Category Archives: Fritz Lang

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


The Return of Frank James

This is one ugly poster in which Henry Fonda looks to be suffering from Bells Palsy. Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck & Kenneth Macgowan
Written by Sam Hellman
Starring
Henry Fonda
Gene Tierney
Music by David Buttolph
Cinematography George Barnes
Editing by Walter A. Thompson
Distributed by Twentieth Century Fox
Release date(s) August 16, 1940
Running time 92 min.
Country United States
Language English

I watched this film on Fox Classics the other night and whilst for some reason I don’t have too many westerns in my DVD collection (something I need to rectify), I did enjoy this particular film. This movie starred Henry Fonda as the anti-hero Frank James, the brother of the infamous Jesse James and member of the outlaw James gang. This film is apparently a sequel to 1939s Jesse James in which Jesse was double crossed by gang member Bob Ford played by John Carradine. The Return Of Jesse James involves Frank’s search for revenge against former friend Ford.

The film is a highly fictionalised account of Frank’s life after Jesse’s death but is very entertaining. It is a very good old-fashioned western film, with some hints to Gone With The Wind thrown in for good measure. There is even a bit of a moral dilemma thrown in for good measure when Frank has to decide whether to pursue Ford or to fight for the freedom of his farm hand Pinky, who is set to be hanged after wrongfully being arrested as an accomplice of Frank’s.

One surprising element to the film is who directed it. Fritz Lang was a German director known for films such as Metropolis and M, German Expressionism and film noir and not films from the western genre, although he did follow this up with some more westerns. This was just his fourth American made film. I still recommend this film and will probably buy it if I see it on DVD. (It used to be available at Big W before Christmas for $9.99)