If you're ever in the Dark City, as noir expert Eddie Meuller calls it, you might want to avoid the neighborhood of Vixenville through which runs this blood-red road:
Because it's a bit dull. The reviews on imdb, and elsewhere, praise this one to the skies - the leaden, overcast skies - because Fritz Lang directed, and he's brilliant. Right? I'm consistently underwhelmed by his Hollywood work, perhaps because it's rarely as bilindingly BRILLIANT as some seem to insist. I just don't see it. Granted, it's hard to see in "Scarlet Street," because the print's murky. But for a 1945 film it lacks the sizzle and visual finesse of other great noirs.
Anyway. Edward G. Robinson is a henpecked bookkeeper. When we meet him he's dressed for a testimonial banquet.
Instead of taking the train home afterwards, he walks - and his entire life changes. He runs into a hooker getting slapped around by her pimp, and he plays Galahad. She realizes she has a fish on the line, and sets about to extract whatever she can before the jig's up. Yes, it's Joan Bennett, and she's evil. Her character is called Kitty. As in - well, nevermind.
If you're wondering how bad things will get for the love-struck old man: here's the boyfriend.
That's right: Dan Duryea, playing Johnny, another slime-sack extraordinaire. As mentioned a few weeks ago, he was famous for slapping women around in the pictures, and he's slapping away as we meet him. Kitty just chalks this up to his general awesome way of showing he loves her; she spouts all sorts of romance-mag drivel about Real Love and The Fits of Passion, and you almost feel pity for her. Especially when she utters her favorite expression, "Jeepers." After all, if this is her idea of a Man, it's no surprise she doesn't see the quiet worth in Edward G:
The plot concerns Kitty and Johnny running a scam on Eddie, using her name to sell his paintings. He likes to dabble at the easel; it's his own pleasure in the world. Too bad he sucks:
But this in 1945, and such honest primitivism is eventually rewarded with money and fame - all of which go to Kitty, of course. This sets up the usual
stabby denouement, after which the film lurches from one conclusion to the other, including a trial shot in KafkaVision:
The best reason to watch it? Duryea, of course. In this little snip he pokes fun at his own career - a wink & nod most of the audience must have gotten. Why, it's almost postmodern!