Fritz Lang

  • Fritz Lang – Scarlet Street (1945)

    1941-1950DramaFilm NoirFritz LangUSA

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    Bleak.. grim… uncompromising… masterpiece… these are the words usually batted around about the film Fritz Lang considered his best American title. And the film lives up to these accolades without excuses. Endlessly rewatchable, the film finds Lang’s mise en scene at its most precise, its most crystalline. The film flows like the rainwater down a polished glass… easy and languid here, pausing there to plump up and gather weight… letting go there with velocity, until Chris Cross (Robinson) eventually finds his bottom in inevitable oblivion. Banned in several states, the ending of Scarlet Street may be the grimmest of all “Golden Age” Hollywood films– and most amazing that it passed the censors. Joan Bennett’s Kitty, and Dan Duryea’s Johnny may be the most vicious characters ever sketched onscreen in a 1940’s melodrama.. and the murder at its climax may be the most shocking, despite the absence of blood and gore.Read More »

  • Fritz Lang – While the City Sleeps (1956)

    1951-1960DramaFilm NoirFritz LangUSA

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    While the City Sleeps (1954) was Fritz Lang’s last fully successful film, one of a pair of movies that he made with independent producer Bert E. Friedlob (the other was Beyond a Reasonable Doubt). Additionally, it has proved to be one of his more enduring successes over the decades, due to the combination of its virtues as a thriller and also as a snapshot of American mores circa 1954. It may not be as respected as, say, M (1931) or Fury (1936), but it might be the Lang film that Americans of the baby-boom generation know best, through countless television showings in the 1960s and ’70s, and like most for its sinister subtext. Strangely enough, While the City Sleeps was not a story that Lang that set out to tell — producer Bert E. Friedlob rejected several of the director’s proposed subjects and imposed the story on Lang, as he had already bought the rights to Charles Einstein’s novel The Bloody Spur. That book was based on the criminal career of William Heirens, who had terrorized that city with a string of burglaries, sexual assaults, and murders during the mid-’40s. Heirens was identified as the “Lipstick Killer” when he left a message, scrawled in lipstick, at one of his crime scenes, asking the police to stop him. He was later caught, and he confessed and was given a life sentence (which he was still serving as of 2003). Read More »

  • Fritz Lang – Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)

    1951-1960CrimeFilm NoirFritz LangUSA

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    Crusading publisher Austin Spenser (Sidney Blackmer) wants to prove a point about the insufficiency of circumstantial evidence. Spencer talks his prospective son-in-law Tom Garrett (Dana Andrews) into participating in a hoax, the better to expose the alleged ineptitude of conviction-happy DA (Philip Bourneuf). Tom will plant clues indicating that he is the murderer of a nightclub dancer, then stand trial for murder; just as the jury reaches its inevitable guilty verdict, Spencer will step forth to reveal the set-up and humiliate the DA. Somewhat surprisingly, Tom eagerly agrees to this subterfuge. Unfortunately, an unforeseen event renders their perfectly formed scheme useless. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt was the last American film of director Fritz Lang.Read More »

  • Fritz Lang – Das wandernde Bild aka The Wandering Image (1920)

    1911-1920DramaFritz LangGermanySilentWeimar Republic cinema

    29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

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    The tangled story that unfolds in the torrid melodrama The Wandering Shadow centers around the character of Irmgard (played by actress Mia May), a virtuous woman who, like many such heroines past and present, gets involved with the wrong kind of man. As the film opens, she is seen fussing on a train headed for the picturesque mountains of Germany, fleeing an unidentified gentleman. Through flashbacks, we learn that Irmgard once found employment with a wealthy free-love advocate (Hans Marr). The two have an affair and, with Irmgard pregnant and desperate, she schemes to secretly marry the man’s brother (also played by Hans Marr) so it at least appears that the child is being raised properly. The confusing story eventually has Irmgard trudging through the mountainous terrain to come across a generous monk who offers her a chance at the redemption she so desperately desires.Read More »

  • Fritz Lang – Harakiri (1919)

    1911-1920Fritz LangGermanySilentWeimar Republic cinema

    29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

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    O-Take-San (Lil Dagover) is a beautiful young woman pursued by an evil Buddhist monk (Georg John) who wants to make her one of his many geishas. She has an affair with the Danish officer Niels Prien (Olaf J. Anderson) who leaves her alone and pregnant. O-Take-San considers ritualistic suicide when she is abandoned in this tragic melodrama directed by Fritz Lang. A nitrate print of the 1919 silent classic was found in the Dutch Film Museum and restored in 1988. ~ Dan Pavlides, All Movie Guide
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  • Fritz Lang – Metropolis [Full Version 2010] (1927)

    1921-1930ArthouseFritz LangGermanySci-FiWeimar Republic cinema

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    “Metropolis is not one film, Metropolis is two films joined by the belly, but with divergent, indeed extremely antagonistic, spiritual needs. Those who consider the cinema as a discreet teller of tales, will suffer a profound disillusion with Metropolis. Whait it tells us is trivial, pretentious, pedantic, hackneyed romanticism. But if we put before the story the plastic-photogenic basis of the film, then Metropolis will come up to any standards, will overwhelm us as the most marvelous picture book imaginable.”
    — Luis Buñuel: Metropolis. In: Great Film Directors. Edited by Leo Braudy, Morris Dickstein. New York 1978, p. 590Read More »

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