Fritz Lang

"Of all the continental refugees, Lang adapted most naturally to America. The films he made there match his greatest because he found a studio system better organised and more adept at narrative genres. Between Fury and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt there is an achievement still not appreciated in English-speaking circles." - David Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2002)

Fritz Lang

Director / Screenwriter / Producer
(1890-1976) Born December 5, Vienna, Austria-Hungary (now Austria)
Top 250 Directors

Key Production Countries: USA, Germany, France
Key Genres: Film Noir, Drama, Crime Drama, Thriller, Crime, Police Detective Film, Psychological Thriller, Melodrama, Psychological Drama, Adventure, Master Criminal Films, Fantasy
Key Collaborators: Thea von Harbou (Screenwriter), Rudolf Klein-Rogge (Leading Character Actor), Otto Hunte (Production Designer), Dan Seymour (Character Actor), Theodor Loos (Leading Character Actor), Karl Vollbrecht (Production Designer), Joan Bennett (Leading Actress), Fritz Arno Wagner (Cinematographer), Sylvia Sidney (Leading Actress), Günther Rittau (Cinematographer), Carl Hoffmann (Cinematographer), Walter Wischniewsky (Editor)

"While many associate him, because of Metropolis, with German expressionism, Lang’s visual style became more pared down in his American films, but he remained a strong believer in the power of visual material (especially mise-en-scène). Among his recurrent themes were notions of people being entrapped and of the unforeseen consequences of chance encounters. These can be detected in such films as The Woman in the Window (1944), Scarlet Street (1945), and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956). He also explored the subtleties and ramifications of revenge in his fine police thriller The Big Heat (1953), among other movies." - Brian McDonnell (Encyclopedia of Film Noir, 2007)
"Fritz Lang's cinema is the cinema of the nightmare, the fable, and the philosophical dissertation. Lang's apparent weaknesses are the consequences of his virtues... His characters never develop with any psychological precision, and his world lacks the details of verisimilitude that are so important to realistic critics. However, Lang's vision of the world is profoundly expressed by his visual forms." - Andrew Sarris (The American Cinema, 1968)
"Few directors can have created so many images of entrapment as did Lang during his long, distinguished career. Repeatedly, his protagonists are imprisoned not only by an uncaring society or by their own flawed nature, but by Destiny itself: Lang's stories, which regularly return to the theme of crime and punishment, have the rigorous logic of a philosophical theorem." - Geoff Andrew (The Director's Vision, 1999)
"Lang's continuing obsession with the psychology of human weakness made him the ideal thriller and film noir director, with masterpieces such as The Big Heat (1953), Clash by Night (1953), and While the City Sleeps (1956) to his credit." - Mario Reading (The Movie Companion, 2006)
"Looking upon the world with grim detachment and a strong moral sense, Fritz Lang worked through two careers: in Germany (1919 to 1932) and Hollywood (1936 to 1956)." - Ronald Bergan (Film - Eyewitness Companions, 2006)
"Fascinated by violence, cruelty and the criminal mind, he produced memorable silent epics; after fleeing Nazi germany, he settled in California to direct westerns, thrillers and social dramas with equal distinction." - Chambers Film Factfinder, 2006
"A world of paranoia, fear and evil fills the work of Fritz Lang. His early German films (Dr. Mabuse, 22; Metropolis, 26; M, 31) are subtle, yet striking illustrations of those preoccupations, while later American works (Man Hunt, 41; The Big Heat, 53) are more explosive." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)
"There's something which you should get out from an actor, something which is under his skin, something which he himself maybe doesn't know exactly. I hate - and I never did - to show an actor how to play a role. I don't want to have twenty-five little Fritz Lang's running around. I have too much respect for an actor." - Fritz Lang (Directing the Film, 1976)
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
M (1931) , Fury (1936), You Only Live Once (1937) , The Woman in the Window (1944) ✖︎, Scarlet Street (1945) ✖︎, Secret Beyond the Door (1948) ✖︎, The House by the River (1950), Clash by Night (1952) ✖︎, The Big Heat (1953) ✖︎, While the City Sleeps (1956) ✖︎
Recommended
Destiny (1921) , Die Nibelungen: Siegfried (1924), Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild's Revenge (1924), Metropolis (1927) , Spione (1928) , Western Union (1941), Ministry of Fear (1944) ✖︎, Rancho Notorious (1952), The Blue Gardenia (1953) ✖︎, Human Desire (1954) ✖︎, Moonfleet (1955) , Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) ✖︎, The Tiger of Eschnapur (1958)
Worth a Look
Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler (1922) , Woman in the Moon (1929), The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) , You and Me (1938), The Return of Frank James (1940), Man Hunt (1941), Hangmen Also Die (1943), The Indian Tomb (1958), The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960)
Approach with Caution
Cloak and Dagger (1946)
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
1,000 Greatest Films ✖︎ 1,000 Noir Films
Amazon Products
Films / Books
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