For much of its brisk running time, The Woman in the Window plays like another balls-to-the-wall gem from the rarely-less-than-masterful Fritz Lang. It has smoky rooms, suspense-a-plenty, excellent acting across the board—particularly from the always-excellent Edward G. Robinson as the protagonist—and a sharp screenplay. The story is vintage noir: respected professor Richard Wanley (Robinson) spots an intoxicating portrait of a young lady in a storefront window while waiting for some friends outside a club. Upon leaving, Alice (Joan Bennett), the object of said portrait, surprisingly emerges behind him, and the evening is born. Before it ends, murder will be afoot, and Richard will have to dig deep into his psychological arsenal to lead the law astray to protect a beautiful lady. Most of The Woman in the Window unfolds as one would expect from Lang: the sequences between Richard and his buddy Frank (Raymond Massey), who just so happens to be the DA assigned to the case, are rife with an edgy tension, and the characters play off each other extremely well. What keeps The Woman in the Window from the heights of Lang’s best from his American period—Fury, You Only Live Once, even The Big Heat—is a peculiar final five minutes, which seems wholly uncalled for and leaves a somewhat unsatisfactory taste in the viewer’s mouth when things officially conclude. Had the ending been a bit earlier, the entire film would have been a much stronger final product. Nonetheless, this admittedly irritating conclusion isn’t enough to keep The Woman in the Window from being yet another notch in the belt of one of cinema’s true titans.

70/100