Fritz Lang

Fritz LangOn this day in 1890, the great filmmaker Fritz Lang was born. He is primarily known for two iconic films. The first is one of the greatest silent films, Metropolis. It is visually stunning (even by today’s standards) and great story telling. Thematically, I have some problems with it. It shows the unjust class divide of that time as well as today. But it also shows the workers of Metropolis as a bunch of sheep who are easily led to do good or evil. I can well see why Joseph Goebbels loved the film and offered Lang the job of running Universum Film AG. (It was at that moment that Lang decided he had to get out of Germany. He went to France for two years and then made the very smart decision to move to the United States.) The entire two and a half hour 2010 restored print of the film is available on YouTube. But here is the trailer, which gives a good idea of just how amazing the film is:

His second iconic film was made four years later, M. It was also his first film with audible dialog. But unlike early American sound pictures, it was not staged at all. In fact, much of it has an almost neorealist feel to it. And there isn’t much to the story. There’s a man who we assume is molesting and then killing children. The town chase after him and put him on trial. And here is that scene:

He made a couple dozen films in the United States. There are generally quite good, but they aren’t revolutionary like his early work. Even still, he was critical to the development of the look and feel of film noir. And, of course, Hollywood constrained him because he remained an artist and we can’t have that now, can we? He ended his career with a couple of German productions, including the successful, The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse. Here is a terrible dubbed trailer for the film:

Happy birthday Fritz Lang!

3 thoughts on “Fritz Lang

  1. There’s an interesting one by him, “Fury.” I saw it a few years back when I didn’t have a library account (idiot!) and I’d asked the SO to look up “The Fury,” a DePalma telekinesis horror movie (which is silly, but fun) from the library. The SO accidentally got “Fury” from the library instead.

    It’s an anti-lynching movie; I think it might have been one of Lang’s first American films after he escaped the Nazis. Because Hollywood was what it was (and is what it is) the wrongly accused man is Spencer Tracy and there are only hints of a Black underclass in the film (but there are hints, so viewers with more than the cranial capacity God gave flotsam can figure out the point.) I don’t know if anyone besides Lang made an anti-lynching movie but I strongly doubt it.

    Interestingly enough (or not?) Spencer Tracy also starred in a 1954-ish movie directed by John Sturges (“Magnificent Seven,” “Great Escape,” adventure, etc) called “Bad Day At Black Rock” which is, as far as I’m aware, the first movie to address how Japanese Americans were treated here during WWII. That’s well worth watching. “Fury” is interesting from a film history standpoint but “Bad Day” features a one-armed veteran kicking bigot ass; terrific stuff.

    • I haven’t seen Fury, but I do recall it was his first Hollywood film. I will have to check it out. I haven’t seen Bad Day at Black Rock since I was a teen, but I recall liking it.

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