A gripping psychological thriller which stars Robinson as a fortyish, intellectual college professor who, with his friends, discusses the dangers of becoming too adventurous at their age. Robinson has a wife and children (who are away on vacation) and sees no reason to wander from his
staid, secure path. However, while admiring a portrait of a beautiful model in a gallery window, he notices the model, Bennett, standing beside him. Bennett asks if Robinson would like to come up to her apartment under honest pretenses: "I'm not married. I have no designs on you," she assures him.
Once in her apartment, this fantasy girl of Robinson's brings about his downfall, though unintentionally. Her boyfriend, wealthy financier Loft, arrives unexpectedly and, thinking that the two are having an affair, begins to slap his mistress around. He then lunges at Robinson, who grabs a nearby
scissors and, in self-defense, stabs his attacker in the back. Frightened both of the police and of the disgrace he will cause his family, Robinson plots, with Bennett, to dispose of the body. Battling countless obstacles and nearly getting caught a number of times, they take the corpse, sitting
up in the back seat of a car with open, glazed eyes, to a secluded woody area. They manage to carry out their plan without getting caught. Robinson, however, is still subject to mental torture, especially by his friend, Massey, a district attorney who continually talks about the case, unaware that
Robinson is the man he's after. Through Massey, Robinson learns all the most intricate details of the investigation and is able to follow the progress of the police. He also learns his mistakes, which mount by the day. Making matters worse is a blackmail scheme engineered by Loft's bodyguard,
Duryea, who has discovered Robinson's guilt.
With its terse pacing and elegant camerawork, THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW was a great box-office success and one of the most praised films noir of its time. Robinson, in a role different from his standard gangster part, shines and holds the film's credibility together by turning in a convincing
portrayal of a good man who is caught off guard just once (to paraphrase the title of the novel, Once Off Guard, on which the film is based). Bennett, in her second Lang film after 1941's MAN HUNT, is dazzlingly alluring as the fantasy girl who comes to life for Robinson. The collaboration between
Bennett and Lang was so amiable that they would work together two more times, in SCARLET STREET with Robinson again as costar, and in SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR, both produced by her and husband Walter Wanger's own Diana Productions. Although many people feel cheated by the film's ending, Lang always
felt (in later interviews) that his decision was justified. Either way, it's still a fine film.
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