Robinson plays a hen-pecked husband who gets drawn into a seedy world of crime because of his attraction to a woman. Robinson is a master at whatever he does, and he deserves to be seen.
The New York Times opens its review from the time of its release with this:
Now that the New York State censors have finished playing around with the film "Scarlet Street" (first they banned it and then they passed it, on appeal, with minor cuts), the public may go to see it at Loew's Criterion and decide for itself just how damaging to its morals this picture may be. This being the case, we're not anxious to prejudice any sinners in advance, but we must sound this critical warning: it isn't likely to encourage a life of crime.Slant Magazine has a review. Empire Online says, "Harsh morality tale presenting a world where goodness is exploited. But it's not textbook film noir, rather, it's dark melodrama with a classic femme fatale and a lot more of black humour." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.