The Info List - Fritz Lang

Friedrich Christian Anton "Fritz" Lang (December 5, 1890 – August 2, 1976) was an Austrian-German-American filmmaker, screenwriter, and occasional film producer and actor.[2] One of the best-known émigrés from Germany's school of Expressionism, he was dubbed the "Master of Darkness" by the British Film Institute.[3] His most famous films include the groundbreaking futuristic Metropolis (1927) and the also influential M (1931), a film noir precursor that he made before he moved to the United States.


1 Life and career

1.1 Early life 1.2 Expressionist films: the Weimar years (1918–1933) 1.3 Emigration 1.4 Hollywood
career (1936–1957) 1.5 Death and legacy 1.6 Preservation

2 Filmography 3 References 4 Further reading 5 External links

Life and career[edit] Early life[edit] Lang was born in Vienna
as the second son of Anton Lang (1860–1940),[4] an architect and construction company manager, and his wife Pauline "Paula" Lang née Schlesinger (1864–1920). He was baptized on December 28, 1890, at the Schottenkirche in Vienna.[5] Lang's parents were of Moravian descent [6] and practicing Roman Catholics. His parents (his mother, Jewish
born, converted to Roman Catholicism) took their religion seriously and were dedicated to raising Fritz as a Catholic. Lang frequently had Catholic-influenced themes in his films.[7][8] Late in life, he described himself as "born Catholic".[9] After finishing school, Lang briefly attended the Technical University of Vienna, where he studied civil engineering and eventually switched to art. In 1910 he left Vienna
to see the world, traveling throughout Europe and Africa and later Asia and the Pacific
area. In 1913, he studied painting in Paris, France. At the outbreak of World War I, Lang returned to Vienna
and volunteered for military service in the Austrian army and fought in Russia and Romania, where he was wounded three times. While recovering from his injuries and shell shock in 1916, he wrote some scenarios and ideas for films. He was discharged from the army with the rank of lieutenant in 1918 and did some acting in the Viennese theater circuit for a short time before being hired as a writer at Decla, Erich Pommer's Berlin-based production company. Expressionist films: the Weimar years (1918–1933)[edit] Lang's writing stint was brief, as he soon started to work as a director at the German film studio UFA, and later Nero-Film, just as the Expressionist movement was building. In this first phase of his career, Lang alternated between films such as Der Müde Tod
Der Müde Tod
("The Weary Death") and popular thrillers such as Die Spinnen
Die Spinnen
("The Spiders"), combining popular genres with Expressionist techniques to create an unprecedented synthesis of popular entertainment with art cinema. In 1920, he met his future wife, the writer Thea von Harbou. She and Lang co-wrote all of his movies from 1921 through 1933, including Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler ( Dr. Mabuse the Gambler; 1922), which ran for over four hours in two parts in the original version and was the first in the Dr. Mabuse trilogy, the five-hour Die Nibelungen
Die Nibelungen
(1924), the famous 1927 film Metropolis, and the science fiction film Woman in the Moon (1929). Metropolis went far over budget and nearly destroyed the Ufa which was bought by right-wing businessman and politician Alfred Hugenberg. It was a financial flop as well as his last silent films Spies (1928) and Woman in the Moon
Woman in the Moon
produced by Lang's own company.

Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
and Thea von Harbou
Thea von Harbou
in their Berlin flat, 1923 or 1924

In 1931 independent producer Seymour Nebenzahl hired Lang to direct M for Nero-Film. His first "talking" picture, considered by many film scholars to be a masterpiece of the early sound era, M is a disturbing story of a child murderer ( Peter Lorre
Peter Lorre
in his first starring role) who is hunted down and brought to rough justice by Berlin's criminal underworld. M remains a powerful work; it was remade in 1951 by Joseph Losey, but this version had little impact on audiences, and has become harder to see than the original film. During the climactic final scene in M, Lang allegedly threw Peter Lorre down a flight of stairs in order to give more authenticity to Lorre's battered look. Lang, who was known for being hard to work with, epitomized the stereotype of the tyrannical German film director, a type embodied also by Erich von Stroheim
Erich von Stroheim
and Otto Preminger. His wearing a monocle added to the stereotype. In the films of his German period, Lang produced a coherent oeuvre that established the characteristics later attributed to film noir, with its recurring themes of psychological conflict, paranoia, fate and moral ambiguity. At the end of 1932, Lang started filming The Testament of Dr. Mabuse. Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
came to power in January 1933, and by March 30, the new regime banned it as an incitement to public disorder. Testament is sometimes deemed an anti-Nazi film as Lang had put phrases used by the Nazis into the mouth of the title character. Lang was worried about the advent of the Nazi regime, partly because of his Jewish
heritage,[10] whereas his wife and screenwriter Thea von Harbou had started to sympathize with the Nazis in the early 1930s and joined the NSDAP
in 1940. They soon divorced. Lang's fears would be realized following his departure from Austria, as under the Nuremberg Laws he would be identified as a Jew even though his mother was a converted Roman Catholic, and he was raised as such. Emigration[edit] According to Lang, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
called Lang to his offices to inform him that The Testament of Dr Mabuse
The Testament of Dr Mabuse
was being banned but that he was nevertheless so impressed by Lang's abilities as a filmmaker (especially Metropolis), he was offering Lang a position as the head of German film studio UFA. Lang had stated that it was during this meeting that he had decided to leave for Paris – but that the banks had closed by the time the meeting was over. Lang has stated that he fled that very evening.[11][12][13] This statement has been found wrong after his passport of the time showed that he travelled a few times during 1933 to and from Germany[14], where he got his divorce from Thea von Harbou, who stayed behind, late in 1933.[15] Lang finally left Berlin on 31 July 1933, four months after his meeting with Goebbels and supposed dramatic escape. He moved to Paris.[16] In Paris, Lang filmed a version of Ferenc Molnár's Liliom, starring Charles Boyer. This was Lang's only film in French (not counting the French version of Testament). He then went to the United States.[16] Hollywood
career (1936–1957)[edit]

Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang

In Hollywood, Lang signed first with MGM
Studios. His first American film was the crime drama Fury, which starred Spencer Tracy
Spencer Tracy
as a man who is wrongly accused of a crime and nearly killed when a lynch mob sets fire to the jail where he is awaiting trial. Lang became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1939. He made twenty-three features in his 20-year American career, working in a variety of genres at every major studio in Hollywood, and occasionally producing his films as an independent. Lang's American films were often compared unfavorably to his earlier works by contemporary critics, but the restrained Expressionism of these films is now seen as integral to the emergence and evolution of American genre cinema, film noir in particular. Lang's 1945 film Scarlet Street
Scarlet Street
is considered a central film in the genre. One of his most famous films noir is the police drama The Big Heat (1953), noted for its uncompromising brutality, especially for a scene in which Lee Marvin
Lee Marvin
throws scalding coffee on Gloria Grahame's face. As Lang's visual style simplified, in part due to the constraints of the Hollywood
studio system, his worldview became increasingly pessimistic, culminating in the cold, geometric style of his last American films, While the City Sleeps (1956) and Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956). Finding it difficult to find congenial production conditions and backers in Hollywood, particularly as his health declined with age, Lang contemplated retirement. The German producer Artur Brauner
Artur Brauner
had expressed interest in remaking The Indian Tomb (from an original story by Thea von Harbou, that Lang had developed in the 1920s which had ultimately been directed by Joe May).[17] So Lang returned to Germany,[18] to make his "Indian Epic" (consisting of The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb). Following the production, Brauner was preparing for a remake of The Testament of Dr. Mabuse when Lang approached him with the idea of adding a new original film to the series. The result was The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960), whose success led to a series of new Mabuse films, which were produced by Brauner (including the remake of The Testament of Dr. Mabuse), though Lang did not direct any of the sequels. The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse can be viewed as the marriage between the director's early experiences with expressionist techniques in Germany with the spartan style already visible in his late American work.[citation needed] Lang was approaching blindness during the production,[19] and it was his final project as director. In 1963, he appeared as himself in Jean-Luc Godard's film Contempt. Death and legacy[edit] On February 8, 1960, Lang received a star on the Hollywood
Walk of Fame for his contributions to the motion picture industry, located at 1600 Vine Street.[20][21] Lang died from a stroke in 1976 and was interred in the Forest Lawn – Hollywood
Hills Cemetery in the Hollywood
Hills of Los Angeles.[22][23] While his career had ended without fanfare, his American and later German works were championed by the critics of the Cahiers du cinéma, such as François Truffaut
François Truffaut
and Jacques Rivette. Truffaut wrote that Lang, especially in his American career, was greatly underappreciated by "cinema historians and critics" who "deny him any genius when he 'signs' spy movies ... war movies ... or simple thrillers."[24] Filmmakers that were influenced by his work include Jacques Rivette and William Friedkin.

Grave of Fritz Lang, at Forest Lawn Hollywood

Preservation[edit] The Academy Film Archive has preserved a number of Fritz Lang's films, including Human Desire, Man Hunt, and The Art Director.[25] Filmography[edit] Main article: Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
filmography References[edit]

^ Kürten, Jochen (December 4, 2015). "Born 125 years ago: Celebrating the films of Fritz Lang". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved November 18, 2017.  ^ Obituary Variety, August 4, 1976, page 63. ^ "Fritz Lang: Master of Darkness". British Film Institute. Archived from the original on December 18, 2008. Retrieved January 22, 2009.  ^ "Architekturzentrum Wien". Architektenlexikon.at. Retrieved March 6, 2010.  ^ Vienna, Schottenpfarre, baptismal register Tom. 1890, fol. 83. ^ Ott, Frederick W. (1979). The films of Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
(1. ed. ed.). Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Pr. p. 10. ISBN 0806504358. Retrieved 19 January 2018. Lang's father was a native of Vienna, born in the Roman Catholic parish of Alservorstadt in 1860. His mother Paula was Jewish, a Catholic convert, born in 1864 in the city of Brunn (Brno), the capital of Moravia. CS1 maint: Extra text (link) ^ Patrick Mcgilligan (1998). Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast. St. Martin's Press. p. 477. ISBN 9780312194543. In the final years of his life, Lang had written, in German, a 20- to 30-page short story called "The Wandering Jew." It was "a kind of fable about a Wandering Jew," according to Pierre Rissient. After Lang's death, Rissient asked Latte [Fritz Lang's third wife] if he might arrange for its publication. "No," she replied, "because Fritz would want to be known as an atheist."  ^ Tom Gunning, British Film Institute
British Film Institute
(2000). The films of Fritz Lang: allegories of vision and modernity. British Film Institute. p. 7. ISBN 9780851707426. Lang, however, immediately cautions Prokosh, 'Jerry, don't forget, the gods have not created men, man has created the gods.' CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) ^ Lang, Fritz. Fritz Lang: Interviews. p. 163.  ^ "The religion of director Fritz Lang". Retrieved January 22, 2009.  ^ Michel Ciment: Fritz Lang, Le meurtre et la loi, Ed. Gallimard, Collection Découvertes Gallimard
Découvertes Gallimard
(vol. 442), 04/11/2003. The author thinks that this meeting, in fact, never happened. ^ Havis, Allan (2008), Cult Films: Taboo and Transgression, University Press of America, Inc., page 10 ^ Thomson, David (2012) The Big Screen: the story of the movies New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux ISBN 9780374191894 pages 64-65 Lang's version suspect ^ " Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
Tells the Riveting Story of the Day He Met Joseph Goebbels and Then High-Tailed It Out of Germany". Open Culture. 28 April 2015. Retrieved 29 March 2018.  ^ Hughes, Howard (2014). Outer Limits: The Filmgoers' Guide to the Great Science-fiction Films. NY: I.B.Tauris. p. 1. ISBN 1780761651. Retrieved 22 January 2015.  ^ a b David Kalat, DVD Commentary for The Testament of Dr. Mabuse. New York City, United States: The Criterion Collection (2004) ^ Plass, Ulrich (Winter 2009). "Dialectic of Regression: Theador W Adorno and Fritz Lang". Telos. 149: 131.  ^ Gold, H. L. (December 1959). "Of All Things". Galaxy. p. 6. Retrieved 15 June 2014.  ^ Robert Bloch. "In Memoriam: Fritz Lang" in Bloch's Out of My Head. Cambridge MA: NESFA Press, 1986, 171–80 ^ " Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved 2017-06-11.  ^ " Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
- Hollywood
Star Walk - Los Angeles
Los Angeles
Times". projects.latimes.com. Retrieved 2017-06-11.  ^ Fritz Lang ^ Krebs, Albin (August 3, 1976). "Fritz Lang, Film Director Noted for 'M,' Dead at 85". New York Times. Retrieved January 22, 2009. Friz Lang, the Viennese-born film director best known for "M", a terrifying study of a child killer, and for other tales of suspense, died yesterday in Los Angeles
Los Angeles
at the age of 85. He had been ill for some time, and had been inactive professionally for a decade.  ^ Dixon, Wheeler Winston (1993). Early Film Criticism of Francois Truffaut. Indiana University Press. pp. 41–42. ISBN 0253113431. ^ "Preserved Projects". Academy Film Archive. 

Further reading[edit]

Michaux, Agnès (fr). "Je les chasserai jusqu'au bout du monde jusqu'à ce qu'ils en crèvent," Paris: Éditions n°1, 1997; ISBN 2-86391-933-4. Friedrich, Otto. City of Nets: A Portrait of Hollywood
in the 1940s; New York: Harper & Row, 1986; ISBN 0-06-015626-0. (See e.g. pp. 45–46 for anecdotes revealing Lang's arrogance.) McGilligan, Patrick. Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast; New York: St. Martins Press, 1997; ISBN 0-312-13247-6. Schnauber, Cornelius. Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
in Hollywood; Wien: Europaverlag, c1986; ISBN 3-203-50953-9 (in German). Shaw, Dan. Great Directors: Fritz Lang. Senses of Cinema 22, October 2002. Youngkin, Stephen (2005). The Lost One: A Life of Peter Lorre. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2360-7.  – Contains interviews with Lang and a discussion of the making of the film M.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fritz Lang.

Works by or about Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
at Internet Archive Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
on IMDb Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
Bibliography (via UC Berkeley Media Resources Center) Senses of Cinema – Biographie Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
at filmportal.de Photos of Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
and cast of Hangmen Also Die by Ned Scott

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Films directed by Fritz Lang



Halbblut Der Herr der Liebe The Spiders, Part 1 Harakiri The Spiders, Part 2 Das wandernde Bild Vier um die Frau Destiny Dr. Mabuse the Gambler Die Nibelungen: Siegfried Die Nibelungen: Kriemhilds Rache Metropolis Spione Woman in the Moon M The Testament of Dr. Mabuse


Liliom Fury You Only Live Once You and Me The Return of Frank James Western Union Man Hunt Moontide Hangmen Also Die! Ministry of Fear The Woman in the Window Scarlet Street Cloak and Dagger Secret Beyond the Door House by the River American Guerrilla in the Philippines Rancho Notorious Clash by Night The Blue Gardenia The Big Heat Human Desire Moonfleet While the City Sleeps Beyond a Reasonable Doubt


The Tiger of Eschnapur The Indian Tomb The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse

v t e

Cannes Film Festival jury presidents


Georges Huisman (1946) Georges Huisman (1947) Georges Huisman (1949) André Maurois
André Maurois
(1951) Maurice Genevoix
Maurice Genevoix
(1952) Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau
(1953) Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau
(1954) Marcel Pagnol
Marcel Pagnol
(1955) Maurice Lehmann
Maurice Lehmann
(1956) André Maurois
André Maurois
(1957) Marcel Achard (1958) Marcel Achard (1959) Georges Simenon
Georges Simenon
(1960) Jean Giono (1961) Tetsurō Furukaki (1962) Armand Salacrou (1963) Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
(1964) Olivia de Havilland
Olivia de Havilland
(1965) Sophia Loren
Sophia Loren
(1966) Alessandro Blasetti (1967) André Chamson
André Chamson
(1968) Luchino Visconti
Luchino Visconti
(1969) Miguel Ángel Asturias
Miguel Ángel Asturias
(1970) Michèle Morgan
Michèle Morgan
(1971) Joseph Losey
Joseph Losey
(1972) Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman
(1973) René Clair
René Clair
(1974) Jeanne Moreau
Jeanne Moreau


Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
(1976) Roberto Rossellini
Roberto Rossellini
(1977) Alan J. Pakula
Alan J. Pakula
(1978) Françoise Sagan
Françoise Sagan
(1979) Kirk Douglas
Kirk Douglas
(1980) Jacques Deray (1981) Giorgio Strehler (1982) William Styron
William Styron
(1983) Dirk Bogarde
Dirk Bogarde
(1984) Miloš Forman
Miloš Forman
(1985) Sydney Pollack
Sydney Pollack
(1986) Yves Montand
Yves Montand
(1987) Ettore Scola
Ettore Scola
(1988) Wim Wenders
Wim Wenders
(1989) Bernardo Bertolucci
Bernardo Bertolucci
(1990) Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski
(1991) Gérard Depardieu
Gérard Depardieu
(1992) Louis Malle
Louis Malle
(1993) Clint Eastwood
Clint Eastwood
(1994) Jeanne Moreau
Jeanne Moreau
(1995) Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
(1996) Isabelle Adjani
Isabelle Adjani
(1997) Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese
(1998) David Cronenberg
David Cronenberg
(1999) Luc Besson
Luc Besson


Liv Ullmann
Liv Ullmann
(2001) David Lynch
David Lynch
(2002) Patrice Chéreau
Patrice Chéreau
(2003) Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino
(2004) Emir Kusturica
Emir Kusturica
(2005) Wong Kar-wai
Wong Kar-wai
(2006) Stephen Frears
Stephen Frears
(2007) Sean Penn
Sean Penn
(2008) Isabelle Huppert
Isabelle Huppert
(2009) Tim Burton
Tim Burton
(2010) Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro
(2011) Nanni Moretti
Nanni Moretti
(2012) Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
(2013) Jane Campion
Jane Campion
(2014) Joel and Ethan Coen (2015) George Miller (2016) Pedro Almodóvar
Pedro Almodóvar
(2017) Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett

v t e

The Life Career Award

Fritz Lang
Fritz Lang
(1976) Samuel Z. Arkoff (1977) Christopher Lee
Christopher Lee
(1979) Gene Roddenberry
Gene Roddenberry
(1980) William Shatner
William Shatner
(1980) John Agar
John Agar
(1981) Ray Harryhausen
Ray Harryhausen
(1982) Martin B. Cohen (1983) Vincent Price
Vincent Price
(1986) Leonard Nimoy
Leonard Nimoy
(1987) Roger Corman
Roger Corman
(1988) Ray Walston
Ray Walston
(1990) Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
(1992) David Lynch
David Lynch
(1993) Alfred Hitchcock
Alfred Hitchcock
(1994) Steve Reeves
Steve Reeves
(1994) Whit Bissell
Whit Bissell
(1994) Joel Silver
Joel Silver
(1995) Richard Fleischer
Richard Fleischer
(1995) Sean Connery
Sean Connery
(1995) Wes Craven
Wes Craven
(1995) Albert R. Broccoli
Albert R. Broccoli
(1996) Edward R. Pressman (1996) Harrison Ford
Harrison Ford
(1996) Dino De Laurentiis
Dino De Laurentiis
(1997) John Frankenheimer
John Frankenheimer
(1997) Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone
(1997) James Coburn
James Coburn
(1998) James Karen (1998) Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton
(1998) Nathan H. Juran (1999) Dick Van Dyke
Dick Van Dyke
(2000) George Barris (2000) Brian Grazer
Brian Grazer
(2001) Robert Englund
Robert Englund
(2001) Drew Struzan
Drew Struzan
(2002) Stan Lee
Stan Lee
(2002) Kurt Russell
Kurt Russell
(2003) Sid and Marty Krofft
Sid and Marty Krofft
(2003) Blake Edwards
Blake Edwards
(2004) Stephen J. Cannell (2005) Thomas Rothman (2005) Robert Halmi (2008) Lance Henriksen
Lance Henriksen
(2009) Irvin Kershner
Irvin Kershner
(2010) Bert Gordon
Bert Gordon
(2011) Michael Biehn
Michael Biehn
(2011) Frank Oz
Frank Oz
(2012) James Remar
James Remar
(2012) Jonathan Frakes
Jonathan Frakes
(2013) Malcolm McDowell
Malcolm McDowell
(2014) Nichelle Nichols
Nichelle Nichols
(2016) Lee Majors
Lee Majors

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 14802583 LCCN: n79043386 ISNI: 0000 0001 2121 5105 GND: 118569244 SELIBR: 242631 SUDOC: 028206002 BNF: cb12117839r (data) BIBSYS: 8012682 ULAN: 500225320 NLA: 35860887 NDL: 00514467 NKC: xx0040587 ICCU: ITICCUUBOV115484 BNE: XX899425 RKD: 386991 SN