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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 

1955       Moonfleet 

1954       Human Desire 

1953       The Big Heat 

1953       The Blue Gardenia 

1953       El vampiro negro

1952       Clash by Night

1952       Rancho Notorious  

1951       M 

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!

1942       Moontide 

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 

1936       Fury 

1934       Liliom

1933       The Testament of Dr. Mabuse 

1933       The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse 

1931       M 

1929       Woman in the Moon

1928       Spies 

1927       Metropolis

1924       Kriemhild's Revenge   

1924       Siegfried

1922       Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler

1921       Die Pest in Florenz

1921       Mysteries of India, Part I: Truth

1921       Destiny

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       Harakiri

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       Halbblut  

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  

Matinee Classics - Fritz Lang
Matinee Classics - Metropolis starring Alfred Abel, Rudolf Klein-Rogge and Fritz Rasp
Matinee Classics - Clash by Night starring Barbara Stanwyck, Paul Douglas, Robert Ryan, Marilyn Monroe, Keith Andes, Silvio Minciotti, J. Carrol Naish, Deborah Stewart and Diane Stewart
Matinee Classics - Scarlet Street starring Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea, Margaret Lindsay, Jess Barker, Rosalind Ivan, Arthur Loft, Charles Kemper, Russell Hicks, Samuel S. Hinds, Anita Sharp-Bolster, Vladimir Sokoloff, Cy Kendall and Tom Dillon
Matinee Classics - Scarlet Street starring Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea, Margaret Lindsay, Jess Barker, Rosalind Ivan, Arthur Loft, Charles Kemper, Russell Hicks, Samuel S. Hinds, Anita Sharp-Bolster, Vladimir Sokoloff, Cy Kendall and Tom Dillon

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