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Scarlet Street

   

Scarlet Street (1945) starring Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea – classic film noir directed by Fritz Lang

Cast

  • Edward G. Robinson (House of Strangers) … Christopher Cross. The unhappy, henpecked husband, and protagonist. He’s been working as a bank teller for 25 years …. But he dreams of being an artist.
  • Joan Bennett (House of Dark Shadows) … Katharine ‘Kitty’ March. An attractive young woman, in love with the wrong kind of man. She goes along with the scheme to defraud Chris …. Because they wrongly think he’s a rich artist.
  • Dan Duryea (The Woman in the Window) … Johnny Prince. Kitty’s unlikable, abusive boyfriend. That Kitty’s helplessly in love with, no matter how much money he takes. He talks her deeper and deeper into defrauding Chris.
  • Margaret Lindsay … Millie Ray. Kitty’s friend, former roommate, and voice of reason. That Kitty, unfortunately, doesn’t listen to.
  • Rosalind Ivan … Adele Cross. The shrewish, nasty wife of Chris. She has money in bonds, left from her first husband. Somewhere …
  • Jess Barker … Damon Janeway. The art critic that Johnny (and Kitty) fool into thinking that Kitty is the artist responsible …. For Chris’ work.
  • Charles Kemper … Homer Higgins
  • Anita Sharp-Bolster … Mrs. Michaels
  • Samuel S. Hinds (The Raven 1935) … Charles Pringle
  • Vladimir Sokoloff (Conquest) … Pop LeJon
  • Arthur Loft (Blondie Knows Best) … Dellarowe
  • Russell Hicks (The Big Broadcast of 1938) … J.J. Hogarth, manager of the bank where Chris works.

Editorial review of Scarlet Street (1945) starring Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea courtesy of Amazon.com

Joan Bennett in Scarlet Street

Kino Video’s remastered edition of Scarlet Street finally does justice to one of the best film noir classics of the 1940s. Less than a year after scoring a critical and popular success with The Woman in the Window, director Fritz Lang reunited with stars Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, and Dan Duryea for this fatalistic New York City tale of a meek, middle-aged cashier and aspiring artist named Christopher Cross (Robinson) who unwittingly falls into a trap set by a pair of Greenwich Village con artists (Bennett, Duryea) who plot to sell his paintings and make off with the profits.

In addition to Lang’s masterful use of studio backlot locations and cinematographer Milton Krasner’s exquisite control of light and shadow, the film draws its primary strength from the atypical performance by Robinson (typically so good at playing heavies, and a knowledgeable art collector off-screen) as a hen-pecked husband and self-professed failure whose withered ego makes him especially vulnerable to the false charms of Bennett, a femme fatale as heartless as she is ultimately doomed.

Scandalous

Joan Bennett and Edgar G. Robinson in Scarlet Street

Her scandalous behavior on screen and off (Bennett was the wife of producer Walter Wanger and Lang’s mistress) and Duryea’s pimpish amorality made Scarlet Street both immensely popular and scandalous enough to be banned in three states when the film was released in late 1945, but in Lang’s dark vision of corrupted souls and avenging angels, nobody goes unpunished.

The ending of Scarlet Street is as unforgiving as it is unforgettable, and in the hands of Fritz Lang, it’s the purest essence of film noir at its finest. Kino’s DVD release offers a high-definition digital transfer from a 35-millimeter negative preserved by the Library of Congress (in other words, it puts every previous video release to shame), and there’s an astute, scholarly commentary by Lang expert David Kalat that puts Scarlet Street into critical perspective with Lang’s career and film noir in general. For fans of the genre, this is a must-own DVD. — €“Jeff Shannon

Trivia

  • Since Scarlet Street has had its’ copyright expire, it’s available to watch freely via the Internet Archive
  • One of Fritz Lang‘s personal favorites of his own films.
  • Robinson’s character talks loving about art and says he wishes he owned a Cezanne. In real life, Robinson was a great collector of fine art and was considered an expert. 

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