Category Archives: Foreign Language

M

Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced by Seymour Nebenzal
Written by Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou, Paul Falkenberg & Adolf Jansen
Starring Peter Lorre
Otto Wernicke
Gustaf Gründgens
Ellen Widmann
Inge Landgut
Theodor Loos
Friedrich Gnass
Music by Edvard Grieg
Cinematography Fritz Arno Wagner
Editing by Paul Falkenberg
Distributed by Vereinigte Star-Film GmbH
Paramount Pictures (US)
Release date Germany: 11 May 1931
United States: 3 May 1933
Running time 117 minutes
99 minutes (US)
Country Germany
Language German

Fritz Lang’s M is an interesting 1931 German film. For much part it seems almost like a silent movie. It wasn’t uncommon for film makers in the late 1920s and early 1930s to add sound elements to what started out as silent movies, Hitchcock did this with Blackmail as did Howard Hughes with Hell’s Angels, as they tried to catch up with the boom in talkies in the aftermath of The Jazz Singer.That said, M has long stretches of silent scenes but as sound, or a particular tune, plays an important part in the picture it must have originally been conceived as a talkie.

The plot concerns the hunt for a serial killer who has been murdering young children. The police have hit a dead-end and have started targeting the criminal underworld in the hope that this will help them find the killer. What it really does is cause the criminals to take matters into their own hands so that they can get the police off their own backs and get back to business.

Peter Lorre is quite impressive as the serial killer even though he really doesn’t do much until near the end of the film when he is on the run from, and subsequently captured by, the underworld. It’s interesting to hear the emotion in his voice when he is pleading for his life and stating that none of his accusers know what it is like to be him.It is worth watching this film for his performance alone.

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Metropolis

Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced by Erich Pommer
Written by Thea von Harbou
Fritz Lang (uncredited)
Starring Alfred Abel
Brigitte Helm
Gustav Fröhlich
Rudolf Klein-Rogge
Music by Gottfried Huppertz (original version)
Cinematography Karl Freund, Günther Rittau &Walter Ruttmann
Distributed by UFA (Germany)
Paramount Pictures (US)
Release date 10 January 1927 (Germany) [1]
6 March 1927 (US)
Running time 153 minutes/24 frame/s
(German premiere cut)
114 minutes/25 frame/s
(1927 US cut version)
Country Germany
Language Silent film
German intertitles

Metropolis is a film that features some incredible visuals. The art-deco inspired backgrounds look very stunning as well. As for the content of the film itself, well I am not so sure. A lot of the time I wasn’t exactly sure of what was going on, and a lot of the characters seemed to be really quite stupid, especially Joh Frederson the industrialist/dictator. I did enjoy some of the facia; expressions shown by the actress Brigitte Helm when she was the Machine Man, intent on causing chaos and destrucion and the scenes of her dancing as well. One thing that helps make these sort of scenes look amusing is the fact that silent films run at a different speed to talkies, so the action goes a little faster


Les Vacances de M. Hulot

Directed by Jacques Tati
Produced by Fred Orain
Written by Jacques Tati & Henri Marquet
Starring Jacques Tati
Nathalie Pascaud
Micheline Rolla
Release date(s) France February 25, 1953
USA June 16, 1954
Running time 114 min.
Language French

Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday is a 1953 French comedy starring and directed by Jacques Tati. It also introduced the world to Tati’s comic character Monsieur Hulot.
Tati is hailed as a comic genius but I didn’t find this film to be laugh out loud funny. It was quite cute and there was one scene that I did laugh really hard at, but overall it was more amusing that hilarious. That is not to say that I don’t recommend the film, as Tati’s pantomime is very graceful and is quite funny and everything is very well timed but I guess that this is a film that hasn’t aged as well as some, and I would have found it funnier on first release in the 1950s.

Part of the problem I guess is that there is very little plot involved in the film. It seems that random things just happen for whatever reason. Also, as the film is a satire of post-war French society, it is something that is less relatable to a 2010s audience.

Still I do recommend this film if only for Tati’s performance as Hulot. To my eye, and I could be wrong, Tati looks as though he served as the inspiration in part to Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau and Rowan Atkinson’s Mr. Bean.