The German-filmed Metropolis, M and Mabuse trifecta forever ensures monocled director Fritz Lang's place in history, but his later work in Hollywood is just as vital, if not more so.
An expatriate who fled his Nazi-infected homeland for the U.S., Lang brought with him the mastery of light and shadow, innovative camerawork and paranoid themes of German expressionism and infused them into American filmmaking to help create the "film noir" genre. Produced in 1944, noir thriller The Woman in the Window is one of Lang's great American films. Edward G. Robinson is cast as a meek, married college professor researching the criminal underworld who stumbles into its belly after falling for a gangster's moll, played by the beautiful Joan Bennett. Framed for murder, the milquetoast professor looks blackmail and betrayal in the face only to see the dark reflection of his new self staring back. Lang's exploration of the dichotomy of good and evil in humanity is expert and made all the more worthwhile by tense, surprise twists. The formula was such a success that Lang practically repeated it the following year with the same cast (and with even better results) in another noir classic, Scarlet Street. (Phil Morehart) Grade: A