Monday, July 09, 2012

Peter Bogdanovich: Two By Fritz Lang

Two by Lang: 'The Woman in the Window' & 'While the City Sleeps'

Edward G. Robinson Joan Bennet in 'The Woman in the Window' (1944)
When Alfred Hitchcock made his first thrillers in the mid-1920s, he was often praised as “an English Fritz Lang,” Lang then being world famous for making nightmarish German crime pictures in the silent era, culminating with such 1930’s sound classics as M (about a child murderer) in Germany, and Fury (about a lynch mob) in the U.S., where he lived and worked from the mid-30s. When asked, Hitch always counted Fritz among his biggest influences, but film history being so fast-moving and fickle, from the mid-1940s onward, Lang was occasionally referred to as “the German Alfred Hitchcock.”

If you’re in the mood for a double-feature of American Lang suspense movies, both excellently representative of the kind of dark, ominous and scary work for which he was known to film buffs internationally, check out Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, and Dan Duryea in 1944’s THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (available on DVD) and George Sanders, Vincent Price, Ida Lupino, Rhonda Fleming, Dana Andrews, Thomas Mitchell, and John Barrymore, Jr. (Drew’s dad) in 1956’s WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS (also available on DVD).

Although many actors did not get along with Lang’s autocratic, often dictatorial methods—-Spencer Tracy (afterFury), for example, vowed never to work with him again—- but The Woman in the Window was the first of two pictures Edward G. Robinson did with the director and the second of four that starred Joan Bennett, who reportedly liked him very much.

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Dave Zeltserman said...

The Woman in the Window is a good movie, but pales in comparison with Scarlet Street, also starting Edgar G. Robinson, Joan Bennett and Duryea, as well as being directed by Fritz Lang.

Ed, Shadow of a Doubt starring Joseph Cotten and Theresa Wright is probably my favorite Hitchcock film. I was watching TCM last night to find that Cotten and Wright starred in a 1952 noirish crime film, The Steel Trap. Always fun when these pairings from great movies show up again.

Ed Gorman said...

I like so many Hitchcock films--love them in fact--but I agree that Shadow of A Doubt is his masterpiece. It is so rich in every aspect and has there ever been a more lovely and vulnerable heroine than Teresa Wright. My God you fall in love with her.