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Lang, Fritz

LANG, Fritz



Nationality: German/American. Born: Vienna, 5 December 1890, became U.S. citizen, 1935. Education: Studied engineering at the Technische Hochschule, Vienna. Family: Married (second time) writer Thea von Harbou, 1924 (separated 1933). Career: Cartoonist, fashion designer, and painter in Paris, 1913; returned to Vienna, served in army, 1914–16; after discharge, worked as scriptwriter and actor, then moved to Berlin, 1918; reader and story editor for Decla, then wrote and directed first film, Halbblut, 1919; worked with von Harbou, from 1920; visited Hollywood, 1924; Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse banned by Nazis, 1933; offered post as supervisor of Nazi film productions by Goebbels, but fled Germany; after working in Paris and London, went to Hollywood, 1934; signed with Paramount, 1940; co-founder, then president, Diana Productions, 1945; quit Hollywood, citing continuing disputes with producers, 1956; directed two films in India, 1958–59, before last film, directed in Germany, 1960. Awards: Officier d'Art et des Lettres, France. Died: In Beverly Hills, 2 August 1976.

Films as Director:

1919

Halbblut (Half Caste) (+ sc); Der Herr der Liebe (The Masterof Love) (+ role); Hara-Kiri; Die Spinnen (The Spiders) Part I: Der Goldene See (The Golden Lake) (+ sc)

1920

Die Spinnen (The Spiders) Part II: Das Brillantenschiff (TheDiamond Ship) (+ sc); Das Wandernde Bild (The Wandering Image) (+ co-sc); Kämpfende Herzen (Die Vier um dieFrau; Four around a Woman) (+ co-sc)

1921

Der müde Tod: Ein Deutsches Volkslied in Sechs Versen (TheWeary Death; Between Two Worlds; Beyond the Wall; Destiny) (+ co-sc)

1921/22

Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler; TheFatal Passions) in two parts: Ein Bild der Zeit (Spieler ausLeidenschaft; A Picture of the Time) and Inferno— Menschen der Zeit (Inferno des Verbrechens; Inferno—Men of the Time) (+ co-sc)

1924

Die Nibelungen in two parts: Siegfrieds Tod (Death ofSiegfried) and Kriemhilds Rache (Kriemhild's Revenge) (+ co-sc, uncredited)

1927

Metropolis (+ co-sc, uncredited)

1928

Spione (Spies) (+ pr, co-sc, uncredited)

1929

Die Frau im Mond (By Rocket to the Moon; The Girl in theMoon) (+ pr, co-sc, uncredited)

1931

M, Mörder unter Uns (M) (+ co-sc, uncredited)

1933

Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (The Testament of Dr.Mabuse; The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse) (+ co-sc, uncredited) (German and French versions)

1934

Liliom (+ co-sc, uncredited)

1936

Fury (+ co-sc)

1937

You Only Live Once

1938

You and Me (+ pr)

1940

The Return of Frank James

1941

Western Union; Man Hunt; Confirm or Deny (co-d, uncredited)

1942

Moontide (co-d, uncredited)

1943

Hangmen Also Die! (+ pr, co-sc)

1944

Ministry of Fear; The Woman in the Window

1945

Scarlet Street (+ pr)

1946

Cloak and Dagger

1948

Secret beyond the Door (+ co-pr)

1950

House by the River; An American Guerrilla in the Philippines

1952

Rancho Notorious; Clash by Night

1953

The Blue Gardenia; The Big Heat

1954

Human Desire

1955

Moonfleet

1956

While the City Sleeps; Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

1959

Der Tiger von Eschnapur (The Tiger of Bengal) and Das Indische Grabmal (The Hindu Tomb) (+ co-sc) (released in cut version as Journey to the Lost City)

1960

Die Tausend Augen des Dr. Mabuse (The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse) (+ pr, co-sc)



Other Films:

1917

Die Hochzeit im Ekzentrik Klub (The Wedding in the Eccentric Club) (May) (sc); Hilde Warren und der Tod (HildeWarren and Death) (May) (sc, four roles); Joe Debbs (series) (sc)

1918

Die Rache ist mein (Revenge Is Mine) (Neub) (sc); Herrin derWelt (Men of the World) (May) (asst d); Bettler GmbH (sc)

1919

Wolkenbau und Flimmerstern (Castles in the Sky and Rhinestones) (d unknown, co-sc); Totentanz (Dance of Death) (Rippert) (sc); Die Pest in Florenz (Plague in Florence) (Rippert) (sc); Die Frau mit den Orchiden (The Womanwith the Orchid) (Rippert) (sc); Lilith und Ly (sc)

1921

Das Indische Grabmal (in 2 parts: Die Sendung des Yoghi and Der Tiger von Eschnapur) (co-sc)

1963

Le Mépris (Contempt) (Godard) (role as himself)



Publications


By LANG: articles—

"The Freedom of the Screen," 1947 (reprinted in Hollywood Directors 1941–1976, by Richard Koszarski, New York, 1977).

"Happily Ever After," 1948 (collected in Film Makers on FilmMaking, edited by Harry Geduld, Bloomington, Indiana, 1969).

"Fritz Lang Today," interview with H. Hart, in Films in Review (New York), June/July 1956.

"The Impact of Television on Motion Pictures," interview with G. Bachmann, in Film Culture (New York), December 1957.

Interview with Jean Domarchi and Jacques Rivette, in Cahiers duCinéma (Paris), September 1959.

"On the Problems of Today," in Films and Filming (London), June 1962.

"Fritz Lang Talks about Dr. Mabuse," interview with Mark Shivas, in Movie (London), November 1962.

"Was bin ich, was sind wir?," in Filmkritik (Munich), no.7, 1963.

"La Nuit viennoise: Une Confession de Fritz Lang," edited by Gretchen Berg, in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), August 1965 and June 1966.

Interview with Axel Madsen, in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1967.

"Autobiography," in The Celluloid Muse: Hollywood DirectorsSpeak, by Charles Higham and Joel Greenberg, London, 1969.

"Interviews," in Dialogue on Film (Beverly Hills), April 1974.

Interview with Gene Phillips, in Focus on Film (London), Spring 1975.

"Fritz Lang Gives His Last Interview," with Gene Phillips, in VillageVoice (New York), 16 August 1976.


On LANG: books—

Kracauer, Siegfried, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film, Princeton, New Jersey, 1947.

Courtade, Francis, Fritz Lang, Paris, 1963.

Moullet, Luc, Fritz Lang, Paris, 1963.

Eibel, Alfred, editor, Fritz Lang, Paris, 1964.

Bogdanovich, Peter, Fritz Lang in America, New York, 1969.

Eisner, Lotte, The Haunted Screen: Expressionism in the GermanCinema and the Influence of Max Reinhardt, Berkeley, 1969.

Jensen, Paul, The Cinema of Fritz Lang, New York, 1969.

Johnston, Claire, Fritz Lang, London, 1969.

Grafe, Frieda, Enno Patalas, and Hans Prinzler, Fritz Lang, Munich 1976.

Eisner, Lotte, Fritz Lang, edited by David Robinson, New York, 1977.

Armour, Robert, Fritz Lang, Boston, 1978.

Ott, Frederick, The Films of Fritz Lang, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1979.

Jenkins, Stephen, editor, Fritz Lang: The Image and the Look, London, 1981.

Kaplan, E. Ann, Fritz Lang: A Guide to References and Resources, Boston, 1981.

Maibohm, Ludwig, Fritz Lang: Seine Filme—Sein Leben, Munich, 1981.

Dürrenmatt, Dieter, Fritz Lang: Leben und Werk, Basle, 1982.

Humphries, Reynold, Fritz Lang: Cinéaste Américain, Paris, 1982.

Humphries, Reynold, Fritz Lang: Genre and Representation in HisAmerican Films, Baltimore, 1988.

McGilligan, Patrick, Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast, New York, 1997.

Levin, David J., Richard Wagner, Fritz Lang, and the Nibelungen:The Dramaturgy of Disavowal, Princeton, New Jersey, 1998.

Minden, Michael, and Holger Bachmann, editors, Fritz Lang's "Metropolis": Cinematic Views of Technology and Fear, Rochester, New York, 2000.


On LANG: articles—

Wilson, Harry, "The Genius of Fritz Lang," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Summer 1947.

Truffaut, François, "Aimer Fritz Lang," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), January 1954.

Lambert, Gavin, "Fritz Lang's America," in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1955.

Demonsablon, Phillipe, "La Hautaine Dialectique de Fritz Lang," and Michel Mourlet, "Trajectoire de Fritz Lang," in Cahiers duCinéma (Paris), September 1959.

Franju, Georges, "Le Style de Fritz Lang," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), November 1959.

Taylor, John, "The Nine Lives of Dr. Mabuse," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1961.

Sarris, Andrew, "Fritz Lang," in Film Culture (New York), Spring 1963.

Rhode, Eric, "Fritz Lang (The German Period, 1919–1933)," in Tower of Babel (London), 1966.

"Lang Issue" of Image et Son (Paris), April 1968.

Joannides, Paul, "Aspects of Fritz Lang," in Cinema (London), August 1970.

Burch, Noel, "De Mabuse à M: Le Travail de Fritz Lang," in special issue of Revue d'esthétique (Paris), 1973.

Appel, Alfred Jr., "Film Noir: The Director Fritz Lang's American Nightmare," in Film Comment (New York), November/December 1974.

Gersch, Wolfgang, and others, "Hangmen Also Die!: Fritz Lang und Bertolt Brecht," in Filmkritik (Munich), July 1975.

Sarris, Andrew, "Fritz Lang (1890–1976) Was the Prophet of Our Paranoia," in Village Voice (New York), 16 August 1976.

Overby, David, "Fritz Lang, 1890–1976," in Sight and Sound (London), Autumn 1976.

Kuntzel, Thierry, "The Film-Work," in Enclitic (Minneapolis), Spring 1978.

Willis, Don, "Fritz Lang: Only Melodrama," in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Winter 1979/80.

Magny, Joel, and others, "Actualité de Fritz Lang," in Cinéma (Paris), June 1982.

Neale, Steve, "Authors and Genres," in Screen (London), July/August 1982.

Duval, B., "Le crime de M. Lang. Portrait d'un Fritz en artisan de Hollywood," in Image et Son (Paris), November 1982.

McGivern, William P., "Roman Holiday," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), October 1983.

Rotondi, C.J., and E. Gerstein, "The 1984 Review. The 1927 review. Fritz Lang: The Maker of Metropolis," in Films in Review (New York), October 1984.

"Lang section" of Positif (Paris), November 1984.

"Der Tiger von Eschnapur Issue" of Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), April 1985.

"Das indische Grabmal Issue" of Avant-Scène du Cinéma (Paris), May 1985.

"Fritz Lang," in Film Dope (London), November 1985.

Giesen, R., "Der Trickfilm," in Cinefex (Riverside, California), February 1986.

Bernstein, M., "Fritz Lang, Incorporated," in Velvet Light Trap (Madison, Wisconsin), no. 22, 1986.

Pelinq, M., in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), April/May and June/July 1989.

Smedley, N., "Fritz Lang Outfoxed: The German Genius as Contract Employee," in Film History (London), vol. 4, no. 4, 1990.

Werner, G., "Fritz Lang and Goebbels: Myth and Facts," in FilmQuarterly (Berkeley), vol. 43, no. 3, Spring 1990.


Saada, N., J. Douchet, and M. Piccoli, "Lang, le cinéma absolument," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), no. 437, November 1990.

Smedley, N., "Fritz Lang's Trilogy: The Rise and Fall of a European Social Commentator," in Film History (London), vol. 5, no. 1, March 1993.

Sturm, G., "Fritz Lang, une ascendance viennoise," in Cinémathèque (Paris), no. 6, Autumn 1994.

"Special Section," in Positif (Paris), no. 405, November 1994.

Dolgenos, Peter, "The Star on C. A. Rotwang's Door: Turning Kracauer on Its Head," in Journal of Popular Film and Television (Washington, D.C.), vol. 25, no. 2, Summer 1997.


On LANG: films—

Luft, Friedrich, and Guido Schütte, Künstlerporträt: Fritz Lang, for TV, Germany, 1959.

Fleischmann, Peter, Begegnung mit Fritz Lang, Germany, 1963.

Leiser, Erwin, Das war die Ufa, Germany, 1964.

Leiser, Erwin, Zum Beispiel Fritz Lang, for TV, Germany, 1968.

Dütsch, Werner, Die Schweren Träume des Fritz Lang, for TV, Germany, 1974.


* * *

Fritz Lang's career can be divided conveniently into three parts: the first German period, 1919–1933, from Halbblut to the second Mabuse film, Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse; the American period, 1936–1956, from Fury to Beyond a Reasonable Doubt; and the second German period, 1959–60, which includes the two films made in India and his last film, Die tausend Augen des Dr. Mabuse. Lang's apprentice years as a scriptwriter and director were spent in the studios in Berlin where he adopted certain elements of expressionism and was imbued with the artistic seriousness with which the Germans went about making their films. In Hollywood this seriousness would earn Lang a reputation for unnecessary perfectionism, a criticism also thrown at fellow émigrés von Stroheim and von Sternberg. Except for several films for Twentieth Century-Fox, Lang never worked long for a single studio in the United States, and he often preferred to work on underbudgeted projects which he could produce, and therefore control, himself. The rather radical dissimilarities between the two studio worlds within which Lang spent most of his creative years not surprisingly resulted in products which look quite different from one another, and it is the difference in look or image which has produced the critical confusion most often associated with an assessment of Lang's films.

One critical approach to Lang's work, most recently articulated by Gavin Lambert, argues that Lang produced very little of artistic interest after he left Germany; the Cahiers du Cinéma auteurists argue the opposite, namely that Lang's films made in America are superior to his European films because the former were clogged with self-conscious artistry and romantic didacticism which the leanness of his American studio work eliminated. A third approach, suggested by Robin Wood and others, examines Lang's films as a whole, avoiding the German-American division by looking at characteristic thematic and visual motifs. Lang's films can be discussed as exhibiting certain distinguishing features—economy, functional precision, detachment—and as containing basic motifs such as the trap, a suppressed underworld, the revenge motive, and the abuse of power. Investigating the films from this perspective reveals a more consistent development of Lang as a creative artist and helps to minimize the superficial anomalies shaped by his career.

In spite of the narrowness of examining only half of a filmmaker's creative output, the sheer number of Lang's German movies which have received substantial critical attention as "classic" films has tended to submerge the critical attempt at breadth and comprehensiveness. Not only did these earlier films form an important intellectual center for the German film industry during the years between the wars, as Siegfried Kracauer later pointed out, but they had a wide international impact as well and were extensively reviewed in the Anglo-American press. Lang's reputation preceded him to America, and although it had little effect ultimately on his working relationship, such as it was, with the Hollywood moguls, it has affected Lang's subsequent treatment by film critics.

If Lang is a "flawed genius," as one critic has described him, it is less a wonder that he is "flawed" than that his genius had a chance to develop at all. The working conditions Lang survived after his defection would have daunted a less dedicated director. Lang, however, not only survived but flourished, producing films of undisputed quality: the four war movies, Man Hunt, Hangmen Also Die!, Ministry of Fear, and Cloak and Dagger, and the urban crime films of the 1950s, Clash by Night, The Blue Gardenia, The Big Heat, Human Desire, and While the City Sleeps. These American films reflect a more mature director, tighter mise-en-scène, and more control as a result of Lang's American experience. The films also reveal continuity. As Robin Wood has written, the formal symmetry of his individual films is mirrored in the symmetry of his career, beginning and ending in Germany. All through his life, Lang adjusted his talent to meet the changes in his environment, and in so doing produced a body of creative work of unquestionable importance in the development of the history of cinema.

—Charles L.P. Silet

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Fritz Lang

Fritz Lang

Austrian-born Fritz Lang (1890-1976) was one of the world's great film directors. He played a major role in shaping two national cinemas: the German during the 1920s and early 1930s (with films such as Metropolis and M), and the American during the 1940s and 1950s (with films such as You Only Live Once.

Born in Vienna, Austria, on December 5, 1890, to Anton and Paula (née Schlesinger) Lang, Fritz grew up in middle-class comfort. Always a visual person, his most important early impressions were of the Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Fair) in his native city. He also loved the theater and read a great deal, both popular and more demanding literature and philosophy. Expected to take up his father's profession—he was a municipal architect—Lang enrolled at the Technische Hochschule of Vienna, but did not stay long. He soon left home altogether to study his real interest, painting, and to wander around the world (Russia, Asia Minor, Africa). By 1913 he was in Paris, supporting himself through fashion design, painting postcards, and drawing cartoons. At the outbreak of World War I he returned to Vienna where he was soon called up to join the Austrian army. While recuperating from wounds which would cost him the sight of one eye, he began to write film scripts and to act in the theater. In 1918 an invitation from Decla, the leading German film studio, brought him to Berlin.

German Films: 1919-1933

Little evidence remains of Lang's earliest work in Berlin. He scripted films for Joe May and Otto Rippert, acted in minor roles, and soon began directing as well. Halbblut (Half Caste), his debut, was quickly followed by Der Herr der Liebe (The Master of Love); Die Spinnen (The Spiders), Part One: Der goldene See (The Golden Lake); and Harakiri, all released in 1919. Lang was also being considered for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari but had to give up participation in this eventually famous film for a sequel to his popular Spiders, Part Two: Das Brillanten Schiff (The Diamond Ship) (1920). His next films from the same year, Das wandernde Bild (The Wandering Image) and Vier um die Frau (Four around a Woman), were already written in collaboration with Thea von Harbou, who in 1921 became Lang's second wife and continued to coauthor all screenplays for his subsequent films until he left Germany in 1933. (She joined the Nazi party, stayed, and continued to write scripts for the cinema of the Third Reich.)

Lang's first major film was Der müde Tod (Destiny) (1921). Its theme, man's fight against fate, was to become central to all of his work. Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler) (1922), one of three pictures Lang was to make about this master criminal, followed. Then came two very ambitious and very different projects, Die Nibelungen (Part One: Siegfried, Part Two: Kriemhilds Rache [Kriemhild's Revenge], 1924), a powerful rendition of the old Germanic myth, and Metropolis (1926), a striking vision of the city of the future and its social relations. These films showed Lang in full command of his theme and technique and established his reputation as a major director in Germany and abroad. In their tendency to abstraction, stylization of form, anonymity of character, and "architectural" use of human figures, they adopted elements of German Expressionism, but as a whole Lang had developed his own unmistakably individual style. He put his early training as an architect and painter to superb use and showed an attention to detail and a perfectionism which would remain characteristic of all his work, as would his ability to create a mood on screen. The French directors of the Nouvelle Vague would later admire him as the great master of "mise en scène."

Another story about a criminal, Die Spione (Spies) (1928), and another futuristic tale, Die Frau im Mond (Woman in the Moon) (1929), were Lang's last silent films. His first sound picture, M (1931), immediately made excellent use of the new medium to heighten atmosphere and tension and became a classic, the prototype of murder-mystery which, in addition to providing the suspense of a chase, also explores the mind of the killer and the problems of guilt and punishment.

Lang's second Mabuse film, Das Testament von Dr. Mabuse (The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse) (1933) could not be shown in Germany. It suggested parallels between the criminal, who dominated others even from inside an insane asylum, and Adolf Hitler, the new ruler of Germany, which were not missed by the Nazis. Still, because of his earlier films which Hitler admired, Lang was offered an important position in the Nazi film industry. His response was to leave the country immediately for Paris. There he received an offer to do a film version of Ferenc Molnar's play Liliom (1934) and successfully transposed the setting from the original Vienna to Paris.

American Films: 1936-1956

In 1934 Lang left Europe for Hollywood with a contract from Metro Goldwyn Meyer (MGM) already in his pocket. Yet the new start—and indeed Lang's whole career in the United States under the unaccustomed pressures of the American studio system and eventual blacklisting during the McCarthy era—were rocky. He had trouble getting to make his first film for MGM (Fury, 1936) and then moved from studio to studio, quickly gaining the reputation of being a difficult director—too demanding, too perfectionist. To avoid unemployment he was often forced to take whatever work he could get. Still, judged by the impulses it gave him and by the films it produced, Lang's American period was highly successful.

Fury was followed by You Only Live Once (1937), considered a model for Bonnie and Clyde, and You and Me (1938), both also illustrating the solid grasp of vital aspects of American life which the newcomer had taken pains to acquire. The next assignments were Westerns, The Return of Frank James (1940) and Western Union (1941), to which Lang gave his own stamp. At the outbreak of World War II he turned to anti-Nazi films expressing his own hatred and disdain: Man Hunt (1941), Hangmen Also Die (1943), Ministry of Fear (1944), and Cloak and Dagger (1946). In 1950 Lang came out with one more war film, An American Guerilla in the Philippines, with the Japanese as the enemy, and in 1952 with one more Western, probably his best, Rancho Notorious.

With the exception of Moonfleet (1955, in its historical setting an unusual film for the American period), Lang concentrated all his energies during the last war years and the rest of the 1940s and most of the 1950s on his old interest in mysteries and the workings of the human psyche: The Woman in the Window (1944), Scarlet Street (1945), Secret Beyond the Door (1948), House by the River (1950), Clash by Night (1952), The Blue Gardenia (1953), The Big Heat (1953), Human Desire (1954), While the City Sleeps (1956), and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956). These films reflect Lang's social awareness and include some of his best American work.

German Films Again: 1959-1960

By 1956 Lang had become increasingly frustrated with Hollywood and decided to quit its studios. Thus the offer from a German producer to film Der Tiger von Eschnapur (The Tiger of Bengal) and its sequel Das indische Grabmal (The Hindu Tomb) (1959), based on a scenario he and The a von Harbou had written in the early 1920s, was most welcome. Their fairy tale splendor made these movies a popular success in post-war Germany, while French critics and directors (for example, Godard and Chabrol) admired their lucidity and formal perfection. Lang's last film as a director was Die tausend Augen des Dr. Mabuse (The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse) (1960), a new variation on his old master criminal. His last film altogether was Jean-Luc Godard's Le Mépris (Contempt) (1960) in which he played the role of a film director by the name of Fritz Lang.

On August 2, 1976, Lang died in Beverly Hills where he had spent his final years.

Assessment

Critical approaches to Lang's work have often tried to distinguish between his German and American periods, not only in terms of the obvious differences in look, image, and rhythm, but also in terms of artistic quality. Some maintain that only the German films up to 1933 deserve acclaim, others argue that these much discussed classics are too self-consciously artistic and therefore not as good as the leaner American films. Such discussions tend to overlook the basic continuity of Lang's work and his ability to adjust his talent to meet the changes in his environment. All his films became, in his own words, "somehow a picture of their time," and they are distinctly "Langian" in their formal symmetry, functional precision, and humane detachment. Although often called an "austere pessimist" Lang ultimately believed what he said in Le Mépris: "Death is no solution."

Further Reading

Lang thought that a director should express himself through his films and not through writing or speaking. Yet he wrote a number of interesting and revealing articles about himself and gave quite a few interviews, particularly later in his life. The most important articles are "Happily Ever After" (from 1948, reprinted in Film Makers on Film Making, edited by Harry Geduld, 1969) and "The Freedom of the Screen" (from 1947, reprinted in Hollywood Directors 1941-1976 by Richard Koszarski, 1977). There are also a few pages of "Autobiography," most accessible in Lotte Eisner's Fritz Lang (1977). In addition, this book, translated from the French, contains a detailed study of all of Lang's films by Eisner, a perceptive film critic and close friend of Lang's.

Other books on Lang and his work are Peter Bogdanovich, Fritz Lang in America (1967); Paul Jensen, The Cinema of Fritz Lang (1969); Robert Armour, Fritz Lang (1977); Frederick Ott, The Films of Fritz Lang (1979); Stephen Jenkins, editor, Fritz Lang: The Image and the Look (London, 1981), and E. Ann Kaplan, Fritz Lang: A Guide to References and Resources (1981), with thorough bibliographies and filmography and a synopsis of each of Lang's films.

Additional Sources

Armour, Robert A., Fritz Lang, Boston: Twayne, 1978.

Schnauber, Cornelius, Fritz Lang in Hollywood, Vienna: Europaverlag, 1986. □

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Lang, Fritz

Fritz Lang (läng), 1890–1976, German-American film director, b. Vienna. His silent and early sound films, notably the iconic masterpiece Metropolis (1926) with its dystopian vision of the future, are marked by brilliant expressionist technique. The film premiered (1927) in Berlin and shortly thereafter was abridged by about 25 minutes; the missing footage was found in the early 21st cent. and restored in 2010. Lang gained worldwide acclaim with M (1933), a study of a child molester and murderer. After directing 15 films, Lang fled Nazi Germany (1933) to avoid collaborating with the government and settled in the United States. His 20 Hollywood films continued his exploration of criminality and the cruel fate that can overtake the unwary. His notable American works include Fury (1936), You Only Live Once (1937), Hangmen Also Die (1943), The Big Heat (1953), and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956).

See studies by P. Bogdanovich (1967), L. Eisner (1972), R. A. Armour (1978), F. W. Ott (1979), S. Jenkins (1981), C. Schnauber (1986), P. McGilligan (1997), and T. Gunning (2000).

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Lang, Fritz

Lang, Fritz (1890–1976) Austrian director of silent and early sound films. His debut feature was Halbblut (1919). Lang's first major success was the two-part crime thriller Dr Mabuse (1922). His best-known film, Metropolis (1926), has become a science-fiction classic. Perhaps his greatest film was his first sound feature, M (1931), an expressionist, psychological thriller. Fleeing Nazism, Lang moved to the USA. His first film in Hollywood was Fury (1936). Later films include The Big Heat (1953) and While the City Sleeps (1956).

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Lang, Fritz

LANG, FRITZ

LANG, FRITZ (1890–1976), Austrian film director and screenwriter; son of a non-Jewish father and a Jewish mother (Pauline Schlesinger) who converted to Catholicism when Lang was 10 years old. Born in Vienna, Lang went to Berlin in 1919 and, after writing screenplays, turned to directing. His reputation was established in 1921 with the allegorical Der Muede Tod (known in English as "Destiny"), which paved the way in film technique by its use of dream effects and decorations. In 1922 he directed Dr. Mabuse, the first of a series of melodramas of that name about a powerful gang leader with fabulous powers of hypnosis. In 1924 he directed Die Nibelungen, in which an invincible hero is overcome by human weakness. His film Metropolis (1926), for which he wrote the screenplay, was about automaton-like labor in the year 2000. In 1931 he shot his most successful German film, M, which he also wrote. A year after his Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (1932), Lang was approached by Joseph Goebbels with the proposition of putting him in charge of Nazi films. That same evening Lang, fearing that his Jewish origin would become known, fled to France and later to the U.S., where he went to work for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1934, and was reduced to screenwriting for some time. His reputation was reestablished with his two socially conscious films Fury (which he also wrote, 1936) and You Only Live Once (1937). He later turned to directing more popular films, including several westerns (e.g., Western Union (1940)) and anti-Nazi films. One of his successful later films was The Woman in the Window (1944). Lang's films are characterized by a pervasively dark and hostile atmosphere, fraught with sinister characters and a cynical view of the world. In many cases, the titles of the films themselves already herald the sense of foreboding. Such films include Harakiri (1919); Ministry of Fear (1944); The Big Heat (1953); Human Desire (1954); Moonfleet (1955); and While the City Sleeps (1956). Lang's book, Saint Cinema: Writings on Film 19291970, which he co-authored with Herman Weinberg, was published in 1980.

bibliography:

P.M. Jensen, The Cinema of Fritz Lang (1969), includes "filmography." add. bibliography: B. Grant (ed.), Fritz Lang: Interviews (2003).

[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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Lang, Fritz

Fritz Lang

Personal

Born December 5, 1890, in Vienna, Austria; died August 2, 1976, in Beverly Hills, CA; immigrated to United States, 1934; naturalized U.S. citizen, 1939; son of Anton (an architect) and Paula (Schlesinger) Lang; married Thea von Harbou (a novelist and screenwriter), 1920 (divorced, 1933). Education: Attended College of Technical Science (Vienna, Austria), 1908, and Academy of Graphic Arts (Munich, Germany), 1911; studied painting in Paris, France, 1912-14.

Career

Screenwriter, director, and producer. Decla Bioscop Company (later merged with UFA), Berlin, Germany, 1918-34, began as story reader, became director; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Hollywood, CA, director, 1934-37. Also founded several independent film companies. Director of films: You Only Live Once, 1937; (and producer) You and Me, 1938; The Return of Frank James, 1940; Western Union, 1941; Man Hunt, 1941; (co-director) Confirm or Deny, 1941; (co-director) Moontide, 1942; Ministry of Fear, 1944; The Woman in the Window, 1944; (and producer) Scarlet Street, 1945; Cloak and Dagger, 1946; (and co-producer) Secret beyond the Door, 1948; House by the River, 1950; An American Guerrilla in the Philippines, 1950; Rancho Notorious, 1952; Clash by Night, 1952; The Blue Gardenia, 1953; The Big Heat, 1953; Human Desire, 1954; Moonfleet, 1955; While the City Sleeps, 1956; and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, 1956. Military service: Served in Austrian Army during World War I; became lieutenant; wounded in action three times.

Awards, Honors

Order of the Yugoslavian Flag with golden wreath, 1971; honorary professorship from University of Vienna, 1973; Sorrento Film Festival honor, 1973, as "best German film director"; Commander's Cross Order of Merit and Golden Ribbon Motion Picture Art Award, both from Federal Republic of Germany; named officer, French Order of Arts and Letters.

Writings

SCREENPLAYS

Die Hochzeit im Ekzentrikklub (title means "Wedding in the Club of the Eccentrics"), Decla, 1917.

Hilde Warren und der Tod (title means "Hilde Warren and Death"), Decla, 1917.

Joe Debbs, Decla, 1917.

Die Rache ist mein (title means "Revenge Is Mine"), Decla, 1918.

Herren der Welt (title means "Men of the World"), Decla, 1918.

Bettler GmbH, Decla, 1918.

(Co-author) Wolkenbau und Flimmerstern (title means "Castles in the Sky and Rhinestones"), Decla, 1919.

Totentanz (title means "Dance of Death"), Decla, 1919.

Die Pest in Florenz (title means "Plague in Florence"), Decla, 1919.

Die Frau mit den Orchiden (title means "The Woman with the Orchid"), Decla, 1919.

Lilith und Ly, Decla, 1919.

(And director) Halbblut, Decla, 1919, released in English version as The Weakling.

(And director) Die Spinnen, Decla, Part 1: Der goldene See, 1919, Part 2: Das Brillantenschiff, 1919, released in English version as The Spiders, 1978.

(And director) Liliom, produced in France, 1934.

(With Bartlett Cormick; and director) Fury, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1936.

(With Bertolt Brecht; and director and producer) Hangmen Also Die!, United Artists, 1943.

(Co-author; and director and producer) Die tausend Augen des Dr. Mabuse, Ajay Films, 1960, released in English version as The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (also known as Eye of Evil), 1960.

SCREENPLAYS; WITH WIFE, THEA VON HARBOU

(And director) Das wandernde Bild (title means "The Wandering Image"), Decla, 1920.

(And director) Kampfende Herzen, Decla, 1920.

(And director) Der muede Tod: Ein deutsches Volkslied in 6 Versen, Decla, 1921, released in English version as Between Two Worlds (also known as Destiny and The Three Lights), 1923.

Das indische Grabmal, Joe May Company/EFA, Part 1: Die Sendung des Yoghi, Part 2: Der Tiger von Eschnapur, 1921, remade by Lang as Der Tiger von Eschnapur and Das Indische Gr59, edited English version released as Journey to the Lost City (also known as Tiger of Bengal), American-International, 1959.

(And director) Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler Ullstein-UCO Films/UFA, Part 1: Ein Bild der Zeit, 1921, Part 2: Inferno-Menschen der Zeit, 1922, released in English as Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, 1922.

(And director) Die Nibelungen, Part 1: Siegfrieds Tod (title means "Death of Siegfried"), Part 2: Kriemhilds Rache (title means "Kriemhild's Revenge"), UFA, 1924.

(And director) Metropolis (produced by UFA, 1927, released by Paramount, 1927, re-released, 2002), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1970.

(And director and producer) Spione, Fritz Lang Film/UFA, 1928, released in English as Spies (also known as The Spy), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1928.

(And director and producer) Die Frau im Mond, Fritz Lang Film/UFA, 1929, released in English as Woman in the Moon (also known as The Girl in the Moon and By Rocket to the Moon), 1929.

(And director) M (produced by Nero-Film, 1931, released by Paramount, 1933), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1968.

(And director) Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse, Nero-Film, 1933, released in English as The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse, 1935.

OTHER

Die Untersuchungschaft im Jugendstrafverfahren: unter besonderer Berucksichtigung der Ostschweizer Kantone (Zurich, Glarus, Schaffhausen, Appenzell, Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden, St. Gallen, Graubunden und Thurgau, Schulthess (Zurich, Switzerland), 1979.

Der Tod eines Karrieregirls und andere Geschichten (stories), Europaverlag (Vienna, Austria), 1987.

Des Berg des Aberglaubens und andere Geschichten (stories), Europaverlag (Vienna, Austria), 1988.

Barry Keith, editor, Fritz Lang: Interviews, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 2003.

Lang's work has been translated into French.

Adaptations

Metropolis was adapted as a stage musical and produced in London in March 1989.

Sidelights

Considered one of the cinema's preeminent directors, Fritz Lang specialized in films of suspense, conflict, and violence. His intense, no-frills narrative pace and striking visual sense were enormously influential in the adventure, science-fiction, and thriller film genres. Lang also played a major role in shaping two national cinemas: the German during the 1920s and early 1930s, and the American during the 1940s and 1950s. Among Lang's best known films are Metropolis, a science-fiction vision of a fu-ture dystopia, M a study of a child killer, and the "Dr. Mabuse" films, which feature a decadent mastermind of the criminal underworld. He also directed such popular suspense and crime movies as Scarlet Street, Fury, The Big Heat, and Ministry of Fear. Lang's own life, marked by war, political violence, and intrigue, was sometimes as dramatic as his cinematic work.

Born in Vienna, Austria, on December 5, 1890, to Anton and Paula Lang, Fritz grew up in middle-class comfort. Always a visual person, his most important early impressions were of the Christmas fair in his native city. He also loved the theater and read a great deal, both popular and more demanding literature and philosophy. Expected to take up his father's profession as a municipal architect, Lang enrolled at the Technische Hochschule of Vienna, but did not stay long. In 1910 he left his native Austria to travel around Europe, North Africa, and Asia, supporting himself by doing odd jobs and by selling his drawings to newspapers and magazines. Eventually he settled in Paris to study painting. During an exhibition of his paintings in Paris in 1914, Lang was informed that World War I had broken out. He was obliged to flee France, which was now at war with Austria, or face arrest as an alien. He escaped on the last train to Vienna, made his way back home, and joined the Austrian Army. Over the next two years he served at the front, where he was wounded in action three times.

While spending a year in a Viennese hospital recovering from a severe war injury that cost him his sight in one eye, Lang began to write scripts, short stories, and ideas for films to pass the time. His work caught the attention of director Joe May at Decla Bioscop, a major German film studio. May bought and directed several of Lang's filmscripts. After recuperating from his injuries, Lang went to Berlin to work for Decla as a script reader, rising quickly to become a scenario writer. He also did some acting for the studio, including the role of Death in his own film Hilde Warren und der Tod.

Little evidence remains of Lang's earliest work in Berlin. He scripted films for May and Otto Rippert and he acted in minor roles. By 1919 Lang was also directing films for Decla. His second directing effort, Die Spinnen, later released in English as The Spiders, is an adventure serial featuring a playboy detective who uncovers an international criminal conspiracy. The action takes place in the last remaining Incan temple in South America, in a secret cavern city hidden beneath San Francisco, and in a score of other exotic locales. Vincent Canby, reviewing the film for the New York Times, noted that The Spiders has "dozens of pursuits and last-minute escapes" but is most interesting for its "matter-of-fact suggestion that paranoia is sanity." Die Spinnen proved to be hugely popular with German audiences.

Forms Film-writing Team

In 1920 Lang married Thea von Harbou, a writer of thrillers and screenplays. From then until their divorce in 1933 the couple wrote screenplays as a team, with Lang directing many of the scripts. His wife also wrote novelizations of some of their films. Their first successful collaboration was Der muede Tod: Ein deutsches Volkslied in 6 Versen, released to English-speaking audiences as Between Two Worlds. Told in three episodes, the film presents variations on the same story of a young woman attempting to save her lover from death. Set in different historical periods, all three episodes lead "to the same conclusion: all the girl's efforts to save her lover lead him to his destruction," as Lotte H. Eisner wrote in The Haunted Screen: Expressionism in the German Cinema and the Influence of Max Reinhardt. Eisner was especially impressed with Lang's use of lighting to accentuate architectural details and his "intense feeling for the physical character of objects." In his review of the film for the Spectator, Bertram Higgins found it to be "one of the most original and impressive films that have ever been made."

With Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler, released in English as Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, Lang turned to the crime genre for inspiration, recounting the evil machinations of a master criminal. Yet Dr. Mabuse is not alone in his criminality; the society of his time is also criminal. As Siegfried Kracauer commented in his From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film, in the film "the world … has fallen prey to lawlessness and depravity. A nightclub dancer performs in a decor composed of outright sex symbols. Orgies are an institution, homosexuals and prostitute children are everyday characters…. Throughout the film Mabuse is stigmatized as a man of genius who has become Public Enemy No. 1…. [But when] Mabuse is wrecked … social depravity continues, and other Mabuses may follow."

The world of Dr. Mabuse is Lang's biting depiction of post-war German society, which was plagued by economic chaos, a loss of values, and political extremism. The first part of the two-part film is subtitled Image of Our Times, while the second part is sub-titled Men of Our Times. German critics of the 1920s "recognized the unflattering but authentic reflection of their own day, of the inflation of the mad lost years when every vice and passion was rife," according to Eisner.

With Die Nibelungen Lang turned from contemporary society to the heroic past of German mythology. Like the "Dr. Mabuse" films, Die Nibelungen is a two-part film; audiences were expected to view it on two consecutive evenings. And also like the "Dr. Mabuse" films, it had a particular relevance for the German society of the post-war years. Talking with Gene D. Phillips for the Village Voice—the last interview he gave before his death in 1976—Lang explained his reasons for filming Die Nibelungen. "By making the Siegfried legend into a film," he said, "I wanted to show that Germany was searching for an ideal in her past, even during the horrible time after the First World War in which the picture was made."

Based on a thirteenth-century German saga, Die Nibelungen recounts the adventures of such mythical characters as Siegfried, Brunhild, and Kriemhild. Knights, castles, sword fights, dragons, and beautiful maidens abound in the story. In creating certain scenes, Lang borrowed liberally from classic German paintings of these mythological tales, especially from the works of Arnold Boecklin. At times, in fact, the film seems to be a Boecklin painting come-to-life. Other scenes are designed so well by Lang that, according to Eisner, if stopped at the right moment they "might well be paintings in their own right."

Lang placed a heavy emphasis on creating a majestic mood in Die Nibelungen. When filming scenes in castles or cathedrals, he grouped actors in symmetrical patterns to create striking visual effects and an almost ceremonial atmosphere, and he subdued the dramatic element to accentuate the visual one. Speaking of the film in a review for the Spectator, Iris Barry noted that the film's actors behaved "with the passionlessness and dignity of actors in a pageant." Barry also reported that, for Lang, "the visual beauty of a film is just as important as its dramatic economy and effectiveness," and she found Lang's "use of tone, of sharp black and clear white and clean silver, … [to be] very accomplished and lovely." Writing in his book The Film Till Now, Paul Rotha ranked Between Two Worlds and Die Nibelungen as "supreme examples of the German art film."

Looks into the Future

After depicting the contemporary world in Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler and the world of the mythological past in Die Nibelungen, Lang turned with Metropolis to the world of the next century. In this future world, men have built Metropolis, a glittering city reaching to the sky. But far below this city lies a subterranean factory town where dehumanized workers operate complex and dangerous machines. Those who work in the factory are not permitted to come to the surface, where the factory director and his family enjoy the sunshine, fresh air, and the beauty of vast pleasure gardens. When the girl Maria calls for justice and understanding for the workers, she gains the support of the factory director's son, who joins the rebellion. During the en-suing revolt, the workers wreck their machines and the factory director deliberately floods the cavern city.

A lengthy film, Metropolis remains the most detailed vision of the future that the silent film era created. It was, according to Evelyn Gerstein in the Nation, "the first time the chill mechanized world of the future [had] been given reality." Lang's studio spent an unprecedented two million dollars on the film, building gigantic sets and hiring scores of extras. The scenes set in the underground factory, especially those in which workers move the hands of giant clock-like dials in a dark and foggy room, would become the inspiration for many later film sets. Shot in stark contrasts with lighting that lends a night-marish quality to the film, Metropolis is recognized as a milestone in cinema.

Although Metropolis was a successful film, Lang was not happy with it. The conciliatory ending between the factory director and the rebellious workers was forced on him by his wife, who co-wrote the script, and by the studio. The work's subsequent reputation as one of Adolf Hitler's favorite films further dampened Lang's enthusiasm for it. And he was bothered, too, that some of the dehumanizing factory conditions shown in the film later came true. Speaking to Peter Bogdanovich in Fritz Lang in America, Lang commented: "Should I say now that I like Metropolis because something I have seen in my imagination comes true—when I detested it after it was finished?"

A Child Killer on the Loose

Lang's last German film was M, the story of a psychopathic child killer who is eventually tracked down by both the police and the underworld. The story was inspired by the real-life child killer known as the Düsseldorf Monster, who terrorized Germany in the 1920s. In Lang's treatment, the killer is portrayed as horrifying and pathetic by turns. As William Troy noted in the Nation, "No subject could be more inherently horrible, more dangerously open to a facile sensationalism of treatment. Yet such are the tact and the genius with which Fritz Lang has handled it that the result is something at once more significant than either the horror story, pure and simple …, or the so-called psychological 'document'…. The result is, in fact, a film which answers to most of the demands of classical tragedy."

The first "talkie" to be made in Germany, M uses sound sparingly and with poignant effect. For example, when the killer's shadow drifts across the screen toward that of a little girl, the camera cuts to an empty dinner table and then back to the now-empty street where the killer and girl had been standing. All the while, the cries of the mother calling for her daughter are heard over the soundtrack. The cries become more urgent as the camera cuts rapidly between the two empty settings. Then, where the killer and girl had stood, Lang shows only a floating balloon, the device the murderer used to initially make the girl's acquaintance. The balloon drifts off aimlessly until it gets tangled in an overhead telegraph wire.

Played by actor Peter Lorre, who attained international recognition for his role, the murderer is "a somewhat infantile petty bourgeois who eats apples on the street and could not possibly be suspected of killing a fly," according to Kracauer. Lang reveals the killer's inner dementia through what Kracauer called "a brilliant pictorial device," that of surrounding him on several occasions with scores of inanimate objects which threaten to engulf him. These "mute objects" symbolize "the ascendancy of irrational powers," Kracauer explained, and define the murderer as "a prisoner of uncontrollable instincts."

Lang's film follows the murderer from his room, where he fights against but finally succumbs to his abhorrent desires, then out into the streets to stalk children, and ultimately to being stalked in turn by both the police and the underworld. M builds to a tense sequence during which the killer is trapped in an empty office building at night while search parties scour the labyrinth of rooms for him. It has been called one of the most chilling climaxes in cinema history.

Gavin Lambert saw M as a culmination of Lang's early cinematic themes. Writing in Sight and Sound, Lambert found that Dr. Mabuse, the Rogue, The Spi-ders, and Lang's The Spy express the "idea of [a] demonic, almost abstract, power-organisation determined purposelessly to overthrow human society by acts of outrage and violence…. Finally, in M, the horrific life-and-death struggle is embodied in a single character, the child-murderer wretchedly trying to escape from his impulses and hallucinations. These films are not only Lang's most original and lasting achievements of his German period, but remain the most haunting melodramas of the cinema."

Soon after finishing M Lang was called to a meeting with Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. Impressed with Lang's film work, and unaware of his political sympathies, Goebbels offered him the job of chief Nazi filmmaker. Lang agreed to think it over. Returning home, however, he immediately packed his bags and left for Paris. Lang was motivated to leave the country as much by his political beliefs as by his fear that the Nazis would discover his Jewish heritage. He left behind his wife, von Harbou, who had recently joined the Nazi Party. As Andrew Sarris reported in the Village Voice, she "devoted herself thereafter to the Nazi cause," and the couple divorced in 1933.

Heads for Hollywood

After a short time in France, Lang left for Hollywood to work with David O. Selznick of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He was to direct only one film for MGM, the critically acclaimed Fury in 1936, before leaving to freelance for a number of different studios. Lang also set up several film production companies of his own; his dislike for Hollywood's rules often pushed him to finance his own work. Lang's insistence upon extensive preparation before the making of a film, a common practice among German filmmakers, ran counter to the more casual Hollywood ethos. Among film-industry insiders Lang was known as a "difficult" director, a charge he contemptuously dismissed. In speaking with Mary Blume, he explained: "Difficult! Do you know what that means? It means you're a perfectionist. Hollywood hates perfectionists."

Over the next few decades Lang directed a number of successful Hollywood films which continue to be held in high esteem by critics. These films include Ministry of Fear, The Woman in the Window, Scarlet Street, House by the River, Rancho Notorious, The Big Heat, and Human Desire. His work ranged over the crime, western, and thriller genres. But some observers ranked his American films among Lang's lesser work, preferring the silent films he made in Germany in the 1920s. These silent films, they argued, broke new ground and set standards that influenced scores of other filmmakers, while Lang's later efforts, although commendable, are necessarily more conventional. In Germany, too, Lang was able to direct his own scripts, while in America he was often obliged to direct the scripts of studio writers. In her study Fritz Lang Eisner claimed that "it is an academic question … whether Lang's German films or his American period are to be valued more highly…. There is doubtless, a profound difference in perspective, but there is also a firm continuity of vision."

Lang's cinematic vision is commented on by several critics who discern a consistent outlook in all of the director's films, whether made in Germany or America. "Lang's films," Eisner wrote in Fritz Lang, "like those of every great cinema creator, reveal a profound underlying unity." In Lang's films "character determines human fate: character is the demon of man. All Lang's American films will demonstrate this belief, with their recurrent questions: Where does guilt begin? What is innocence? What is good and what is evil?" Lambert claimed that "Fritz Lang's America is not essentially different from Fritz Lang's Germany …; it is less openly macabre, its crime and terror exist on a comparatively realistic level, but both countries are really another country, a haunted place in which the same dramas constantly recur…. It is this persistent imaginative projection of an anxiety neurosis that gives Lang's films their unique power." Robert A. Armour saw a similar theme in Lang's films, stating in his Fritz Lang: "The dark struggles within and among his characters become statements of the dark side of our own personalities…. He understood how each of us is driven and confused by these conflicts. In the final analysis Fritz Lang was a first-rate entertainer who never allowed us to lose sight of his message. The dark struggle is a worthy theme, a theme that gives meaning to the visual images that dominate the films of Fritz Lang."

French director François Truffaut, writing in his The Films in My Life, attributed the dark vision of Lang's American films to the director's personal history. "Lang had to get out of Germany quickly in the face of Nazism," Truffaut wrote. "From then on, all of his work … will reflect this violent break." Many of Lang's Hollywood films are concerned with revenge, Truffaut pointed out, and tell stories of individuals who fight back after suffering a personal loss; this, Truffaut believed, is a reflection of Lang's own feelings after leaving Germany. By the 1950s Lang's films had become, according to Truffaut, "the bitterest in the history of film." Sarris explained that Lang was "never the sunny optimist … Lang prowled in the dark corners of the soul where destiny collided with depravity." The director openly acknowledged his obsession with the darker side of human nature. "I am profoundly fascinated by cruelty, fear, horror and death," he once said. "My films show my preoccupation with violence, the pathology of violence."

If you enjoy the works of Fritz Lang

If you enjoy the works of Fritz Lang, you may also want to check out the following:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1920, Nosferatu the Vampire, 1922, and other films from the German Expressionist period.

In the late 1950s Lang returned to Germany to make several films, including Die tausend Augen des Dr. Mabuse, released in English as The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse. He also travelled to India to remake Der Tiger von Eschnapur and Das indische Grabmal, two films originally written with von Harbou in the early 1920s. An English version of the film, drastically edited by the distributor, was released in the United States as Journey to the Lost City. These last films were not critically appreciated. After appearing as himself in French director Jean Luc-Godard's Contempt in 1963, Lang retired from the film business to live quietly in Beverly Hills, California. From then until the time of his death in 1976, his films underwent a revival among film aficionados. Many of his long-unavailable silent films were subsequently released in the United States, while German filmmakers came to a new appreciation of his role in German cinematic history. In 1973 Lang was given a special award by the Sorrento Film Festival as "the best German film director."

John Russell Taylor, writing in Sight and Sound, quoted Lang as once saying, "I live through my eyes." Taylor went on to remark that "in the end it is [Lang's] power to embody his ideas visually which accounts for the lasting effect of his films." Upon Lang's death in 1976, a Newsweek contributor remembered him as a member of "the golden age of German expressionist films" who had "influenced hundreds of fellow directors." In an appreciation of Lang's career, Truffaut remarked that the director "was not only a genius, he was also the most isolated and the least understood of contemporary filmmakers."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Armour, Robert A., Fritz Lang, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1978.

Aurich, Rolf, Wolfgang Jacobsen, and Cornelius Schnauber, Fritz Lang: Photographs and Documents, Vienna-Berlin-Paris-Hollywood, Jovis, 2001.

Bogdanovich, Peter, Fritz Lang in America, Praeger (New York, NY), 1969.

Clarens, Carlos, Crime Movies, Norton (New York, NY), 1980.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 20, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1982.

Eisner, Lotte H., The Haunted Screen: Expressionism in the German Cinema and the Influence of Max Reinhardt, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1969.

Eisner, Lotte H., Fritz Lang, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1977.

Gunning, Tom, The Films of Fritz Lang: Allegories of Vision and Modernity, British Film Institute (London, England), 2000.

Humphries, Reynold, Fritz Lang: Genre and Representation in His American Films, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1989.

Hunter, William, Scrutiny of Cinema, Wishart (London, England), 1932.

Jenkins, Stephen, editor, Fritz Lang: The Image and the Look, British Film Institute (London, England), 1981.

Jensen, Paul M., The Cinema of Fritz Lang, A. S. Barnes (New York, NY), 1968.

Kaes, Anton, M, British Film Institute (London, England), 2000.

Kaplan, E. Ann, Fritz Lang: A Guide to References and Resources, G. K. Hall, 1981.

Keith, Barry, editor, Fritz Lang: Interviews, University Press of Mississippi (Jackson, MS), 2003.

Kracauer, Siegfried, From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1947.

Levin, David J., Richard Wagner, Fritz Lang, and the Nibelungen, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1998.

McArthur, Colin, The Big Heat, British Film Institute (London, England), 1992.

McGilligan, Patrick, Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast, St. Martins Press (New York, NY), 1997.

Minden, Michael, and Holger Bachmann, editors, Fritz Lang's Metropolis: Cinematic Visions of Technology and Fear, Camden House, 2002.

Ott, Frederick, The Films of Fritz Lang, Citadel Press, 1979.

Rotha, Paul, The Film till Now, J. Cape (London, England), 1930.

Schnauber, Cornelius, Fritz Lang in Hollywood, Europaverlag (Vienna, Austria), 1986.

Truffaut, François, The Films in My Life, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1978.

PERIODICALS

Bright Lights Film Journal, January, 2000, Jans B. Wager, "Percolating Paranoia: The Big Heat"; November, 2002, Robert Castle, "Fritz Lang's Assumption Factory."

Chicago Reader, August 16, 2002, Jonathan Rosenbaum, "Unified Theory"; December 6, 2002, Jonathan Rosenbaum, "Prewar Jitters."

Christian Century, September 25, 2002, Steve Vineberg, review of Metropolis, p. 48.

CineAction, summer, 2003, Andrew Klevan, "The Purpose of Plot and the Place of Joan Bennett in Fritz Lang's The Woman in the Window," p. 15.

Cineaste, winter, 2003, Catherine Russell, review of Metropolis, p. 70; spring, 2005, Chris Fujiwara, "The Testaments of Fritz Lang," p. 38.

Cinetracts, fall, 1978, Noel Carroll, "Lang, Pabst, and Sound"; spring, 1981, Noel Burch, "Notes on Fritz Lang's First Mabuse."

Entertainment Weekly, November 19, 2004, Edward Karam, "Fritz Lang," p. 70.

Film Comment, March, 1973, Roger Greenspun, "The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse"; November-December, 1990, Peter Hoague, "Fritz Lang, Our Contemporary," pp. 9-12; July-August, 1995, Geoffrey O'Brien, "Fritz Lang's Spies," pp. 66-69.

Film Criticism, spring, 1997, Walter Metz, "Keep the Coffee Hot, Hugo: Nuclear Trauma in Lang's The Big Heat."

Film History, Volume 4, number 4, 1990, Nick Smedley, "Fritz Lang Outfoxed: The German Genius as Contract Employee," pp. 289-304.

Film Quarterly, winter, 1979-80, Dan Willis, "Fritz Lang: Only Melodrama," pp. 2-11.

Films and Filming, June, 1962.

Films in Review, June, 1956, Henry Hart, "Fritz Lang Today."

Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television, October, 1998, Jurgen Schebera, "Hangmen Also Die!: Hollywood's Brecht-Eisler Collaboration."

Journal of Contemporary Thought, summer, 2001, Walter Metz, "A Very Notorious Ranch, Indeed: Fritz Lang, Allegory, and the Holocaust."

Journal of Value Inquiry, December, 1995, Dan Shaw, "Lang Contra Vengeance: The Big Heat."

Liberation, July, 1981, Serge Daney, "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt."

Midnight Marquee, fall-winter, 1998-99, David Kalat, "The Strange Case of Dr Mabuse."

Nation, March 23, 1927; April 19, 1933.

New York Times, November 8, 1979.

Senses of Cinema, June, 2001, Sam Ishii-Gonzales, "The Blue Gardenia"; July-August, 2002, Girish Shambu, "The Woman in the Window."

Sight and Sound, spring, 1950; summer, 1954; spring, 1955; summer, 1955; autumn, 1955; winter, 1961-62; summer, 1962; summer, 1967, Axel Madsen, "Lang," pp. 109-112; autumn, 1975, David L. Overbey, "Fritz Lang's Career Girl," pp. 240-243; spring, 1977; autumn, 1977; January, 2000, Thomas Elsaesser, "Fritz Lang: The Illusion of Mastery."

Spectator, February 23, 1924; June 14, 1924; March 26, 1927.

Sub-stance, Number 9, 1974, Raymond Bellour, "On Fritz Lang."

Village Voice, August 16, 1976.

Wide Angle, Number 3, 1979, Lucy Fischer, "Dr. Mabuse and Mr. Lang."

ONLINE

British Film Institute Web site, http://www.bfi.org.uk/ (April 20, 2005), "Fritz Lang: Master of Darkness."

OrbitalReviews.com, http://www.orbitalreviews.com/ (April 20, 2005), Jonathan L. Bowen, review of Metropolis.

SensesofCinema.com, http://www.sensesofcinema.com/ (April 20, 2005), Daniel Shaw, "Fritz Lang."

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