The Video Vacuum (thevideovacuum) wrote,
The Video Vacuum

SCARLET STREET (1945) ** ½

Edward G. Robinson stars as a lowly cashier who just received his gold watch for 25 years of service. On his way home, he sees a woman in distress (Joan Bennett) and saves her from being hassled from a guy (Dan Duryea) in the street. He takes her out for a drink and instantly falls head over heels for her. Robinson doesn’t realize that she’s a crooked prostitute and the man he saw her struggling with is actually her pimp. They see Ed G. as an easy mark and shake him down for money, using Bennett’s ample charms. Robinson doesn’t have a nickel to his name and has to resort to stealing to provide for her.

Directed by Fritz Lang, Scarlet Street (a remake of Jean Renoir’s La Chienne) takes its time building up Robinson’s sad sack character. Lang really puts him through the ringer. Stuck in an unfulfilling job and constantly harassed by his overbearing wife, the audience really emphasizes with him. His performance is easily the best thing about the film and it shines whenever he is front and center. The scenes of Bennett and Duryea aren’t nearly as involving, mostly because they are so conniving and unlikeable. Still, you have to admit that Bennett makes for a good femme fatale and she really makes you hate her.

After a strong start, the film falters once it enters the homestretch. Some of the complications that arise in the third act are a bit contrived (like the sudden reappearance of Robinson’s wife’s first husband) and get in the way of the love triangle. The denouement also runs on a bit long, and the scenes of Robinson being driven mad by the voices in his head don’t exactly work. However, there are still enough good scenes here to make Scarlet Street a decent enough film noir drama.

Tags: remake, s, thriller

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