Fritz Lang


Life         

     Friedrich Christian Anton Lang was born on December 5, 1890 in Vienna. He studied art while traveling the world during his college years. He was drafted into World War I in 1914 and by 1918 he was ranked a lieutenant in the military at the time of his release (2). Lang wrote scripts for a short time when he got a job with a German film company. He soon became a director for Nero-Film during the Expressionist movement. Lang co-wrote many of the scripts for his movie with actress and script-writer Thea von Harbou (1). Lang married Harbou in 1924 and they made movies together up until 1933 when the Third Reich moved in. Lang thought that they were tyrants and escaped to America. Lang and Harbou were later divorced in 1934. Harbou stayed in Germany and continued to write and direct movies for the Third Reich. In 1936 Lang was in Hollywood where he continued to make movies for 20 years (2).

 

Career

     Lang had a habit of trying to make all of his films incredibly visually satisfying, in which he usually succeeded. His films were filled with fantasy aspects and had a fantasy type plots(1) although one of his most famous films, M, was based on a real life serial killer in Berlin in the 1930's who was a pedophile and preyed on children. Lang started his film career shortly after WWI when he began writing for a film company called Decla. He wasn't there long before he got a job at Ufa. Later he directed for Nero-Film where he directed Die Spinnen (spiders) (2).Many of Lang's silent films were epics, including his famous film Metropolis, released in 1927. Metropolis actually bankrupt the studio, coming in at a cost of over 5 million marks (which is approximately 3.8 million dollars USD) (1). Metropolis is a great example of Lang's fantasy worlds and his incredible visually appealing films. M was Lang's first film with sound.Lang was known for being hard to work with. For the final scene in M he allegedly threw Peter Lorre down a flight of stairs so that his battered appearance would be more authentic. In the clip below Lang discusses M and Peter Lorre and offers some interesting insight to his views on directing.

 

 

     In 1936 Lang was in Hollywood and was employed by MGM. The first film that he directed for MGM was a crime drama for MGM called Fury. For 21 years Lang continued to make 21 more films. While he was working for MGM Lang also created several independent films. These films were dismissed at first because people thought that they didn't compare to his earlier films. These films have since been reviewed. They are now said to be an important part of the development of American Cinema, especially film-noir. Lang was unable find any production conditions that were to his liking and was tired of trying to get good American backers for his films. Lang was going to retire in the 1950's until a German producer, Artur Brauner was interested in remaking The Indian Tomb. This film was originally written by Lang but was taken for another director to make in the 1920's. Lang was afraid that Artur would remake the film with or without him. Lang came didn't retire and moved back to Germany. Lang's final film was The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse. The reason being is that Lang was going blind when heading into the final stages of the film.

 

 

 

 

Films

Germany

Hilde Warren and Death (Hilde Warren und Der Tod) (1917) Also performer

Harakiri (1919)

Spiders (Die Spinnen) (1919) 

Das Wandernde Bild (1920) Also screenwriter

Destiny (Der Müde Tod(1921) Also screenwriter

The Indian Tomb (Das Indische Grabmal) (1921)

Vier um die Frau (1921) Also screenwriter

Dr Mabuse: The Gambler (Dr Mabuse: Der Spieler(1922)

Die Nibelungen (comprising Siegfried and Kriemhild's Revenge) (1924) Also screenwriter

Metropolis (1926) Also screenwriter

Spies (Spione(1928) Also producer, screenwriter and story

Woman in the Moon (Frau im Mond aka Girl in the Moon aka By Rocket to the Moon(1929) Also producer and co-screenwriter

(1931) Also screenwriter

The Testament of Dr Mabuse (Das Testament Des Dr Mabuse aka The Last Will of Dr Mabuse aka Crimes of Dr Mabuse(1933) Also producer and screenwriter

France

Liliom (1934) Also screenwriter

 

Hollywood

Fury (1936) Also screenwriter

You Only Live Once (1937) 

You and Me (1938) Also producer

The Return of Frank James (1940)

Man Hunt (1941)

Western Union (1941)

Moontide (1942)

Hangmen Also Die (1943) Also producer, adaptation, story

Ministry of Fear (1944)

The Woman in the Window (1944)

Scarlet Street (1945) Also producer

Cloak and Dagger (1946)

Secret Beyond the Door (1948) Also producer

American Guerilla in the Philippines (1950)

The House by the River (1950)

Clash by Night (1952)

Rancho Notorious (1952)

The Big Heat (1953)

The Blue Gardenia (1953)

Human Desire (1954)

Moonfleet (1955)

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956)

While the City Sleeps (1956)

Return to Germany

The Tiger of Eschnapur (Der Tiger von Eschnapur(1958) Also screenwriter

The Indian Tomb (Das Indische Grabmal/Journey to the Lost City) (1959)

The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse (Die Tausend Augen Des Dr Mabuse/Diabolical Dr Mabuse/Secret of Dr Mabuse(1960) Also producer, screenwriter

 

Other

Die Peitsche (1916) Dir: Adolf Gärtner (Screenwriter)

Wedding in the Eccentric Club (Die Hochzeit in Exzentric Club) (1917) Dir: Joe May (Uncredited screenwriter)

Die Bettler – G.M.B.H. (1918) Dir: Alwin Neuß (Screenwriter)

Die Rache ist Mein (1918) Dir: Alwin Neuß (Screenwriter)

Die Frau Mit Den Orchideen (1919) Dir: Otto Rippert (Screenwriter)

Die Pest in Florenz (1919) Dir: Otto Rippert (Screenwriter)

Lilith und Ly (1919) Dir: Erich Kober (Screenwriter)

Mistress of the World (Die Herrin Der Welt) (1919) Dirs: Joseph Klein and Joe May (Assistant Director)

Totentanz (1919) Dir: Otto Rippert (Screenwriter)

Wolkenbau und Flimmerstern (1919) Director unknown (Screenwriter)

M (1951) Dir: Joseph Losey (From original Lang screenplay)

Hollywood Goes A-Fishin' (1953) Documentary (Performer)

Contempt (Le Mepris) (1963) Dir: Jean-Luc Godard (Performer)

Begegnung Mit Fritz Lang (1964) Dir: Peter Fleischmann (Performer)

75 Years of Cinema Museum (1972) Dirs: Roberto Guerra & Elia Hershon (Performer) 

The Exiles (1989) Dir: Richard Kaplan (Performer) 

 

 

 

 

Works Consulted 

(1). "Fritz Lang Information." Colocation | Broadband Wireless | Dedicated Servers | DocSTAR | DSL | Web Hosting | Web Design & Development - Infinity Internet.                Web. 13 Oct. 2009. <http://www.nwlink.com/~erick/silentera/Lang/FLang.html>. (picture also)

(2). "Fritz Lang -." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web. 13 Oct. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fritz_Lang>.

"Fritz Lang.Issue 51, 2009 - Senses of Cinema. Web. 13 Nov. 2009. <http://archive.sensesofcinema.com/contents/directors/02/lang.html>.