In a way, Scarlet Street is a remake. It's taken from a French novel, La Chienne (literally, "The Bitch") that was first filmed by Jean Renoir in 1931. Renoir brought to the sordid tale all the color and vitality of Montm... more »artre; Fritz Lang's version shows us a far harsher and bleaker world. The film replays the triangle set-up from Lang's previous picture, The Woman in the Window, with the same three actors. Once again, Edward G. Robinson plays a respectable middle-aged citizen snared by the charms of Joan Bennett's streetwalker, with Dan Duryea as her low-life pimp. But this time around, all three characters have moved several notches down the ethical scale. Robinson, who in the earlier film played a college professor who kills by accident, here becomes a downtrodden clerk with a nagging, shrewish wife and unfilled ambitions as an artist, a man who murders in a jealous rage. Bennett is a mercenary vamp, none too bright, and Duryea brutal and heartless. The plot closes around the three of them like a steel trap. This is Lang at his most dispassionate. Scarlet Street is a tour de force of noir filmmaking, brilliant and ice-cold. When it was made the film hit censorship problems, since at the time it was unacceptable to show a murder going unpunished. Lang went out of his way to show the killer plunged into the mental hell of his own guilt, but for some authorities this still wasn't enough, and the film was banned in New York State for being "immoral, indecent and corrupt." Not that this did its box-office returns any harm at all. --Philip Kemp« less
Much Better Than The Other DVD Releases Of This Title!
Erik Rupp | Southern California | 10/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kino has promised a nice transfer of Fritz Lang's Scarlet Street (from an archived print - one not used by anyone else for a DVD release). That is excellent news for fans of Film Noir. This is a very good to excellent movie (depending on your tastes), and it deserves much better than the shoddy treatment it has received on virtually all the other DVD releases of this title to date. The cast is excellent, and features Edward G. Robinson, Dan Duryea, and Joan Bennett.
If you are considering buying Scarlet Street, then the Kino version is the only one to buy.
(Update: The image on the Kino DVD is amazingly sharp when compared to the other versions currently available, but there is one minor issue with the Kino release; there are some instances of "combing," (visible scan lines or "ghosting"), in the picture. To the untrained eye it isn't very noticeable, if at all. There is no question that this, even with the minor combing issue, is still BY FAR the best release of this title ever on DVD. If you are going to buy Scarlet Street, definitely buy the Kino version.)"
Chris Cross Will Make You Jump
Andrew McCaffrey | Satellite of Love, Maryland | 05/20/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Poor Edward G. Robinson. That is to say, poor Christopher Cross, the character Robinson plays in SCARLET STREET (presumably no relation to the 80's pop "star" of the same name, although that would explain a lot). Chris is trapped in a loveless marriage to a woman who looks like Edith Bunker and acts like Archie. He's a middle-aged bank-cashier who has gone through life having never truly been loved nor having loved anyone himself. The one enjoyable thing he has in his life is his art, his paintings - which his totalitarian wife has banished to the bathroom, as she hates the smell of his paints. So, when this poor, downtrodden, lonely man happens upon a young and beautiful woman, it's easy to see how he could be utterly manipulated by her.At first, I thought I was going to be bored by this film. It takes its time setting up the scenario and the various characters. But once the plot gets cooking, I was completely engrossed. I love a film that surprises me, and I simply could not guess where this story was going. As one nears the end, surprise revelations and unexpected bombshells come exploding out like fireworks. And every revelation was logical and consistent, but startling. I made several mental predictions, and after I started getting all of them wrong, I just sat back and let the film overtake me.Fritz Lang's direction makes this a darker film than even the screenplay probably anticipated. There are several scenes that are still unsettling today. The more experimental sequences near the end are quite haunting. It's certainly not a feel-good movie; the only characters that aren't out and out despicable are merely pathetic. I won't give away the ending, but it's enough to say that there is no "...and they all lived happily ever after". People get what they deserve, and in SCARLET STREET, they deserve a hell of a lot of it.The acting is quite good across the board, with a few notables. Edward G. Robinson is, of course, great. If that man ever gave a poor performance, then I have yet to see it. Here, he is playing against type -- an apron-wearing, totally dominated, shell of a man. He conveys a genuinely sad loneliness by his mere expressions as his confidence crumbles at every indignity and the way he desolately clings to any scrap of love he can find. You'd completely forget this was the man who played tough gangster Johnny Rocco in KEY LARGO. Dan Duryea is possibly laying it on a little thick as the sleazy, scheming boyfriend, but that sort of thing is what the role calls for. Joan Bennett rounds out the cast as Kitty March, the woman who lets Cross fall in love with her, and then takes him for as much cash as she can.The DVD released by Alpha Video has some flaws. However, since it is the only one on the market at the moment, we're stuck with it. The picture is decent, but not what I would call great. There are a numerous scratches and the image is a little fuzzy. On one or two occasions, the movie skips a few seconds ahead. The sound quality I would describe as adequate, but muffled. A few times, I had to rewind because I couldn't hear what the actors were saying. It's not a wholly awful disc, but I wouldn't get your hopes up as to its overall quality. Perhaps a better print of this film will show up on DVD; until then, we'll have this. And this is quite a cheap disc, so it does have that advantage."
It takes a Village.
Erik Rupp | 03/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Greenwich Village, that is, which we learn was home to "hop-heads" and "long-hairs" in 1945 (!) Fritz Lang's masterpiece tells the story of a middle-aged bank clerk (Edward G. Robinson, dependably brilliant) who escapes the dreariness of his job and his marriage to a harpy by spending his Sundays indulging his only hobby: painting. His life gets considerably more exciting when he runs across Joan Bennett, a con-artist and tramp who -- with the help of her pimp, the always-amusing Dan Duryea -- proceeds to slowly drain his financial wherewithal. Of course, the greatest irony is that Robinson has conned the con-artists: they think he's a wealthy artist because, in his attempt to impress Bennett, he neglected to mention that he's a just a lowly bank cashier. The movie shows us a dizzying amount of untruths, scams, cons, misperceptions . . . nothing is what it seems. Truth is relative, baby. While Lang has a lot of fun with all the illusions, he also dedicates himself to the principle that no good -- or bad -- deed goes unpunished, and that great noir principle, the inescapability from Fate, starts weighing more and more heavily on our characters as they perambulate through their sundry fictions and cons. -- For the sake of historical interest, it should be noted that *Scarlet Street* is an American remake of Jean Renoir's excellent *La Chienne*. (This story was based on a French novel; hence the concern with painting. Needless to say, the story migrated easily to Greenwich Village during the budding of the beatnik movement.) Renoir, in his film, spends a considerable amount of time building up the characterizations -- at the expense of the plot, to some degree. Lang, however, correctly understood that these characters are not as inherently interesting as the situation itself, with its myriad variations on the theme of Reality and (or versus) Illusion. As a result, Lang's movie is rather more suspenseful than Renoir's. Also of note: *Scarlet Street* is a follow-up of sorts to Lang's previous movie, *The Woman in the Window*, which featured the same cast (Robinson, Bennett, and Duryea)! It's a masterpiece, too. [A special word of congratulations must go to "Alpha Video": Congratulations on crafting the ugliest-looking and poorest-sounding DVD I have ever seen or heard. It's a great thing, when masterpieces in the Public Domain can be snatched up by any unscrupulous producer. Simply burn an old magnetic-tape version onto a digital disc, press a few thousand copies, and voila! -- Instant profit. Bravo!]"
Suspenseful noir damaged by poor transfer.
D. Roth | Pleasant Hill, Ca | 11/27/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This compels attention more for its meticulous staging and pacing than for the actual power of the story. Robinson's final delusionary moments are fantastically vivid, but- Be very careful of this and other 'Timeless Video' releases. The copy is intrusively grainy, so much of Lang's lighting is lost. In one scene, the sound drops out for about two minutes! The issue of' Detour' is also very poor, but there are alternative editions. 'Kansas City Confidential', however, is fine. Consider alternative issues of other films in this series."
"How can a man be so dumb... I've been waiting to laugh in y
Dave | Tennessee United States | 11/29/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Christopher Cross (Edward G. Robinson) is an unhappily married, middle-aged man who leads a boring and lonely life as a cashier. His only passion in life is painting. When he meets the lovely Kitty March (Joan Bennett) one night, he immediately falls for her. Thinking that Chris is a famous and wealthy artist, Kitty leads him on while coming up with a dirty scheme with her lover Johnny Prince (Dan Duryea). Johnny gets Kitty to get as much money as possible from Chris, who is totally unaware of Kitty's cold-hearted motives. Chris gladly pays for Kitty's lavish apartment where he can paint her portrait.
Chris steals money from his boss' company in order to buy Kitty whatever she wants, and he's happy like never before in his life. Even when he discovers that Kitty has been selling his paintings and keeping the money, Kitty's charm wins him over and he forgives her easily. When the first husband of Chris' wife, thought to be dead, shows up alive, Chris eagerly makes plans to marry Kitty. But when he goes to see her he finds her in the arms of Johnny, and realizing finally that he'd been cruelly misled and used, he loses control of his temper. To reveal anymore would spoil the ending.
Filmed shortly after the successful "Woman in the Window," which featured the same three stars (Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, and Dan Duryea) and was also directed by Fritz Lang, 1945's "Scarlet Street" had a much darker conclusion. Like "Woman in the Window," Edward G. Robinson was once again seduced and victimized by femme fatale Joan Bennett, only this time the nightmare was real. "Scarlet Street" is a haunting and incredibly bleak film noir and is unquestionably one of Fritz Lang's best movies. I've seen three previous versions of this classic on dvd, and everyone had an awful picture and sound quality. Now at last, Lang's masterpiece can be seen like never before, with an excellent restored print used for the Kino release. This dvd is a definite must for any fan of film noir!"