Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) and The Woman in the Window (1944)

I was hungry for some film noir last week, so I watched two new-two-me, Where the Sidewalk Ends and The Woman in the Window. I will keep these descriptions brief, and avoid details as I think the surprise element is important in films like these. I recommend both.

In Where the Sidewalk Ends, Detective Mark Dixon (Dana Andrews) wants so much to escape his criminal father's legacy, he goes to elaborate measures to cover up the accidental death of a murder suspect, to which he plays a part. This cover-up leads to more flawed suspects and investigations, along with Dixon's burgeoning relationship with the deceased suspect's wife, played by Gene Tierney. External and internal struggles abound as Dixon decides how to handle his mistake.

Otto Preminger directed Where the Sidewalk Ends, and after seeing several of his films, this one also kept me interested. His works I previously viewed, Laura, Bunny Lake is Missing, Angel Face, and River of No Return, contained suspense and complex characters. Dixon and his plight certainly parallel these. Juxtaposed with Andrews and Tierney's chemistry, it all became poetry disguised as a cop movie to me. Of course, I also liked Andrews and Tierney together in Laura, so I am not surprised they deliver another top-notch film together.

I then watched The Woman in the Window, and surprisingly loved the similarities between the two films. A man and woman (Edward G. Robinson and Joan Bennett) brought together by an accidental murder, and subsequent cover-up, also dominates this one. Robinson plays Richard Wanley, a professor whose family leaves on vacation. While downtown with some drinking buddies, he spots an intriguing-to-him portrait of a woman displayed in a window. After a few drinks, he meets the woman, Alice Reed (Bennett), she invites him to her apartment, and a brawl between Richard and the woman's lover ensues when the lover sees Richard there. In self-defense, Richard stabs the lover, and kills him. Panicked, Richard and Alice dispose the body, and try cover their tracks as the investigation ensues.

Fritz Lang, who directed the exquisite films M and Metropolis succeeds again in my view. While The Woman in the Window is much more fast-paced than M, it is still smartly played out, with an unexpected twist at the end. Also, I love the film's details. Richard's first sighting of Alice as a reflection in the window beside her portrait seemed original, and a little eerie to me.

Like any classic film lover, this genre intrigues me, but I do not often view movies like this back-to-back. It was a fun experience. Do you like film noir? Which ones are your favorite?


Shybiker said...

Great reviews; thanks for the leads.

I enjoy film noir. My favorite is "Double Indemnity" with Fred MacMurray playing a character you don't expect him to inhabit.

She is Sara said...

Oh I have not seen either of these but they look really good! I think I would like the Woman in the window because of the suspense. I had a really big Hitchcock phase for awhile.

Artman2112 said...

i'm a HUGE film noir fan but have yet to see Where the Sidewalk Ends. Woman in the Window and its companion film Scarlet Street (same main cast and director) are superlative examples of the genre imo, def check out Scarlet street if you can! hmmm, some faves of mine are Force of Evil, Body and Soul, Out of the Past, Champion, Pursued, the Dark Corner, Crossfire, On Dangerous Ground, Pickup on South street (aaaaaaawesome film!), the Killers, Phantom Lady, The Asphalt Jungle, The Killing, Murder My Sweet, Double indemnity, the Big Sleep, The Set-up, Gilda, Born to Kill, the Big Heat (Fritz Lang), They Wont Believe me, Kiss me Deadly, those are off the top of my head, lol, i'm sure i'm forgetting some at the moment. but any of the titles i just listed would fall under great film noir and simply great films to me!

Anonymous said...

Saw The Woman in the Window, followed by Scarlet Street last night on TCM. Really liked the first film, but not the second one as much. I think Scarlet St. didn't paled a little bit when compared to the first film. You've gotta love Dan Duryea as the con man! Found out that he died at the early age of 61.