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Archive for March 24th, 2011

Director: Fritz Lang

Producer: Robert Arthur

Screenwriter: Sydney Boehm

Cinematographer: Charles Lang

Music: Henry Vars

Studio: Columbia Pictures 1953

Main Acting: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, and Lee Marvin

How do Fritz Lang’s American films stack up to those that he directed in Germany? In his homeland, he had access to enormous budgets which afforded him the possibility of producing expansive pictures with breathtaking visuals. German film studio UFA spared no expense when it came to giving Lang the tools to create cinematic marvels. Watching movies such as Metropolis, Die Nibelungen, and Der Mude Tod is like witnessing the early development of summer blockbuster filmmaking except it’s been crafted by someone with intelligence and artistic integrity. Lang’s career in the United States was much different. He never developed the following or reputation of someone like Hitchcock. His time in Hollywood failed to materialize any opportunities for the mounting of handsome large-scale productions. Lavish, glossy features were not in his future and he even had to contend with the realty of occasionally producing some of his films independently. This lower, less ambitious working scale has lead many to dismiss or unfavorably compare Lang’s American films to those he directed in Germany. To read many older historians tell it, Lang never reached anywhere near the same prominence in his new country as he did back in Europe. I personally disagree with this view. While M, The Testament Of Dr Mabuse, and Metropolis may very well be Lang’s three best features, he did more than enough substance while in North America. Besides the two noirs featured in this countdown (and about three I left out partially only so Lang wouldn’t run amuck), he also directed rewarding works like Fury, You Only Live Once, and Rancho Notorious. This next selection, The Big Heat, is perhaps the pinnacle of Fritz Lang’s work in the USA. (more…)

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