I’m catching up on that unique looking fella Mr Edward G Robinson. This review is for Scarlet Street (1945)
What’s going down?
Sing it Angela Lansbury “A tale as old as time….” Yep it’s the old classic. Man hits midlife. Old hag wife nags and belittles. Man wants quiet life fiddling with his hobbies. Young “helpless” pretty girl walks on by fluttering her eyelashes. Man goes crazy.
Where’s it set?
Set within the Manhattan neighborhood of Greenwich Village in New York City. (Filmed in LA!). We flip between rainy damp dark streets, apartment blocks, dingy dimly lit bars, oh and a toilet!
The main players
Edward G. Robinson – Christopher Cross
Joan Bennett – Katherine ‘Kitty’ March
Dan Duryea – Johnny Prince
Margaret Lindsay – Millie Ray
Rosalind Ivan – Adele Cross
Sure I’ve seen them in something?
Edward G Robinson had a truly fantastic career, especially for a guy with those looks. Did he get a little type cast as the crazy cigar chomping gangster or powder-keg cop? I haven’t seen enough of his films to say. But if so, it’s good to see him in Scarlet Street with a certain vulnerability to him. The man just wants a quiet life with his paints and pencils and naively, the love of younger woman.
I’m quite the novice on Mr Robinson’s films. So please feel free to recommend away in the comments below. I’ve seen Double Indemnity (1944) and the Orson Welles thriller The Stranger (1946) but it’s his final film, Soylent Green (1973) with Charlton Heston that stays with me. It features the most beautiful scene of them eating a “gourmet” meal together. Such a wonderful, bittersweet moment that you will never forget.
I haven’t seen many Joan Bennett films either. However I did recently catch the excellent Man Hunt (1941) with Walter Pidgeon. Looking at her filmography she went crazy though the 20s and 30s. A real movie machine. Funny to read her trademark as “Often played untrustworthy but sexy femme fatales” She was certainly very sexy. Recommend away please.
Dan Duryea face oozes slime. The few films I’ve seen him in he just has a horrible nature to him. I hope he managed a few pictures whilst being the nice guy? I have a few of his movies lined up to see soon. Too Late For Tears (1949) and Black Angel (1946). Weird coincidence. Edward G Robinson is called Chris Cross in this film and Dan Duryea played slimy gangster Slim Dundee in Criss Cross with Burt Lancaster.
All three actors can be found in The Woman in the Window (1944) which I see is on Netflix at time of writing. Will watch soon.
Notes on production?
Scarlet Street is directed by one of the kings of film noir, Fritz Lang. With the incredible The Big Heat (1953), Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) and the truly bonkers Fury (1936) with Spencer Tracy all being excellent films. There’s also one of my personal favorites, the mystery thriller Ministry Of Fear (1944). Fritz Lang is also the man who brought on to the world the classic sci-fi film Metropolis (1927) and the deep WW2 drama Hangmen Also Die! (1943). He has such an unbelievable consistently brilliant catalogue of films and so many more for me to see.
Scarlet Street is in fact a remake of a 1931 French film called La Chienne. Which itself is an adaptation of a novel by Georges de La Fouchardière and a play by André Mouëzy-Éon. The title La Chienne translates to “The Bitch!” Joan Collins would be proud.
Twelve original paintings were made for the aspiring artist Christopher Cross’s character. All painted by artist and set designer John Decker. I read that they were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art gallery. The one of “Kitty” is wonderful.
Hits like a sledge hammer
The devious conniving duo are just so despicable. They really are a toxic twosome.
It’s not really implied other than “lady of the night” but I’m gathering Kitty is a prostitute and Johnny her pimp. He likes to slap her around and she kinda likes it!
All I’ll say is the end hits like the aforementioned sledge hammer!
It’s safe to say this story hits the criteria of pure film noir. With it’s bleak psychological theme and just for good measure there’s enough slaps around the face to make you go woah! “That’s the only thing you understand!” SLAP!”
“Next thing you’ll be painting women without clothes.”
“If he were mean or vicious or if he’d bawl me out or something, I’d like him better.”
“How can a man be so dumb”
“I’ve been waiting to laugh in your face ever since I met you”
“You’re old and ugly and I’m sick of you… sick, sick, sick!”
“LOVE? He’s making a tramp out of you!”
Wow! Random Factoid I Just Learnt!
Edward G Robinson screen-tested for Doctor Zaius for Planet Of The Apes in 1966. Check out this amazing early footage with him dress as the orangutan with Charlton Heston in this youtube video studio pitch makeup test. More info can be found here on Fandom.
Like I say in the title it really should be called Doofus Street. You do feel for Christopher Cross and his innocent nature but at the same time you just want to say something cheesy at him like “wake up and smell the coffee you numbskull“. One thing for sure, it’s extremely hard to suppress the feeling that you just wanna punch Dan Duryea’s character’s face in. What with his snidey face and that ridiculous barbers shop hat. All in all this is a superior thriller that slaps in all the right places. With a backhander across the chops here, a wallop around the kisser there. In the end it’s a haymaking sucker-punch. Top film.
“Hey Lazy Legs and Funny Face”
Wolfman’s rating 8.5/10 IMDB 7.8/10
If you fancy it Scarlet Street is on Youtube to stream as it fell into public domain.
Feel free to recommend me related movies and any other trivia if you wish. Keep having fun at the movies…. Mikey Wolf
PS fancy another take on this film? Check fellow movie blogger Gary’s Scarlet Street take. (We both did a Joanie bit 🙂 )