Review: The Woman on the Beach

The Woman on the Beach is a film noir from 1947 directed by Jean Renoir. We have Joan Bennett as our femme fatale and Robert Ryan as our duped hero. Charles Bickford plays our disgruntled blind husband of Bennett. This is a short film of only 71 minutes long and a fairly simple plot with out much wow factor.

This film starts out very strong with Ryan having a nightmare. The nightmare is strange and wonderful, with some cool camera effects. Ryan plays a Navy man who has seen some bad things. Today we would say he has Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. He wakes from his nightmare as his bed’s head frame and shadows on the wall show he really is in a prison of his own mind.

He travels along the beach where Bennett catches his eye, though he doesn’t stop or acknowledge her, we see there is some electricity there. He continues on his intended path to talk to his girlfriend, played by Nan Leslie, to see if she will marry him. Is this a last-ditch effort to save himself from going mad?

Even though Ryan has just become engaged, he still finds an attraction to Bennett who he learns is married. Ryan soon meets the husband who is a famous artist, except he has recently gone blind. Bickford plays the blind artist who is a very interesting character. He is abusive to his wife, maybe taking out his frustrations on her? As the movie goes along we find the couple to be in a co-dependent relationship. Bickford takes a liking to Ryan, or does he just want his enemy close?

Ryan believes Bickford really isn’t blind but is pretending, to keep Bennett close to him. This all sounds great, but it seems to trail off from here with out to much of a plot. I think this film would have been much better with a little more plot towards the end and a slightly longer run time. Ryan is great as usual, playing an average man back from the war. Bennett is good as our complex femme fatale, using men to get what she wants, but does she really know what she wants? Bickford is also very good as the bitter husband that has lost everything important to him, but is trying to adapt.

This is a decent film worth watching. It has three great characters and starts out with a strong study of those characters. This first half hour is very intense and you feel like you are on your way to watching a hidden gem, but the second half fell a little flat to me. Still worth watching for film noir buffs and fans of the three leads.

Review: Scarlet Street

Poster - Scarlet Street_02

Scarlet Street is another great film-noir from Fritz Lang.  We have our everyday man and noir staple Edward G. Robinson in the lead.  Joan Bennett as our femme fatale and Dan Duryea as a con and thug trying to get ahead.  This story starts out with our hero at a company party for his 25 years on the job.  He leaves drunk and sees a beautiful women getting beat by a man.  He intervenes and stops it, he walks the women home and stops to have a drink with her.  He is infatuated with the much younger women and she seems to like him as well.  The only problem, he’s married to a battle-ax he can no longer stand.  You think you might guess the plot from here, but you would be wrong.  This is one of the most intricate plots, with so many twists and turns, I can’t believe they got all this story to fit into less than 2 hours of movie.  One of the surprising and shocking things of this movie is the abuse towards women, the way it is portrayed makes it look common and just part of life for the time.  The couple out to get ahead is very co-dependent and I found very disturbing.  This movie has no truly innocent or good characters, all are willing to do anything to get what they want.  None of them want the same thing, but use each other in a way that makes for one intense movie.

The other star of this movie is the art, it’s funny that this and my last film-noir review (See my review of Laura) have a portrait of the lead lady that is amazing.  I didn’t realize this when I watched them a couple of days apart, but is a cool coincidence.  The art in this film is very cool.


This may be the darkest classic film noir I’ve seen thus far.  There is no gangsters and guns in this movie and that might be what makes this so dark.  I think this is my favorite Fritz Lang film I’ve seen so far.  This isn’t a widely watched noir but it should be.  This film has a 7.9 on IMDb with less than 9,000 votes, and 100% on Rotten Tomatoes but with only 13 reviews.  This film did fall out of copyright protection, so make sure you watch a good version of this that isn’t to cut up and distorted. I watched it on TCM, always a reliable source for classic films.