FRITZ LANG BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Friedrich Christian Anton Lang was born December 5, 1890 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary (now Austria). Initially, he studied to become an architect, like his father, but figured out rather quickly that his real passion was in art. By 1913, Lang was living in Paris, painting postcards, drawing cartoons, and designing fashion. At the outbreak of World War I, he returned to Vienna and served in the Austrian army. After a number of injuries, he was discharged. Immediately, he left for Berlin and began making movies.
Lang started out working under producer Erich Pommer as a script writer and editor. He eventually became a director for the Decla Bioscop Company, followed by directing under his own production company. His directorial debut came with “Halbbut” (1919). He followed with a two part picture, “Die Spinnen, 1. Teil – Der Goldene See” (1919) (The Spiders, Part 1: Golden Lake) and “Die Spinnen, 2. Teil – Das Brillantenschiff” (1920) (The Spiders, Part 2: The Diamond Ship), both of which he wrote and directed. In 1920, he met his future wife, actress/writer Thea von Harbou, who would co-write with him all of his movies from then on until 1933.
He did not start receiving recognition for his efforts until 1921’s “Destiny”. Its theme, man’s bargaining with his own fate, became central in many of his following films. His next hit, “Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler” (1922), was a two part gangster serial inspired by Al Capone that foreshadowed Adolf Hitler’s rise to power by documenting the life of the fictional evil genius Dr. Mabuse. It astonished audiences everywhere, as Mabuse was one of cinema’s first super criminals. Lang next tried to stir pride in Germany with the two part Siegfried epic based “Die Niebelungen” (1924), which was released as two parts, “Siegfried” (1924) and “Kriemhild’s Revenge” (1924), in the United States.
Directly following came one of Lang’s absolute best: “Metropolis” (1927). The massive production, with a budget of $200 million, became the most expensive silent film of all time. The picture was set in 2026, and portrayed the future as being divided into two social classes: the rich and the poor. It was a powerful expressionistic drama that marked a turning point in movie history and explicitly showed Lang’s technique and style, making him one of the top directors of the time, even though the picture turned out to be neither a catastrophic fail nor success. He created another criminal film, “Spies” (1928), as well as another futuristic feature, “Woman in the Moon” (1929), before coming out with his first sound picture, “M” (1931). The real life based, guilt-exploring, murder mystery became a classic. The film was later remade by Joseph Losey in 1951, but his work had little effect on audiences, as it could not compare to the original.
After releasing “The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse” (1933) and “The Last Testament of Dr. Mabuse” (1933), the director was offered a job to direct propaganda films for Adolf Hitler. The propagandist who offered him the job was obviously unaware of Lang’s Jewish background, and he decided to flee the country before the propagandist could find out, leaving behind his Nazi ex-wife. Stopping in Paris to film “Liliom” (1934), the director relocated to Hollywood in the United States. His debut film as a U.S. director was the crime drama “Fury” (1936), and it became a huge commercial and critical success. It was followed by the Bonnie and Clyde model “You Only Live Once” (1937) and musical comedy “You and Me” (1938).
He continued making Hollywood films, mostly film noirs but also including westerners, war dramas, thrillers, and melodramas. Some of his more known pictures during his American career include the westerners “The Return of Frank James” (1940) and “Western Union” (1941), war films, thrillers, and dramas “Hangmen Also Die” (1943), “The Ministry of Fear” (1944), “The Woman in the Window” (1944), and “Scarlett Street” (1945). His later films included mainly crime dramas like “Clash By Night” (1952), “The Blue Gardenia” (1953), “Human Desire” (1954), “While the City Sleeps” (1956), and his final American made picture, “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” (1956). By the mid 1950's, Lang had become frustrated with the Hollywood movie system, and decided to leave the studios. As well, I’m sure Hollywood was starting to get tired to him, too, as he was seen as tyrannical and abusive to actors, not unlike the notorious Otto Preminger.
At the draw of the 1950's the director returned to Germany. He was offered two jobs in India, for “Der Tiger von Eschnapur” (1959) (The Tiger of Eschnapur) and “The Tomb of Love” (1959). Then, he quickly made “Journey to the Lost City” (1960) and another Dr. Mabuse film, “The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse” (1959). All of these later films found neither success nor acclaim. During the filming of the latter, his eyesight became so poor that he settled on retiring. He never completed another picture. Lang moved back to Beverly Hills to live out his retirement. On August 2, 1976, the director passed away. For his work in the motion picture industry, he was awarded with a Life Career Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA, an Honorary Award from the German Film Awards, as well as a coveted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
1960 Journey to the Lost City
1960 The 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse
1959 The Tomb of Love
1959 Der Tiger von Eschnapur
1956 Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
1956 While the City Sleeps
1954 Human Desire
1953 The Big Heat
1953 The Blue Gardenia
1953 El vampiro negro
1952 Clash by Night
1952 Rancho Notorious
1950 American Guerrilla in the Philippines
1950 House by the River
1947 Secret Beyond the Door...
1946 Cloak and Dagger
1945 Scarlet Street
1944 The Woman in the Window
1944 Ministry of Fear
1943 Hangmen Also Die!
1941 Confirm or Deny
1941 Man Hunt
1941 Western Union
1940 The Return of Frank James
1938 You and Me
1937 You Only Live Once
1933 The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
1933 The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse
1929 Woman in the Moon
1924 Kriemhild's Revenge
1922 Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler
1921 Die Pest in Florenz
1921 Mysteries of India, Part I: Truth
1921 Vier um die Frau
1921 Mysteries of India, Part II: Above All Law
1920 Das wandernde Bild
1920 Die Spinnen, 2. Teil - Das Brillantenschiff
1920 Die Herrin der Welt 8. Teil - Die Rache der Maud Fergusson
1919 Der Herr der Liebe
1919 The Mistress of the World, Part Three: The City of Gold
1919 Mistress of the World, Number Two: The Race for Life
1919 Der Totentanz
1919 Die Spinnen, 1. Teil - Der Goldene See
1919 Bettler GmbH
1919 Die Frau mit den Orchideen
1919 Die Rache ist mein
1919 Lilith and Ly
1919 Wolkenblau und Flimmerstern
1917 Hilde Warren und der Tod
1917 Die Hochzeit im Excentricclub
1916 Die Peitsche