The Woman in the Window

  • Directors: Fritz Lang
  • Producers: Nunnally Johnson
  • Writers: Story, J H Wallis, Screenplay, Nunnally Johnson
  • Genres: Film-Noir, Thriller
  • Actors: Edward G Robinson, Joan Bennett, Raymond Massey, Dan Duryea

Wanley first sees the oil portrait of Alice Reed (Joan Bennett) in a storefront window, and then meets the woman herself on the street.

Wanley kills Alice’s lover in act of self-defense. Alice is then blackmailed by Heidt (Dan Duryea), a slick crooked ex-cop who was the dead man’s bodyguard.

Scarlet Street

  • Directors: Fritz Lang
  • Producers: Walter Wanger, Fritz Lang
  • Writers: Screenplay, Dudley Nichols, Story
  • Genres: Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery
  • Actors: Edward G Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea

Christopher Cross (Edward G. Robinson), a mild banker and amateur painter is at a dinner honoring him for twenty-five years of service in the bank for which he works. On his way home, he helps Kitty (Joan Bennett), an amoral femme fatale who is apparently being attacked by a man. Soon, he becomes enamored of her because his own domestic life is ruled by his bullying wife Adele (Rosalind Ivan), who idolizes her former husband, a policeman drowned while trying to save a woman.

From Christopher’s comments about art, Kitty mistakenly believes him a wealthy painter. It turns out that the attacker was Johnny, Kitty’s brutish boyfriend (the film implies as strongly as possible under the Production Code that he’s her pimp), with whom she was arguing over money. Johnny convinces Kitty to pursue the sexual relationship with Cross, in order to extort money from him. Kitty inveigles Cross to rent an apartment for her, one that can also be his art studio. They take an expensive apartment formerly used by the Mexican mural painter Diego Rivera.

To finance this secret life, Cross steals from the bank. Meanwhile, Johnny tries selling some of Cross’s paintings, attracting the interest of a famous art critic. Kitty pretends she painted them, charming the critic, who promises to represent her. When Cross’s wife sees her husband’s paintings in a commercial art gallery as the work of Katherine March, she accuses him of copying March’s work. Cross grasps that he can sell his paintings under Kitty’s signature, and happily lets her become the public face of his art.

At story’s end, Cross, haunted by thoughts of Kitty, attempts to hang himself. He is rescued, but becomes a poor man with no way of claiming credit for his own paintings. He is haunted by Kitty and Johnny being together for eternity, loving each other.

Key Largo

  • Directors: John Huston
  • Producers: Jerry Wald
  • Writers: Maxwell Anderson, Richard Brooks, John Huston
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller
  • Actors: Humphrey Bogart, Edward G Robinson, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore, Claire Trevor, Marc Lawrence

Frank McCloud (Bogart) visits a small backwater Key Largo hotel run by wheelchair-bound James Temple (Barrymore) and his daughter-in-law Nora (Bacall), the widow of Frank’s World War II friend. The hotel has been temporarily taken over by notorious fugitive gangster Johnny Rocco (Robinson) and his gang.

Frank at first appears indifferent to the situation, but Rocco’s treatment of his alcoholic mistress Gaye (Trevor) and his hand in the murder of two local Indians and a police officer convinces Frank that Rocco must be stopped. His chance comes when Rocco forces Frank to pilot the boat by which the gang intends to escape to Cuba. Once at sea, with no hostages to worry about, Frank is able to kill every member of the gang, one by one, Rocco last of all. Frank then returns to Nora.

The subplot turns on Temple’s grief over his dead son; he is under the impression that his son died a hero in Italy. McCloud resists relating any tales about the Temple boy, despite Mr. Temple’s urging. When McCloud relents, he tells exactly the story Mr. Temple and the widow want to hear, although it is apparent that McCloud was the hero that he’s allowing the Temple boy to be.

Double Indemnity

  • Directors: Billy Wilder
  • Producers: Buddy G DeSylva, Joseph Sistrom
  • Writers: Novella, James M Cain, Screenplay, Billy Wilder, Raymond Chandler
  • Genres: Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller
  • Actors: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G Robinson

Walter Neff (MacMurray) is a successful insurance salesman for Pacific All-Risk returning to his office building in downtown Los Angeles late one night. Neff, clearly in pain, sits down at his desk and tells the whole story into a Dictaphone for his colleague Barton Keyes (Robinson), a claims adjuster.

He first meets the sultry Phyllis Dietrichson (Stanwyck) during a routine house call to renew an automobile insurance policy for her husband. A flirtation develops, at least until Neff hears Phyllis wonder how she could take out a policy on her husband’s life without him knowing it. Neff realises she intends to murder her husband and wants no part of it.

Phyllis pursues Neff to his own home, and persuades him that the two of them, together, should kill her husband. Neff knows all the tricks of his trade and comes up with a plan in which Phyllis’s husband will die an unlikely death, in this case falling from a moving train. Pacific All-Risk will therefore be required, by the ‘double indemnity’ clause in the insurance policy, to pay the widow twice the normal amount.

Keyes, a tenacious investigator, does not suspect foul play at first, but eventually concludes that the Dietrichson woman and an unknown accomplice must be behind the husband’s death. He has no reason to be suspicious of Neff, someone he has worked with for quite some time and admires.

Neff drives to his office where he dictates his full confession to Keyes, who arrives and hears enough of the confession to understand everything. Neff tells Keyes he is going to Mexico rather than face a death sentence but collapses to the floor before he can reach the elevator.