German-American master Fritz Lang produced and directed this gritty film noir for Universal Pictures, notable as the first Hollywood feature in which the real criminal goes unpunished. When a mild-mannered cashier (Edward G. Robinson) becomes enamored with an amoral woman (Joan Bennett), she ensnares him in an embezzlement scheme which leads to a murder. Her lover is fingered and executed for the murder, while Robinson's character gets off free. Lang's daring, almost assaultive imagery divided critics and audiences who might have expected less Gothic melodrama. Robinson and Bennett are chilling villains in an era when it was rare not to tack on a happy, or at least moralistic, ending. The script was adapted by Dudley Nichols from a French play filmed by Jean Renoir as La Chienne.
by Michael Betzold review