Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A walk down "Scarlet Street" with Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, and Dan Duryea

Scarlet Street (1945) is a film noir directed by Fritz Lang, produced by Walter Wanger, cinematography by Milton Krasner, and starring Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, and Dan Duryea.

With the critical and box office success of The Woman in the Window (1944), director Lang once again directed Robinson, Bennett, and Duryea in another film noir thinking lighting would strike twice and it did.
Joan Bennett in Scarlet Street

The plot revolves around Christopher “Chris” Cross (Robinson), a shy and reserved cashier for a retail store. In his spare time, he paints to help him forget his dull life and loveless marriage with Adele (Rosalind Ivan). Walking through Greenwich Village he witnesses Kitty March (Bennett) being roughed up by Johnny Prince (Duryea) and proceeds to knock Johnny out with his umbrella. Chris is enamored with Kitty and the two go out for drinks. While together, Chris is somewhat vague about his profession and his financial situation. Based on the way Chris talks about art, Kitty suspects he’s a rich and famous artist. When Kitty tells Johnny about her encounter, Johnny cooks up a plan to swindle Chris of his “fortune.”

Edward G. Robinson paints in his bathroom in Scarlet Street.

If The Woman in the Window was all a dream, Scarlet Street is a nightmare. Much darker than its predecessor but with similar ironic twists and turns to keep you guessing till the end.

Scarlet Street was a nominee for Best Feature Film at the 1946 Venice Film Festival.

Fritz Lang (1890 – 1976) was an Austrian-German-American director. Lang is the director of the silent film classic Metropolis (1927). After serving in World War I, Lang worked for a time as an actor in the theater and then worked as a writer at Decla Film in Berlin. Lang’s first talking picture was M (1931) a story about a child murderer. Due to his growing renown, Joseph Goebbels offered him the position of head of the German film studio UFA in 1933. Lang emigrated to Paris and then to the United States in 1936. Lang worked for all the major studios, making twenty-three feature films in the United States. Some of Lang’s films include Scarlet Street (1945), The Big Heat (1953), and While the City Sleeps (1956).

Milton R. Krasner (1904 – 1988) was an American cinematographer. He is best known for his work at 20th Century-Fox where he filmed such classics as All About Eve (1950) and The Seven Year Itch (1955). Other notable films he photographed include Scarlet Street (1945), The Dark Mirror (1946), The Egg and I (1947), The Farmer’s Daughter (1947), Bus Stop (1956), An Affair to Remember (1957), Bells Are Ringing (1960), Sweet Bird of Youth (1962), How the West Was Won (1962), Love with the Proper Stranger (1963), and The Singing Nun (1966). Krasner won an Academy Award for his work on Three Coins in the Fountain (1954).

Robinson and Bennett
Edward G. Robinson (1893 – 1973) was an American actor of the stage and screen. Robinson is a true star from Hollywood’s Golden Age where he starred in the gangster classic Little Caesar (1931), Kid Galahad (1937), Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939), The Sea Wolf (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), and Key Largo (1948). Robinson was awarded an Honorary Academy Award in 1973 but was never nominated for a competitive Oscar.

Joan Bennett (1910–1990) began her film career during the early sound era. A natural blonde, Bennett dyed her hair as a plot device in the film Trade Winds (1938). As a brunette, Bennett projected a sultry persona that had her compared to the brunette beauty, Hedy Lamarr. During this period she starred in two costume epics. She played Princess Maria Theresa in The Man in the Iron Mask (1939) and Grand Duchess Zona of Lichtenburg in The Son of Monte Cristo (1940). Bennett was one of two finalists for the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939), along with Paulette Goddard. She had a very successful collaboration with the director Fritz Lang. With Lang, she starred in the classics Man Hunt (1940), The Woman in the Window (1944), and Scarlet Street (1945). Bennett acted on stage and on television where she became a pop culture icon playing Elizabeth Collins Stoddard on the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows (1966-1971).

Dan Duryea (1907 – 1968) was an American film, stage, and television actor. He is best known for his character roles as villains, but he had a long career that included a variety of lead and second lead roles. Duryea graduated from Cornell University in 1928. In his senior year, he was the president of the college drama society. Duryea went to Hollywood in 1940 to Leo Hubbard in The Little Foxes, a role he created on Broadway. He established himself in films noir costarring in classics like Scarlet Street (1945), Criss Cross (1948), and Too Late for Tears (1949).

Below is the link to the movie on YouTube. Please use this link; there are several prints uploaded to the channel, but this one is the best one available.

Join us on Zoom for a discussion of this film on July 7, 2020, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time. Check below for meeting links.

Stephen Reginald is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Discussion of "Scarlet Street"
Time: Jul 7, 2020 06:30 PM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 740 7283 1028
Password: 9NLZi9

Questions for discussion:
1. Does Joan Bennett’s Kitty March have anything in common with Alice Reed from The Woman in the Window?
2. How similar is Edward G. Robinson’s Christopher Cross with his characterization of Richard Wanely?
3. What about Dan Duryea? Was his characterization similar to the one in The Woman in the Window?
4. What classic film noir elements, based on your understanding of the genre, did you notice?
5. Was the ending a surprise to you? Was it a satisfying ending?
6. Of the two films: The Woman in the Window and Scarlet Street, which one do you think is the better film?

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