Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Scarlet Street (1945)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Scarlet Street (1945)

In Fritz Lang's fatalistic film noir - one of the moodiest, steamiest, and blackest thrillers ever made, was a remake of Jean Renoir's La Chienne (1931); its three main actors, Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea, had all appeared together in Lang's The Woman in the Window (1944) - a similar but dreamy film about a love triangle and murder:

  • it was the tragic, nightmarish and cynical story of a meek, middle-aged clerk-cashier and unhappily-married, hen-pecked husband and amateur painter named Christopher Cross (Edward G. Robinson), who hungered for affection; the film opened with Cross being honored at a dinner after 25 years of service
  • afterwards, Cross unwittingly fell into a cruel trap and web of intrigue set up by cold-hearted, amoral femme fatale gold-digger and Greenwich Village streetwalker Katherine "Kitty" March (Joan Bennett); he first met Kitty on a rainy night when she was being beaten up by her own abusive, slick and mercenary, lover-boyfriend-pimp Johnny (Dan Duryea); she enticingly asked: "Would you take me home?"; they got to know each other in a bar for a late-night drink - he was immediately entranced by the clear plastic raincoat-wearing sexy dame, while she inaccurately believed that he was a wealthy painter
  • Kitty's evil deceptions and extortions led Cross to commit embezzlement (of his wife's and employer's funds) in order to rent an expensive apartment for her (to serve as an art studio); she also impersonated him in order to sell his surrealistic paintings (along with Johnny), and was deceitful and cruel to Cross; Kitty took the credit for the paintings (with Cross' approval, since he felt he was symbolically linked to her) and she became a celebrity
  • in the middle of all the deceptive proceedings, there was an amazing and contrived plot-twist; the previous husband of Cross' wife Adele (Rosalind Ivan), corrupt policeman Patch-eye Homer Higgins (Charles Kemper) suddenly resurfaced - he had been presumed drowned during the rescue of a suicidal woman; he had originally disappeared to cover up the fact that he had stolen $2,700 from the purse of the suicidal woman
  • Cross now assumed that his marriage to Adele was invalidated, and that he was free to marry Kitty; he was suspicious that "Kitty" and Johnny were romantically-involved, but still believed he had a chance to marry her
  • Cross delivered a pitiful and pathetic proposal of marriage to Kitty: ("I haven't any wife, that's finished...Her husband turned up, I'm free...I can marry you now, I want you to be my wife. We'll go away together, way far off so you can forget this other man. Don't cry, Kitty, please don't cry"); she responded by humiliating him and revealing her true feelings for him - she called Cross an "idiot": ("I am not crying, you fool, I'm laughing!...Oh, you idiot! How can a man be so dumb?...I've wanted to laugh in your face ever since I first met you. You're old and ugly and I'm sick of you. Sick, sick, sick!")
  • after she ordered him out ("You want to marry me? You? Get out of here! Get out! Get away from me!") -- he lost control of his feelings, leading him to commit murder in a jealous rage by stabbing her with an ice-pick through her bed covers when she hid
Cross' Brutal Stabbing of "Kitty"
  • the film's ending - Johnny was falsely accused of the crime (convicted and executed in the electric chair), while Cross was only fired from his job for embezzling funds from his employer; Cross was not considered a suspect due to his secretive relationship with Kitty
  • however, Cross was a broken man - he suffered humiliating disgrace, psychological torment and mental anguish due to his guilt (i.e., on the night of Johnny's execution, Cross attempted suicide by hanging and failed, and in abject homelessness as a bum, he wandered the streets); he was unable to live with himself, and couldn't convince anyone of the fact that he actually committed murder and sent an innocent man to his death
  • the final image was his shuffling by a 5th Avenue gallery when he passed the 'self-portrait' he had drawn of Kitty; after Kitty's death, she was immortalized as a great painter; Cross overheard its sale to an elderly matron for $10,000; the art dealer Mr. Dellarowe (Arthur Loft) commented: "Well, there goes her masterpiece. I really hate to part with it" - the buyer replied: "For $10,000 dollars, I shouldn't think you'd mind, Mr. Dellarowe"
  • the last lines of dialogue were heard as the tormented and haunted Cross slowly ambled down the deserted street under a movie marquee - he thought of Kitty and Johnny together, with echoing words of love spoken (off-screen) between them: Kitty: "Johnny. Oh Johnny." Johnny: "Lazy Legs." Kitty: "Jeepers, I love you, Johnny."
Tormented and Haunted Cross Thinking of Kitty and Johnny

Rainy Night Meeting: Cross and "Kitty"

Femme Fatale "Kitty"

"Kitty's" Pimp Johnny (Dan Duryea)

"Kitty" With Cross

Patch-eyed Homer Higgins

Newspaper Headline for "Kitty's" Ice-Pick Murder


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z