Poll

What's your favorite film by Fritz Lang?

Destiny
0 (0%)
Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler
0 (0%)
Die Nibelungen: Siegfried
0 (0%)
Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild's Revenge
0 (0%)
Metropolis
15 (48.4%)
Spies
0 (0%)
Woman in the Moon
1 (3.2%)
M
10 (32.3%)
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
0 (0%)
Liliom
0 (0%)
Fury
1 (3.2%)
You Only Live Once
0 (0%)
You and Me
0 (0%)
The Return of Frank James
0 (0%)
Western Union
0 (0%)
Man Hunt
0 (0%)
Moontide
0 (0%)
Hangmen Also Die!
0 (0%)
Ministry of Fear
0 (0%)
The Woman in the Window
0 (0%)
Scarlet Street
1 (3.2%)
Cloak and Dagger
0 (0%)
Secret Beyond the Door
0 (0%)
House by the River
0 (0%)
Rancho Notorious
0 (0%)
Clash by Night
0 (0%)
The Blue Gardenia
0 (0%)
The Big Heat
1 (3.2%)
Human Desire
0 (0%)
Moonfleet
0 (0%)
While the City Sleeps
0 (0%)
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
0 (0%)
The Tiger of Bengal
0 (0%)
The Indian Tomb
0 (0%)
The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse
0 (0%)
haven't seen any
2 (6.5%)
don't like any
0 (0%)
other
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 30

Author Topic: Lang, Fritz  (Read 5797 times)

1SO

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Re: Director's Best: Fritz Lang
« Reply #30 on: November 01, 2014, 07:03:57 PM »

Man Hunt (1941)

This was listed on an addendum to The TSPDT 250 Quintessential Noir Films list. However, it is quite clearly a propaganda espionage thriller, not Noir. Upon further investigation, TSPDT puts it in a category of films "not often cited as film noir but include certain film noir characteristics, even though - in many cases - they belong in other clear-cut genres."

Either way, the draw here are the three leads: Walter Pidgeon, George Sanders and Joan Bennett. Pidgeon is my least favorite of the three. He's growing on me, but it's been this long just to go from 'guy who appears in a lot of films' to 'that guy with the piercing stare and commanding voice'. Sanders had his vocal routine mastered right away, making him the most effective member of the cast. Even his German is very convincing. Bennett adapts a cockney twang, and she does it well. Weird coming from her, but it doesn't hold back the performance. John Carradine is also memorable as a creepy bad guy.

Better than any of the acting are many of Fritz Lang's lighting tricks. There's so much interesting framing and inserting details like a man being dragged into a room, his feet leaving a trail on the carpet. This might've worked as a silent film. At least then we would've been spared the terrible wrap-up, and there might not be so many lulls between the tense stand-offs. Of course we would've also lost Pidgeon and Sanders verbal jousts.
RATING: * *
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1SO

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Re: Director's Best: Fritz Lang
« Reply #31 on: April 01, 2015, 11:57:29 PM »

Spies (1928)

I love the visual confidence Fritz Lang brings to his silent films. The guy knew how to build a character externally, with memorable hair and make-up. He knew how to film a face. He also knew how to add surreal touches into a genre film, elevating it artistically while thrilling on a basic level. I don't know why he abandoned this once he switched to sound. While my ranked list splits pretty evenly between silents and talkies, he was a much better director before he fled Germany.

Which makes Spies a buried treasure. I like this more than Lang's Mabuse moves, which often stretched credibility in their plotting. While every other spy movie is either doing Bond/Bourne or deconstructing that type (Tinker Tailor, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold), Lang presents organizations that are like detectives from different precincts pitted against each other. An ensemble film where some are especially good at their job, but there are no super spies. The few standout are balanced by a support team of International clock punchers. Sometimes the clever deception techniques work and sometimes they don't. That's the nature of the game.
RATING: * * * - Very Good
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1SO

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Re: Director's Best: Fritz Lang
« Reply #32 on: May 02, 2015, 12:01:55 AM »

You and Me (1938)
“They'd follow you over a cliff.”
“I don't want to go over a cliff.”


This is an odd, odd movie. George Raft and Silvia Sidney both work at a department store where a bunch of ex-convicts are hired. The owner being someone who thinks that they deserve a second chance. Like in Lang's previous film, You Only Live Once, bad people from the past show up, ready to get everyone back in trouble again. But whereas that film is full of doom (even while all being all beautiful and stuff), this one kinda takes a cock-eyed view of it all.

I found this on a Musicals list, IMDB labels it a Crime, Romance, and some reviews refer to it as a Screwball Comedy. So what is it? How can one film be all these things? Answers: Something wonderful and that's mostly thanks to the gifted Fritz Lang who makes it all work. This is one of the most satisfying experiences I've had with a film this year because it manages to walk all those lines with great success. It's also true to Lang's silent movie talent with faces, shadows and interesting angles. This is more essential to the legacy of Lang than any of his Film Noir.

Harry Carey runs a large department store that employees paroled convicts who incorporate their old bad habits into their sales technique. The first star we meet is Sylvia Sidney. The last is George Raft. In between are familiar character actors in rapid succession: Roscoe Karns, George E. Stone, Warren Hymer, and bad guy Barton MacLane. The screwball is solidly set.

Raft and Sidney are in love, though both are too hesitant to express it. I always saw Raft as the early prototype for Humphrey Bogart. Well, this is his Casablanca. Never before have I seen Raft so vulnerable, so fragile. He's still the tough guy, but most of the time he's protecting his heart. It's eye-opening work. Sidney's always great, but her scenes with Raft are so good it's almost a nuisance when others intrude. She also has a great scene where she sets a bunch of crooks straight by using math.

Some of the film has grown mildew, like the Jewish landlady who thanks Raft is "a nice boy", but this and Spies may have tipped the balance for me with Lang. (Rankings) I no longer see him as a director with a couple of Great films, but one with a handful of titles worth checking out.
RATING: * * * - Very Good

Some notes on the Musical numbers here.
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Lang, Fritz
« Reply #33 on: May 14, 2015, 11:29:04 AM »
M
Metropolis

Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
Scarlet Street


Plan on watching Die Nibelungen and Woman in the Moon over the summer.
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Corndog

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Re: Lang, Fritz
« Reply #34 on: March 29, 2016, 08:41:55 PM »
1. M (4)
2. Metropolis (4)
3. The Woman in the Window (3)
4. Scarlet Street (3)
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DarkeningHumour

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Re: Lang, Fritz
« Reply #35 on: April 18, 2016, 09:55:23 AM »
M
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chardy999

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Re: Lang, Fritz
« Reply #36 on: April 18, 2016, 08:54:01 PM »
M
The Big Heat
Scarlet Street
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1SO

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Re: Lang, Fritz
« Reply #37 on: June 20, 2016, 11:48:22 AM »

Rancho Notorious (1952)

If you've already discovered the cult Western Johnny Guitar and think there isn't another film like it, I've got an item for you. Rancho Notorious starts like a typical revenge western - Arthur Kennedy is looking for the bandit who robbed, raped and murdered his fiancee - but it quickly shows a flavor all its own. The occasionally super low-budget sets only help contribute to this Western feeling like it's from another world. By the time the narrator starts singing "Legend of Chuck-A-Luck" you'll realize this is a different kind of Western. (Notorious is a musical much the same way as You and Me, with the songs being used in a very different way.)


Everything centers around an aging Marlene Dietrich, over 50 by this time and playing the part of Altar Keene as a summation of her entire career, much like John Wayne in The Shootist. She runs the ranch for outlaws that Kennedy stumble into looking for the killer (and losing his morality along the way). Keene is happy so long as she gets her way and nobody challenges her, including when it comes to which man she chooses to share her affections with. However, time and fate have created an end to the good times she chooses to ignore. An refreshingly original Western that isn't off-puttingly weird because it just dips its toes into camp and strangeness.
* * * - Good
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pixote

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Re: Lang, Fritz
« Reply #38 on: June 16, 2018, 09:04:12 PM »


Four Around a Woman  (Fritz Lang, 1921)

Here's a film worthy of many more screenshots than the single one above, which doesn't begin to approach the movie at its photographic best. Made the year before Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler, Four Around a Woman is the superior visual experience, boasting cinematography and editing that feel thoroughly more modern and inventive by comparison. The most striking aspect of the camerawork is its lack of perpendicularity. Contrary to the dominant style of the era, Lang's camera films most everything at oblique angles — not in an exaggerated way, like Caligari, but rather with a subtlety that nonetheless resonates with a freshness of perspective. The unexpectedly rapid editing accentuates that off-kilter originality and provides the film with its strong vitality.

The style of the film lends itself well to its story, which is a madcap melodrama, though not one played for comedy. I'm not sure I could even summarize the story on one viewing. It's convoluted as hell and not really all that interesting. Plus, it's hard to know which narrative shortcomings stem from the screenplay and which are the result of the incomplete state of the film, since the surviving print discovered at the Cinemateca Brasileira is reportedly missing about 150 meters. The ending — when cops and criminals and a jealous husband and a blackmailer and thieves and I don't even know who else all descend on the same house at the same time, every subplot intersecting at once — would work better at self-parody, but it seems sincere enough.

The story shenanigans keep me from being able to recommend Four Around a Woman, but it's still a film I think I'd like to revisit one day, if only to savor more its stylistic virtues. I think having foreknowledge of the plot would make for an improved experience, as would different musical accompaniment. The main theme of Aljoscha Zimmermann's score is too jaunty for this material.

Grade: C+

pixote
« Last Edit: June 16, 2018, 09:08:23 PM by pixote »
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1SO

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Re: Lang, Fritz
« Reply #39 on: June 16, 2018, 10:06:49 PM »

Ministry of Fear (1944)

Any filmmaker whose script is aiming to evoke paranoia needs to watch the beginning of this movie. Ray Milland arrives at a charity carnival and Lang's direction instantly creates the unease of something being off. Each new event adds to the feeling that nobody is to be trusted. Everyone seems to be out to get Milland, and all he did was walk into the carnival. This is achieved mostly through visuals, and one creepy audio moment where the place suddenly goes quiet. While the rest of the film slowly lets down the tension, it's a terrific start that pokes the brain awake and launches the story like a water slide.



Lang lets the cast carry the momentum forward, with occasional moments of intrigue. He never lets us know more than Milland and many of the small suggested clues and glances make it a harder story to follow if you try to outthink it. (Milland's mental health is questioned, but is treated like a discarded idea.) I remembered Marjorie Reynolds (Holiday Inn) but forgot Dan Duryea is in this because the role seems too brief for him, but is important in ways more lasting than his screen time. I wish I had watched this alongside Spies, to solidify the similarities in style and Lang's skills from Silent to Noir.
RATING: ★ ★ ★ - Good
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