lang in 1944 and based on a novel by J.H. Wallis, The Woman In The Window introduces us to Gotham College professor Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson), a middle-aged man who hangs out with his friends, a District Attorney named Frank Lalor (Raymond Massey) and a psychiatrist named Dr. Michael Barkstane (Edmund Breon), at a club where he begins to obsess over a portrait of a beautiful woman that hangs near the window. And then, rather suddenly, he winds up meeting her while gazing at it.

They get to talking. Her name is Alice Reed (Joan Bennett) and before you know it, he's gone over to her place for a drink... after all, the wife and kids are out of town at the moment, and there's no harm in just flirting, right? And she's offered to show him some of the preliminary drawings that the artist did before her portrait was painted. This doesn't sit well with her boyfriend when he comes in unexpectedly and assumes that they've been carrying on behind his back. After the man slaps Alice, Richard steps in, a fight breaks out and he winds up killing the man in self-defense. Now at this point, Richard probably should call the cops, which is what he initially tries to do, but she talks him out of it, convincing him that they could both go to jail for this and that instead they should get rid of the body and cover up the crime.

They dump the body in the woods here it's found a few days later by some Boy Scouts. When the cops identify the body as being that of a high ranking financial officer named Claude Mazard (Arthur Loft) his employers put out a substantial reward for the capture of his killer. Through his connection with Lalor, Richard winds up meeting Inspector Jackson (Thomas E. Jackson), the man working the case, he's able to learn new details as they arise, including who the cops suspect, but then of course, things get twisty and turny and Richard winds up in more hot water than he ever expected.

A stylish and suspenseful picture, The Woman In The Window is top notch film noir that shows Lang firing on all cylinders. The first of the three pictures that the director would make with the gorgeous Joan Bennett, and it's easy to see why he'd want to work with her again after showcasing her in this inaugural feature. She's not only very attractive, but she's an excellent actress as well, bringing an intense screen presence to the picture. She's perfectly cast here. We understand why Richard would be drawn to her the way he is, which makes it easier to accept that she's able to talk him into things the way she is. Likewise, Robinson is really solid here as well. He plays his character well, and as he gets in deeper and deeper with this whole mess, his performance intensifies accordingly, and quite believably at that. They have great chemistry here, and you can see why Lang would work with the two of them again as the leads in his next picture, Scarlet Street, made just a year later.

The movie features nice cinematography from Milton R. Krasner and a notable score from Arthur Lange, both of which benefit the picture quite a bit. Lang paces the film nicely, never rushing but never dragging, giving us just enough information in just the right doses to keep us hanging on. The end results is a wonderfully made film ripe with suspense and intrigue.



The Woman In The Window is presented on a 25GB Blu-ray disc in its original 1.33.1 fullframe aspect ratio in an AVC encoded 1080p black and white presentation. Although some minor print damage shows up here and there, the good by far outweighs the bad by a pretty massive margin. Detail is generally very good and while there is some occasional contrast blooming, overall the quality of the black and white image is nice and strong. There are no issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement nor does there appear to have been an abundance of digital noise reduction applied here. This is nice and film-like, it feels very true to source and it's also quite clean, showing only occasional white specks rather than any substantial print damage.


The DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track, in English with optional English subtitles, is fine for the most part. Every once in a while you might note some slight sibilance but overall the dialogue is plenty easy to follow and the film's score sounds great. The optional subtitles are easy to read and free of typos.


Aside from a trailer for the feature, the only other extra on the disc is an audio commentary track from film historian Imogen Sara Smith, the author of In Lonely Places: Film Noir Beyond The City. Smith is quite good here, presenting a lot of information about how this picture compares to other noir entries, both those directed by Lang and otherwise, and does a nice job of putting the picture into context alongside some of his other films. Lots of talk here about the director's work but so too is there a lot of talk about the cast and crew, the score, the locations, the overall mood of the film, the cinematography and plenty more. This is quite a good listen.

Final Thoughts:

The Woman In The Window is an excellent film noir, a great thriller that features a strong cast at the top of their game working with one of the best directors to have ever stepped foot into the genre. Kino's Blu-ray looks and sounds quite good, offering a substantial leap forward over the old MGM DVD release, and it contains a really solid commentary track as its primary extra feature. Recommended!

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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