screened Wednesday January 16 2007 on MGM DVD in Weehawken NJ
Edward G. Robinson scampers like a lab rat through a maze-like noir narrative, written by Nunnally Johnson and envisioned by Fritz Lang as a twisted moral experiment in male self-actualization. When Robinson’s middle-aged college professor meets a dream image of a woman in the flesh (Joan Bennett), it’s a subtle tip-off that his subsequent dalliance with infidelity is largely a projection of his suppressed desires and fears come to life (underscored – with perhaps a bit too much emphasis – by the twist ending). Every moment that follows indulges testosterone fantasies of violence, sex, and evading the eye of authority, as well as countervailing fears of shame, punishment and public ruination. Robinson is marvelously self-contained in his display of neuroses, leaving Lang to express the desperate fatefulness of his protagonist through an elaborate mise-en-scene of clocks, mirrors, doorways and windows. Perhaps the most expressive and entrancing narrative signifier is Bennett’s performance, which draws from multiple personae – gamine, whore, damsel in distress – to register Robinson’s evolving disposition towards her.
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A classic noir thriller with Robinson in top form as the likeable professor of criminal psychology who finds his most vivid fantasies and fears fulfilled when his wife and kids take a vacation and leave him alone to cope with the evils of the big city. Meeting up (innocently, it seems) with the woman of his dreams – the subject of a painting in a gallery window he passes regularly – he becomes involved first in the violent killing of a man, then in blackmail. Meanwhile his DA pal (Massey) keeps him in touch with the police’s search for the killer. With Bennett and Duryea superb as the eponymous heroine and the blackmailer, and atmospheric camerawork by Milton Krasner, it’s not merely a dazzling piece of suspense, but also a characteristically stark demonstration of Lang’s belief in the inevitability of fate: Robinson, basically a good man, makes one small slip in a moment of relaxation, and he’s doomed.
When it comes to tying in the inherent social critiques of the film noir to nail-biting tension, no one can surpass master director Fritz Lang…What distinguishes Lang’s films from their contemporaries are their surprising narrative economy, expressive visuals, and consistently scathing indictment of the very values that most wartime cinema held most dear…Every element of the design, from the use of shadows and rain at the most inopportune times in the plot to the proscenium arc that often frames the action, helps to heighten the viewer’s identification with the situation at hand while subtly reminding the audience that they are viewing an abstraction of reality… The very commonplace nature of the crime is what makes its telling ring true, both as social satire and reflection of the protagonist’s values.
– Jeremy Heilman, MovieMartyr.com
Hitchcock may have been the master of suspense, but no one could deal in sheer paranoia like Lang. In Lang’s universe, the innocent are guilty and there’s no guarantee that things will work out.
– Jeffrey M. Anderson, Combustible Celluloid
In the same year that Hitchcock employed Salvador Dali to act out psychology tropes in Spellbound, Lang’s familiar, ripe-for-interpretation trademarks—mirrors, clocks, and shop windows—dovetail nicely with the dime-store psychoanalysis. Although the much-maligned ending (a Code-satisfying change from the film’s source novel) makes more sense after repeat viewings, The Woman in the Window is mostly notable as a dry run for the following year’s Scarlet Street, a reunion of Lang, Robinson, Bennett, and Duryea that would boast tighter plotting, richer characters—and a pitch-black ending.
– Sean Howe, Slant Magazine
Fritz Lang has always been one of my favorite directors. As with Hitchcock, his ‘telegraphic clarity of narrative technique’ (Tom Gunning) lends his films an abstract, almost diagrammatic quality, something of the sense of inevitability of all great art. Interesting, then, that so many of his films deal with the chaos and disorder running beneath the surface order of things. Perhaps the purest example of this is The Woman in the Window, the first of the trilogy starring Joan Bennett and truly the complement to It’s a Wonderful Life, made around the same time in 1946. A noirish mise en abyme tale, The Woman in the Window features several moments of brilliant, caustic humour: the famous shot at the end of the film when Edward G. Robinson, playing Professor of Criminal Psychology Richard Wanley, gets his clothes re-arranged around him while he is framed in extreme close-up; his friend District Attorney Frank Lalor inadvertently characterising him as of ‘moderate circumstances’ while describing the hypothetical killer (I can identify with that!); and the wonderful conceit of a beautiful woman asking a homely middle-aged man to go upstairs and see her etchings (ditto!). In a film about the virtual fantasy world and the unleashed Id, what more fitting than this shot of the delectable Joan Bennett as femme fatale with – of all things – a nude female torso reflected in a mirror behind her?
– Rex Butler, Rouge
By peering into the unhappy soul of the married man and examining the after-effects of one night’s transgressions, The Woman in the Window excels as a dark-tinted portrayal of guilt and how to get it. Even though Wanley and Reed’s relationship is strictly conspiratorially platonic, it’s obvious that the male fantasy’s end game lurks barely outside the margins of his mind. “This is what might happen should you cheat on your wife and family,” Lang’s film seems to caution. And Wanley feels an obvious guilt, but for what exactly? He committed no crime initially, killing only in self-defense, yet he decided to essentially act as if he had. Guilt does strange things to men. Wanley is guilty not so much for the stabbing by scissors as his state-of-mind at the time. A late-night rendezvous at an attractively available woman’s home has only one intention.
– clydefro jones for DVD Times
The film was suspenseful, ably directed by Lang, and filled with all kinds of Freudian psychological interpretations about sexual repressions. The dark camera shots and jittery angles caught by cinematographer Milton Krasner, added to the tension seen in Robinson’s internal struggle. The performances by the stars was superb. That the Robinson character made one wrong move in his life and had to pay for it, shows how even the most innocent type of person is capable of murder if he’s faced with the right circumstances. The only thing I didn’t care for was the surprise ending. It seemed to be tacked onto the story not for its artistic merit but as a Hollywood “Production Code” decision not to ruffle feathers about sexual misconduct.
The only thing that hasn’t stood the test of time is the ending, I don’t want to give it away but all it needs is a trombone going “Wahhh Wahhh” to really make it bad. In defense of Lang I guess it was a new, novel idea in 1944 and the technique used in the transitional shot is amazing. Without giving it away totally , Edward G. is sitting in a big overstuffed chair in an apartment, the camera tracks in to a tight close up of his face, then it tracks back revealling him in an entirely different location. There’s no dissolve so you know the crew was flying walls in and out, changing furniture, replacing props, all in a few seconds. Really a great effect.
– Joe D’Augustine of Film Forno. Joe also worked on the recent restoration of this film:
During the restoration of this film I noticed a difference between the two versions I was using as source material. In the Nitrate print from the 1940’s there’s a scene where Eddie G. is pulled over by a cop while driving with the body of a dead man in the trunk of his car. The cop asks for his ID and Eddie gives it to him. Upon examining it the cop says ” Wanley huh, what is that Polish” Whereupon an angered Eddie G. snaps back “No, it’s American!” This exchange was excised from the Fine Grain version made in the 60’s maybe because of sensitivity to Polish jokes. They had blown up a shot to get rid of the line by creating a new cutaway. I had to be creative to get it to cut back in but I did it, so if you watch a new release of the film it’s in there. See if you can tell how I did it. In any case it’s a great honor for me to have made an edit in a Fritz Lang Film.
An extensive account of Fritz Lang’s collaborations with producer Walter Wanger and Diana Productions can be found in “Fritz Lang, Incorporated,” by Matthew Bernstein, found in Hollywood, Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies, edited by Thomas Schatz.
Aaron Wallace for Ultimate Disney.com
Referring to Lang’s Human Desire (1954), a remake of Renoir’s La Bête Humaine (1938), Andrew Sarris pointed out that “if Renoir is concerned with the plight of his characters, Lang is obsessed with the structure of the trap.” (3) Time is, for Lang, a perennial reminder of this trap. Both the men’s club and the Wanley home echo with ticking clocks, carefully foregrounded in the sound mix. A luminous clock presides over Alice’s apartment building, and every time a character enters or leaves, the audience can time-code the march of the fateful night. Lang also uses mirrors to reflect, multiply and expand a room and its contents into a suffocating thicket of entrapment. As a signature device of the director, the large mirror surfaces in Alice’s apartment literally capture the action, holding it prisoner while Lang and the audience examine the creatures the camera has caught in its trap. We the audience become, in Wanley’s phrase, “armchair adventurers” on a pitiless hunt.
– Girish Shambu, from his annotations on the film for Senses of Cinema
The visual motif of strong diagonal lines crossing the frame that appears from time to time in Fritz Lang’s films is clearly no accident. For instance, to get the pattern of shadows on the floor shown in the frame from You Only Live Once the shot had to be specially relit, since in the other shots that surround it in the film it can be seen that the shadows lie in quite different positions. In the other examples illustrated the compostion has been created by putting the camera in a somewhat unusual position, or a shot has been taken that is not at all necessary or helpful to the action of the film, as in the shot of the suitcases from The Secret Beyond the Door, and also in the shot of the rails from Human Desire. And in the case of The Woman in the Window the production designer’s photograph of the real tollgate on which he based his studio set is taken from a much more banal angle than the composition that Lang finally got from the set when he shot the film. Most of these characteristic shots from Fritz Lang’s films are associated with a typical camera position at eye-level or above, tilted slightly down, and with the lens direction at about 45 degrees to the walls of the buildings in the horizontal plane.
– from “Fritz Lang’s Diagonal Symphony” by Barry Salt, Starword
The heroine’s apartment in Woman is open: each room flows into the next. Its openness suggests her honesty and intelligence. It is very different from the maze like apartment in Scarlet Street, and far less complicated geometrically than the apartment in that film. Its most prominent feature is the mirror surrounding the mantelpiece. I have never seen a mirror with such a complex shape in any other motion picture. Although Lang loved mirror shots and used them in many works, The Woman in the Window has, I believe, more mirror shots than any other Lang film. Most of these shots use Lang’s trademark: one person filmed from two different angles…
Lang executes several complex camera movements in the scene immediately following, at Robinson’s club. These camera movements occur in stages, and are closely tied to the architecture of the club set. One shot opens with Robinson and his friend at a circular table – a favorite Lang shape. The camera is stationary as they talk. Then the camera pulls back, as Robinson and his friend move forward. The camera then executes a sharp 90 degree turn, facing the hat check desk. In front of this desk, Raymond Massey looms sinisterly, blocking Robinson’s path. He is like an avenging angel or terrible figure of menace in Robinson’s path. The camera moves forward towards the hat check stand. Then later, it tilts at an angle, showing us the path Robinson is walking to the door, at a 90 degree angle again. Each stage reveals a different architecture of the club. The camera moves and compositions are strongly tied to the architecture. These are not the free flowing, actor-centered camera movements of many other directors, both good and bad. A later moving camera shot will move along the path from the doorway of the club. It too will be architectural, in stages, each tied to another section of the set.
– Michael E. Grost, from his comprehensive site The Films of Fritz Lang
Lang’s fascination with… ironic, reverberant dialogue (“I just caught you in time,” spoken to a man as he leaves his office at the end of a day, has a nasty ring when that man has just been stealing from the company safe) is analogous to his reliance on the noises produced by machines, especially in Woman, in which ticking clocks, car horns, idling motors, police sirens, and the click of an apartment door’s security entrance are repeated, each time threatening to reveal guilt by drawing someone’s attention. Woman’s protagonist becomes morbidly aware of sounds beyond his control, exhibiting the film’s notion that destiny is mechanized and uncontrollable. Lang uses with (Michel) Chion terms “null extension of the sound environment” by shrinking the sounds in the acoustic field to those heard by a single character: when the protagonist cannot hear a conversation in which he is vitally interested, the spectator becomes equally frustrated. Similarly, an excess of verbal detail deliberately delays a bit of information that the character is anxiously awaiting and makes his tension palpable. Such examples demonstrate Lang’s keen interest in manipulating the soundtracks of both films, as well as his determination that no effect would be – or seem – accidental.
– Tricia Welch, “Sound Strategies: Lang’s Rearticulation of Renoir”, published in Dead Ringers: The Remake in Theory and Practice, edited by Jennifer Forrest, Leonard R. Koos
Several critics have argued that by identifying The Woman in the Window as a dream, Lang reduces the impact of the traumatic events that cumulate in Robinson’s suicide. But the film’s elliptical narrative becomes an expression of the dangers that await Robinson once he deviates from his orderly life as a professor. The deadly, fatalistic turn of events, inspired by the inversion of Robinson’s Walter Mitty-like dream of romance, reveals its oblique resonance through the traps it lays for Robinson, from the scissors that are just in the right spot for him to kill Joan Bennett’s sugar daddy to the cut he suffers. The film’s dreamlike undercurrent is subtly expressed in the way Dan Duryea discovers evidence of the crime, as if someone has told him the exact location of each of the clues. Whether that someone is defined as Robinson’s superego or Lang’s omniscent character or in those of the other actors. They are caught up in a menacing environment that determines their every move and final destiny. Even if the dream label is regarded as a joke, Lang conclusively depicts the tragic conclusiveness of romantic fantasies.
From Film, A Modern Art, by Aaron Sultanik, p. 201.
What is the “happy end” of Woman in the Window about if not – to echo Roland Barthes – leaving the cinema? As Lang knew, Shakespeare is the great precedent here, where every spectator leaving the theatre is gently touched by Prospero’s wand. This is the “real” magic of the aesthetic contract, the fantasy frame’s bonus of pleasure:” just as Wanley wakes up, momentarily disoriented by eventually reprieved, from his suicidal nightmare, so the spectator – walking out of the theatre, with or without hat – leaves behind the world of the fantasmic. The crowning irony of Woman in the Window, one carefully prepared for by its cunning director, is that at the bittersweet but by no means bitter end, we’re profoundly happy, like Wanley, to be disenchanted.
– Robert Miklitsch, in “Flesh for Fantasy: Aesthetics, the Fantasmic, and Film Noir,” found in Traversing the Fantasy: Critical Responses to Slavoj Zizek, edited by Geoff Boucher, Jason Glynos, Matthew Sharpe
The psychological key to the whole film is Wanley’s true feelings about the type of liaison he dreams of having with Reed. His Victorian outlook renders him incapable of seeing the encounter as a relatively minor temptation for the fear of releasing the evil forces of the id imprisoned with him. His respectable bourgeois life is based upon suppression of those fears by demonstrating how it only takes a series of unlucky circumstances to turn anyone into a murder. Those circumstances must occur when Wanley gives in to Reed’s temptation because he sees this minor evil as inseparable from the greater potential evil within him. His inevitable fate is actually the working out of the guilt that he has regarding this liaison. If he could believe that there was nothing wrong with it, that it was perfectly civilized and moral, no fateful circumstances would occur. Instead, he is doomed by his bourgeois Puritanism to assume that any urge he has from the narrow moral boundaries of his life must be the evil rumblings of his id.
The Woman in the Window can be seen as a profound and cynical attack upon its own generic underpinnings. The film’s thematic drift constitutes a clever expose of the type of subjective thriller which was so successfully pioneered by Lang and Hitchcock. Such films always involve a normal protagonist being cast adrift in a chaotic world of danger and evil. The dream structure and fate them of The Woman in the Window serve as a penetrating analysis of that generic format. The psychological function which Wanley’s dream performs is symbolic of mass functions that that all subjective thrillers perform. When the film is revealed as Wanley’s nightmare, the viewer realizes that fate was really just a contrived manifestation of the protagonists’ neurotic fears. One can no longer accept such fate as valid once the psychological function is understood. Wanley simply dreamed up the whole thing to justify his conservative fear of freedom. He responds to the dream as proof of his fears when it is really just a contrived manifestation of them.
The same type of circular reasoning traps the viewer of most subjective thrillers. Being afraid to experience real, adventurous freedom, the viewer does so vicariously in Hitchcock-type movies. These films always involve verification of the audience’s neurotic fears, in the form of extreme danger and evil. The viewer comes out of the film with his urge for adventure and his neurotic fears satisfied. He will continue to be afraid of real freedom because his fears have been reinforced by the movie. This is a totally unreliable reinforcement, since these films are virtually contrived to capitalize upon such fears. The movie, like the dream, cannot be trusted because of the deceptive psychological function it performs. This is the subversive truth which is implied by Wanley’s dream and which give The Woman in the Window some very meaningful structural irony.
About the MGM DVD:
Fox, through its recent acquisition of distribution rights to MGM’s library, has finally released The Woman in the Window on DVD in a barebones affair as part of the first wave of a “Film Noir” bannered series. Unlike Fox’s own film noir series, these titles, also including Kansas City Confidential, A Bullet for Joey, and The Stranger, are completely devoid of extra features, despite being priced higher. Dishing out an extra five dollars while losing a commentary and liner notes seems a little like a slap in the face from Fox, but film noir fans probably enjoy a little masochism now and then anyway.
– clydefro jones for DVD Times
Another decent, if not stellar, progressive, single-layered, transfer from MGM. Fairly good contrast and grey tones and the image is (again – as Bullet For Joey) fairly clean. Still some artifacts but it’s a pleasant surprise from the usual lackluster manner that MGM has tended to treat such classics.
– Gary Tooze for DVD Beaver
Senses of Cinema Great Directors biography by Daniel Shaw
Essay by Rob White for BFI
The rule is that you should start your first shot at nine o’clock. I consider the crew very close to me because we are working together. I mean, if someone pushes the cart on which the camera stands, he knows he has to stop exactly on one point for a certain reason. If he doesn’t understand why, he may go too far or he may not go far enough. So I was always the first one at the studio at seven o’clock. And do you know why? For a very simple reason. Look, sometimes you have to go into overtime. You usually send your main actress home because if a woman gets up at five or six o’clock and starts to shoot at nine o’clock, the close-ups made at five or six o’clock that evening can’t be very good anymore. So you send her home and then you work maybe one hour later. I don’t want to hear from the crew, “Naturally, Mr. Lang, you come at nine o’clock in the morning. It’s very easy for you to work one or two hours longer.” But when I come at seven o’clock and work with my crew and have a cup of coffee, then they could never say this. I never had trouble with anyone.
– Interviewed June 13, 1973 at the American Film Institute. From George Stevens Jr., Conversations with The Great Moviemakers of Hollywood’s Golden Age at the American Film Institute
Other Cast and Crew
Edward G. Robinson:
Wikipedia bio (why did they pick that for his profile picture?
Robinson worked with some of the best directors in Hollywood—Browning, LeRoy, Wellman, Ford, Hawks, Farrow, Curtiz, Huston—but the archetypical Robinson roles are contained in Fritz Lang’s Scarlet Street and The Woman in the Window. In the former, he is an easily manipulated artist driven to madness and murder by his wife’s infidelity. In the latter, he portrays a cultured and intelligent professor who becomes embroiled in the seamier side of life by his obsession with the beautiful subject of a portrait. In both films, Lang’s themes seem tailor-made to display the disparate facets of Robinson’s personality: paranoia, impending insanity, and violence versus taste, trust, and an innate, if fragile, amiability.
– Frank Thompson and John McCarty for Film Reference.com
Biography at Moderntimes.com
Extensive Fan Page on GoldenYears.org
In her two most highly regarded films, The Woman in the Window and Scarlet Street, both directed by Fritz Lang, she displayed a cool, pernicious character, the antithesis of the mild-mannered, unsophisticated common man played by Edward G. Robinson in each film. In these two films, as well as others such as Jean Renoir’s The Woman on the Beach, Bennett was able to appear beautifully innocent and vulnerable on the surface, while hiding a stony evilness on the inside. Lang, and others, have expressed great admiration for Bennett’s contributions to her films of this period, and some critics have called her the epitome of the film noir heroine.
– Patricia King Hanson for Film Reference.com
The Woman in the Window (1944) is based on a novel by James Harold Wallis, Once Off Guard (1942). The screen play is by Nunnally Johnson, a hugely successful screenwriter of the period, who became a powerful producer as well as director. Johnson’s works tend all to have the same theme. They are about criminals treated sympathetically. Johnson always found reason for the audience to feel sympathetic to the criminals… Johnson showed an astonishing variety of ideas in his presentation of hero criminals. It is amazing, too, that the Hays office allowed him to do this, in an era in which “Crime Does Not Pay” was one of the basic principles of movie censorship. The public tended to love Johnson’s work, however. There was always an attitude of wholesomeness about his criminals…
Johnson was apparently not perceived as a man whose work centered around a common theme. The description above, of Johnson’s works depicting sympathetic criminal heroes with middle class motives, is my own interpretation of his work. Johnson’s contemporaries apparently regarded him as a “reliable professional”, a “good storyteller”, someone who “knew how to please the public”. He was respected without being typed. Each new Johnson screen play was viewed as a fresh beginning, one that had nothing in common with the others except good professional standards.
Paradoxically, Johnson’s personal reliability masked a creative life devoted to fantasies of wild, criminal behavior. Johnson apparently had an intuitive knowledge of what middle class people thought about when they imagined breaking free of their roles.
Throughout the film, Robinson seems to be less affluent than the characters at his club. The dialogue points out that his shoes have been resoled and mended: the sign of a poorer person. His house seems far more modest than either the club or Bennett’s apartment. He is dressed in a fussier and less glamorous style. He certainly looks less affluent than the DA. The fact that the DA is a tall WASP, while Robinson is a short ethnic, also suggests that he has lower social standing. Robinson played working class characters of ethnic origin throughout his career; many of his gangster films, both serious and comic, centered on him trying to break through to upper levels of society. His characters expressed the difficulties experienced by many immigrants to America, and their problems blending into a class and ethnic conscious society. All of this gives a pathos to Robinson’s character here, and a certain audience sympathy. The other characters in the film are firmly anchored in different social strata, too. Even the Boy Scout in the newsreel comments on his lower class background. Such a concern with class is perhaps more typical of screenwriter Nunnally Johnson, than of Lang. As in other Johnson films, such as Jesse James, rich people turn out to be thoroughly rotten.
Kevin Jack Hagopin offers this appraisal of cinematographer Milton Krasner for FilmReference.com
Krasner’s best work in this period, and the work which gained him the greatest notoriety, were the two films done under director Fritz Lang, The Woman in the Window and Scarlet Street. The films remain two of Krasner’s most dramatic creations, and feature some of the most characteristic imagery in the film noir canon. The Woman in the Window‘s lush, modern apartment set, in which much of the film’s action takes place, is imbued with a rich range of gray tones by Krasner, giving the set an air of complexity and suspense. Krasner’s camera moves effortlessly from one set-up to another. Though not then noted for dramatic treatment of interior space, Krasner here shows an excellent story sense. The exterior of the apartment building, on the other hand, is a triumph, and the image of a rain-soaked street (shot in the Goldwyn lot), its deserted brownstone fronts receding in geometric regularity into deep space, has become an icon of the genre. Scarlet Street played to the cinematographer’s strength. The backlot street scene of this film (which in structure and plot is virtually identical to Woman in the Window), is expanded into an entire sequence. Krasner’s work, this time on the Universal backlot, has a rare (for him) expressionist flavor. Edward G. Robinson, a timid bank clerk, witnesses a mock fight between Joan Bennett and her scheming boyfriend, Dan Duryea. Charaters in both films, moreover, move from interior to exterior space within the same sequences, and exterior space is constantly alluded to through open windows and doorways. Soundstage-shot, false exteriors and backlot streets give these films a Baroque style all their own. Lotte Eisner, writing about The Woman in the Window, noted the remarkable effect of noir stylistics combined with Krasner’s subtle exploration of cinematic space in the film’s most dramatic scene, the murder of an intruder: “As a new taxi drives up outside the apartment building, rain is pouring down. It is the kind of rain that produces an unnerving insecurity and hints at potential catastrophe. Horror and brutality are about to invade the cool, civilized interior of the luxury apartment.”
This lengthy tribute to Dan Duryea offers some choice excerpts from an interview between Dan Duryea and Hedda Hopper from the early ’50s:
Duryea gave a very interesting answer when Miss Hopper asked how he prepared for roles.
“Well, first of all,” he replied, “Let’s set the stage or goal I set for myself when I decided to become an actor …not just ‘an actor’ but a successful one. I looked in the mirror and knew with my “puss” and 155-pound weakling body, I couldn’t pass for a leading man, and I had to be different. And I sure had to be courageous so I chose to be the meanest SOB in the movies … strictly against my mild nature as I’m an ordinary, peace-loving husband and father. Inasmuch as I admired fine actors like Richard Widmark, Victor Mature, Robert Mitchum, and others who had made their early marks in the dark, sordid, and guilt-ridden world of film noir; here, indeed, was a market for my talents. I thought the meaner I presented myself, the tougher I was with women, degrading them, slapping them around in well produced films where evil and death seem to lurk in every nightmare alley and behind every venetian blind in every seedy apartment, I could find a market for my screen characters.”
Hedda answered: “My God, Daniel, that you did and you are the best woman hater next to Cagney that I have ever seen on the screen!” She continued: “How in the world did you prepare or ‘get-up’ for these obnoxious parts?”
“At first it was very hard as I am a very even-tempered guy … but I used my past life experiences to motivate me as I thought about some of the people I hated in my early as well as later life … like the school bully who used to try and beat the hell out of me at least once a week … a sadistic family doctor that believed feeling pain when he treated you was the birthright of every man inasmuch as women suffered giving birth … little incidents with trade-people who enjoyed acting superior because they owned their business, overcharging you. Then the one I used when I had to slap a woman around was easy! I was slapping the over-bearing teacher who would fail you in their ‘holier-than-thou’ class and enjoy it! And especially the experiences I had dealing with the unbelievable pompous ‘know-it-all-experts’ that I dealt with during my advertising agency days … almost going ‘nuts’ trying to please these ‘corporate heads’ until I finally got out of that racket!”
When asked who was one of his favorite actresses to work with, he replied: “Joan Bennett … she was a true professional and so easy to work with in the two films we made with Eddie Robinson: The Woman in the Window and Scarlet Street … and I found her very attractive and before you ask, Hedda, no, I did not have an ‘affair’ with her or any other of my co-stars … for one very good reason: I was very happily married and never broke my vows.”
Both of these films were directed by one of the very best … Fritz Lang. Lang and Duryea had a fine relationship. They respected each other. This led to two of their biggest hits, both co-starring the same successful trio: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea. Lang called Duryea “one of the best actors” he ever directed, in his press release of The Woman in the Window.