BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT (Fritz Lang, 1956)

Those who denigrate Fritz Lang’s last American film, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, usually describe its story as being overly contrived and “full of holes”—two attributes that a logical person might deem mutually exclusive. Some fault its legal naïvité despite the fact that the script from which Lang worked was written by Douglas Morrow, who graduated […]

HUMAN DESIRE (Fritz Lang, 1954)

Flimsy, unconvincing, at times ludicrous version of Zola’s La bête humaine, updated to the present, divested of naturalism and moved to New Jersey. The script is a load of melodramatic clichés, with heavy-handed references to the Korean War to remind us that its author, Alfred Hayes, helped write Rossellini’s magnificent Paisà (1946) about the Second […]

FURY (Fritz Lang, 1936)

Consider the premise of Fritz Lang’s god-awful Fury, a Hollywood joke when compared to the masterpieces that Lang made in Germany (Destiny, 1921, both parts of Die Nibelungen, 1924, M, 1931)—perhaps because, like M, this preposterous and fanciful melodrama is grounded in actuality: in California in 1933, the killing by jail-storming vigilantes of two kidnappers […]

WOMAN IN THE MOON (Fritz Lang, 1929)

Fritz Lang’s futuristic Frau im Mond, about humankind’s first lunar expedition, follows Georges Méliès’s A Trip to the Moon by seventeen years. Ironically, the spacecraft’s name is Friede, literally, Peace; but Wolf Helius and Hans Windegger, his chief engineer, are both in love with astronomer Friede Velten, who is also onboard. (Friede is engaged to […]