Scarlet Street : Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

This question involves an enormous spoiler, so please don't read on if you haven't seen the film!

Is Scarlet Street the first mainstream, commercially released film in which a leading character commits murder but goes unpunished, either by the law or otherwise? This used to be an almost absolute taboo in Anglo/American cinema, and even nowadays it's quite unusual. I'm amazed Scarlet Street got past the censors in 1945!

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

Uh..... He went nuts. That's a punishment. He never could take credit for his paintings and you can figure he never painted again. He saw none of the $10,000 his "masterpiece" went for. He became homeless. Haunted by guilt.

He may not have been jailed but he was certainly punished.

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

There's also the psicological punishment, wich i think was worst fot the character...

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

As the others have mentioned he was punished in some way, psycologically and financially etc. But yeah it is odd that he's never punished by the law, not sure if it's the first, but it was certainly uncommon for the period for the Hay's code to let Lang get away with that in his film.

Though didn't Lang have his own production company? May have something to do with that, if we look at one of the cheap b movie noirs like 'detour' which was out in the same year, that has a similar ending, but the plot had to be changed slightly so it showed the main character being arrested, whilst Lang didn't have to. So it may have been because of his power in hollywood.

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

They let it go with the punishment he got. The code didn't say the law had to punish him specifically, just that he had to be seriously punished. Lang got a bit creative with it and his power in Hollywood likely saw it work.

http://www.awardsseasoncentral.cjb.net/

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

OMG! He went to work on her; I loved it! It took me by total surprise because of the time period, and the movements that Edward G. used were pure and fluid, looking every bit expressed with heart and emotion. It was a beautiful scene, though morally bad. When I saw it, I felt myself cheering him on, which is to say he and the young lady built up the scene to draw out empathy for his "poor" soul at that point.

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

Not Lang's power in Hollywood; he had almost no power in Hollywood. Walter Wanger's power got this through the censors, although it was almost held up by the New York State and Atlanta City censors.

Did I not love him, Cooch? MY OWN FLESH I DIDN'T LOVE BETTER!!! But he had to say 'Nooooooooo'

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

I'm in a class on censorship in film right now, and at least according to my professor this is the first time a character gets away with murder in a Hollywood film. Though he does go pretty *beep* at the end, which is probably why the PCA was okay with the film.

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

On the cover of the DVD, it says that this film was banned in 3 states when it first came out. Has your professor shed any light as to why? It's not just because the character got away with murder--Is it?

It's just a movie for cryin' out loud!

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

Spoilers......I heard it was banned in Atlanta for the stabbing scene....considered gruesome for the time.....ultimatley, the scene was edited down a bit and was finally approved.

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

To be precise it might be the first 'Anglo/American' film in which the leading character gets away with murder.

Not a surprise it was an European director to break this taboo, which was pretty much the consequence of the strict Hays code a decade earlier, although Lang had to emphasize pretty much the aftermaths of this act in order to get away with it with the censors.

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in fact, i think dragging out his "punishment" at the end weakens the film somewhat.

perhaps ending after the train scene with the reporters would have been enough, or maybe just enough to make clear that he wouldn't paint again. that would be plenty enough punishment for him.

the wacky insane homeless guy ending just didn't fit the rest of the picture.

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

I agree with the 'weakening' factor, but that was pretty much the unconditional state Lang had to work with: "eiher this way or the highway".

Even compromised, his vision feels more true to life and sincere than 99% of any other auteur's work out there in Hollywood today.

Although I haven't lived in Lang's time or never met him, I do miss him sorely.

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

he's a fascinating film-maker. i picked up the dvd for scarlet street as a discount bin special at wal-mart and didn't have very high expectations but from the very start it was clearly a cut above typical b-movie fare. i didn't realize it was lang until i popped over to imdb and all became clear. that he was forced to tack on the ending is unfortunate but understandable.

i didn't know that "murderers must be punished" was part of the hays code. interesting!

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

"in fact, i think dragging out his "punishment" at the end weakens the film somewhat.
"perhaps ending after the train scene with the reporters would have been enough, or maybe just enough to make clear that he wouldn't paint again. that would be plenty enough punishment for him.
"the wacky insane homeless guy ending just didn't fit the rest of the picture."


Oh, but it does! It reeks of irony... His oblivious shuffle past his painting (just sold for $10K; a LOT of $$$ back then)... no $$$, no recognition for his art/works, no 'credit' (even for the murder, despite mulitple attempts at redemption via confessions), plus the 'reunion' of his 'wife' and her ex- (which he set up). And who wouldn't? Geezsch, what a schrew!

An amazing piece of film art and wonderful use of noir lighting (albeit for/as 'pulp'), all via a great Director & cast on a low budget (and obvious backlot and studio locales)!

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

but all the things you mention - money, fame, even credit for the works - didn't hold any interest for him before the ending. it'd be ironic if he cared about those things but since he doesn't taking them away has no impact. of all the main characters in the film, he's the most mentally stable. plus, if anything, he's the true victim and your sympathies are with him. for him to have a mental breakdown and suffer so much for a justified murder (if there can be such a thing) just seems gratuitous to me.

besides, if he can survive years with that awful wife of his without cracking, he should be able to withstand anything!

i agree it's an excellent film - one of the best film bargains i've come across. right up there beside "the stranger" with orson welles from the dollar aisle at target. :)

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

I saw this film yesterday on PBS, and it was followed by a brief commentary by Neil Gabler addressing this point. He mentioned that the motion picture film board had a real problem with this lack of a formal punishment for evil committed, and that the director and producer had to make a major arguement to override the objections and convince them that Christopher Cross' punishment of a tortured life was an even greater punishment than an execution or long jail term. Cross' punishment being an endless wandering in a hell of his own making and a life devoid of all joy, respect from others and the inability to ever be able to claim credit for an artistic genius that could have garnered him all of his life's wishes, wishes that ironically would have been so fairly achieved.

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

I thought that too! I love those old Hitchcock shows, except that they always have to tack on the "proper" ending. I kept waiting for him to turn himself in at the last minute. This was genius.

Is the original stabbing scene floating around anywhere? Because the edited one is laughably weak, especially when we know Robinson could do violence when it was called for.

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He is punished in the end because he's crazy and homeless and he misses out on all the money he could have gotten from selling his paintings. I was really impressed with the ending. Considering that this was made in the production code era, I kept expecting Cross to come clean and save Johnny from the chair or for the police to come and cart Cross of to prison. I really like how all three main characters were punished in the end, but not in a nice and neat production code sort of way.

youtube.com/grapejuicepictures

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If you've ever watched 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents', the 30-60 min. tv show from the 50's & 60's, Hitch always came on to close and let the viewing audience know that the bad guy/gal was later caught and suffered the consequences. Per production code, and the morality monitors.

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

Legally speaking, the character got away with murder.

However, the character was still significantly punished for his evil deeds.

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

My take on the ending is that we do not feel sorry for either Kitty or Johnny. To be clear I would not say either necessarily deserved to die, but neither do we feel too broken up about them. There was some hint that Chris would own up to what really happened and save Johnny, but that I think would have been a too unsatisfying and untrue ending. But... in the end Chris suffered quite a bit. One would hardly say he got off scot free as it were.

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Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

Nice answers but NO. This is not the first mainstream film in which the murderer isn't punished by the law.
SPOILERS
In Blackmail (1929), directed by Hitchcock, the lead gets away. She isn't arrested, but I believe she was forever hunted by the crime. Yet I believe she did it on self defense.

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!


Nice answers but NO. This is not the first mainstream film in which the murderer isn't punished by the law.
SPOILERS
In Blackmail (1929), directed by Hitchcock, the lead gets away. She isn't arrested, but I believe she was forever hunted by the crime. Yet I believe she did it on self defense.


Yeah, that's much different than Scarlet Street, since the female protagonist in Hitch's film would have been raped if she hadn't killed her would-be rapist.

No blah, blah, blah!

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!

Maybe this should be qualified as "first American mainstream film", since Blackmail is, of course, a UK film.

There is a rather heavy-handed line of dialogue late in this film in which one cop says to another that E.G. Robinson's character keeps telling everyone, "he should be tried and executed!" I feel reasonably certain this line was included to really hit the audience over the head with the idea that the personal hell Robinson has created for himself is the moral equivalent of being tried and executed. I think without that one line of dialogue, the Hays Code probably wouldn't have approved the film.

Re: Is this the first mainstream film in which … Spoiler Ahead!


There is a rather heavy-handed line of dialogue late in this film in which one cop says to another that E.G. Robinson's character keeps telling everyone, "he should be tried and executed!" I feel reasonably certain this line was included to really hit the audience over the head with the idea that the personal hell Robinson has created for himself is the moral equivalent of being tried and executed. I think without that one line of dialogue, the Hays Code probably wouldn't have approved the film.


That's almost certainly what the Hays office was thinking there.

No blah, blah, blah!
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