Born in Vienna, Fritz Lang (1890-1976) moved to Germany after WWI to write for the Berlin-based Decla film company, but the former art student’s visual sense soon earned him a spot in the director’s chair. Expressionism was all the rage in German cinema at the time, and its stark geometry and dark psychology course through such films as METROPOLIS and M. Lang’s talents caught the eye of Josef Goebbels, who offered to install the filmmaker as head of Germany’s UFA studio after the Nazis had come to power. That was Lang’s cue to flee the country.
Arriving in Hollywood in 1934, Lang set up shop at MGM; over the next two decades, he would work for virtually every major studio. Though he made a couple of distinctive Westerns, the director specialized in crime dramas, and such films as SCARLET STREET and THE BIG HEAT underline the debt that film noir owes to Expressionism. American studio executives looked upon Lang as a skilled but difficult journeyman, and he returned to Germany to make his final films at the end of the 1950s. It was only later that Fritz Lang’s seminal contributions to sci-fi and film noir got their critical due, prompting the British Film Institute to dub the monocled director a “master of darkness.”
Series also includes THE TESTAMENT OF DR. MABUSE, HANGMEN ALSO DIE! and CLASH BY NIGHT.
Series programmed by Gwen Deglise, Grant Moninger and John Hagelston. Program notes by John Hagelston.