Sunday, November 17, 2013

NOIRVEMBER: SCARLET STREET

SCARLET STREET (1945)   Dir. Fritz Lang

Starring Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea

"Scarlet Street" is exactly the sort of Fritz Lang movie that made me doubt "The Big Heat" would hold up. Still I was curious to revisit it. I'm a sucker for movies that feature artists and the art world of the past, no matter how unrealistic the treatment.

The big problem here is the script. Robinson plays a nebbish clerk with a shrewish wife who becomes involved with a woman of uncertain repute in Greenwich Village. He lets her believe he's a successful painter and she schemes to use him for his money. There's nothing wrong with this on the surface but that's the problem, the movie is all surface. All the characters are one dimensional, exactly what they seem to be. There isn't even any gray area in Robinson deceiving his wife. She's so unrepentantly awful, you can't  really blame him. The script is just too easy.

All these actors are great but the script and direction give them no latitude for subtlety. There are certainly amusing bits but I can't help but think about better performances they've given in better movies.

A film rises or falls depending on the material and in this case...well I think you get the idea.


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