Tim Purtell
November 18, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

Scarlet Street

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
performer
Joan Bennett, Edward G. Robinson
director
Fritz Lang
genre
Mystery and Thriller

We gave it an A-

Long available only on washed-out DVD and VHS versions, Fritz Lang’s scorching Scarlett Street finally gets its due with a pristine new print of rich, varied tones and contrast. The depth of the blacks fits this bleak romance about a homely, middle-aged cashier and amateur artist Chris Cross (played subtly by Edward G. Robinson), who becomes fatally entangled with Joan Bennett’s trampy Kitty March and her greedy, quasi-pimp lover, Johnny (a terrific Dan Duryea). Unlike most stars playing tarts, Bennett never suggests there’s a lady beneath the coarseness. She throws herself into the role with gusto and a delectable, unsentimental slyness that’s perfectly matched by Lang’s mordant pessimism.

EXTRAS Author David Kalat’s brisk, informed commentary posits that the director’s self-destructiveness and eventual flameout in Hollywood were often reflected in his films. And as proof that ’40s mores were no less kinky than today’s, Duryea’s female fans were apparently turned on by his ability to give good on-screen slaps.

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