Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Woman in the Window (1944)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Woman in the Window (1944)

In Fritz Lang's dark, noirish murder-melodrama masterpiece, with a modified ending from a suicide to "it was all just a dream" conclusion - one more suited for the Production Code at the time:

  • the scene in which law-abiding, mild-mannered, middle-aged and married Gotham College Professor Richard Wanley (Edward G. Robinson), a teacher of criminal psychology, met beautiful, strange painting model and femme fatale named Alice Reed (Joan Bennett) - when she emerged as a reflection next to a portrait painting in the window of a nearby art gallery, near to the entrance of his NYC mens' club
  • the scenes in which he became embroiled in a crime due to his unintentional self-defense murder, when he was attacked by Alice's burly and jealous boyfriend Claude Mazard/Frank Howard (Arthur Loft) - the boyfriend had wrongly accused her of infidelity; Professor Wanley stabbed the assailant to death in the back with a pair of scissors
  • his plottings with Alice when marked as the killer and blackmailed by Mazard's crafty bodyguard Heidt (Dan Duryea) with evidence of a scratch on his hand and a case of poison ivy while dumping the body in the woods
  • the tense scene of paranoid and increasingly-desperate Wanley's visit to the crime scene with District Attorney Frank Lalor (Raymond Massey)
  • the final surprise sequence in which Wanley suicidally drank poison (seated next to a table in his home displaying family photographs); with a change of the setting, he was awakened in the men's club by the hand of steward Collins (Frank Dawson) nudging his shoulder, as the clock chimed: ("It's 10:30, Professor Wanley"); he finished up the brandy (not poison) in his glass, and realized - to his great relief - that everything had been a troubling dream! [Note: the individuals in the club as he exited were characters in his dream: hatcheck man Charlie (Arthur Loft), and doorman Tim (Dan Duryea).]
  • on the street, as Wanley again paused in front of the painting of the 'woman in the window', he was chuckling to himself as another passerby came up to him and innocently asked: "Pardon me, uh, will you give me a light?"; Wanley steadfastly refused and hurriedly fled: "No, oh, no. Thank you, indeed. Not for a million dollars!"; the film ended on a close-up of the painting


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