Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#126 Post by matrixschmatrix » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:31 pm

Ha, if they do, I don't know that it would contribute significantly to an argument in favor of Lang being a sensitive location shooter- they look incredibly artificial throughout, which is I think one of their saving virtues.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#127 Post by NABOB OF NOWHERE » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:36 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:It's honestly hard to imagine Lang as a sensitive on-location filmmaker, I can't recall him leaving the studio prominently in any of his best work (though I'm sure I'm forgetting things)
Well there's Clash by Night which does incorporate documentary footage as well as location set ups which blend in surprisingly well with the wealth of back projection stuff given the age of the film.

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knives
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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#128 Post by knives » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:36 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:Ha, if they do, I don't know that it would contribute significantly to an argument in favor of Lang being a sensitive location shooter- they look incredibly artificial throughout, which is I think one of their saving virtues.
Yeah, I would have sworn that both are 100% sets with their Sabu like looks.

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#129 Post by matrixschmatrix » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:41 pm

NABOB OF NOWHERE wrote:
matrixschmatrix wrote:It's honestly hard to imagine Lang as a sensitive on-location filmmaker, I can't recall him leaving the studio prominently in any of his best work (though I'm sure I'm forgetting things)
Well there's Clash by Night which does incorporate documentary footage as well as location set ups which blend in surprisingly well with the wealth of back projection stuff given the age of the film.
Oh, that's true- if I'm recalling Kalat correctly, that introductory documentary montage is something Lang wanted to include in something like half his total filmography, and it's a trick he did have a real affinity for (even if the footage itself mostly seems like B-roll.)

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#130 Post by domino harvey » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:48 pm

Can't believe you're all forgetting that Greek mythology film he shot outdoors :P

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matrixschmatrix
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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#131 Post by matrixschmatrix » Fri Aug 04, 2017 2:51 pm

Haha the one fixated on one of Lang's most well known motifs, the nobility and purity of classical statuary

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#132 Post by Rayon Vert » Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:56 pm

domino harvey wrote:Can't believe you're all forgetting that Greek mythology film he shot outdoors :P
His best work definitely. No. 1 on my list.
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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#133 Post by TMDaines » Sat Aug 05, 2017 5:57 am

knives wrote:I've been trying to get a copy of AGiP for awhile, but the library is being quite stubborn (they have a copy somewhere). Nevertheless hopefully I'll join your boat of better than expected.
Best way to watch it now is with a full 1080p rip that is floating about online. Is it streaming on Amazon US or Warner Archive like that?

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#134 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Aug 05, 2017 11:10 am

TMDaines wrote:
knives wrote:I've been trying to get a copy of AGiP for awhile, but the library is being quite stubborn (they have a copy somewhere). Nevertheless hopefully I'll join your boat of better than expected.
Best way to watch it now is with a full 1080p rip that is floating about online.
That must look a lot better than the Warner Archives version I purchased, unless it's a rip from the WA. In the night scenes, I had difficulty making out details that were clearly meant to be seen.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#135 Post by domino harvey » Sat Aug 05, 2017 1:32 pm

You mean Fox Cinema Archives, this has not come out via Warners (and wouldn't)

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#136 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Aug 05, 2017 1:37 pm

domino harvey wrote:You mean Fox Cinema Archives, this has not come out via Warners (and wouldn't)
I'm sorry yes, I meant Fox Archives.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#137 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Aug 05, 2017 1:39 pm

The Moonfleet on Fox Archives didn't look that great either.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#138 Post by domino harvey » Sat Aug 05, 2017 2:39 pm

At the risk of us developing a vaudeville routine, Moonfleet is Warner Archives

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#139 Post by matrixschmatrix » Sat Aug 05, 2017 2:43 pm

But I think we can agree that both look better than the Sony Archives release of Habblut

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#140 Post by Rayon Vert » Sat Aug 05, 2017 2:46 pm

domino harvey wrote:At the risk of us developing a vaudeville routine, Moonfleet is Warner Archives
Doh!

And they both certainly also look better than the TCM of You and Me. (Hopefully I've got that one right.)

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#141 Post by domino harvey » Sat Aug 05, 2017 2:51 pm

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Drucker
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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#142 Post by Drucker » Sat Aug 05, 2017 4:16 pm

YOLO is a very worthy follow-up to Fury even if it never quite reaches the highs of that film. Plot-wise it has a similar theme to Fury, and its probably a slight bit more stylish (especially the prison escape scene!) I honestly felt it started a bit slow, and Henry Fonda, early in the film was a bit too "aw-shucks" for me. As the film progressed, Fonda gets better and better and it goes in a great direction. My one complaint is that I think the film's strength is executed a bit weakly. Fury thrives because it's really, really focused. While the constant plot-twists in You Only Live Once keep it interesting and are a strength, it occasionally makes for awkward plotting. There's also just a feeling that the film is doing too much. The whole subplot with her being pregnant didn't really click for me, neither does the fact that the PD was romantically interested in her (couldn't this just have been any good friend?) Anyway, these are minor quibbles, and I still enjoyed the film quite a bit more than most of his 40s/50s films I've seen.

I do think this film's political message is slightly more discrete but in today's world remains more profound than what we see in Fury. While the idea that we as a society never truly forgive people that have broken norms or laws is nothing new (Scarlet Letter), this film is incredibly relevant considering its age. It's portrayal of Fonda's obstacles in trying to be a legitimate member of society and the refusal of everyday people to look past his criminal record is relevant as ever.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#143 Post by TMDaines » Sat Aug 05, 2017 6:36 pm

domino harvey wrote:The Woman in the Window is my number two and unlikely to move from that spot. I think the ending is key for several reasons, but perhaps most compellingly for being the only time such a cheap resolution has ever fully worked-- though a certain George Sanders movie likewise amusingly painted itself into a corner and had to fall-back on a similar ending for Code-related reasons, but it's a bit more transparent there. Both films are able to indulge deeper in despair as a result, but Lang seems to relish the perversity of the whole endeavor with maximum energy and verve
Do people generally agree that the ending works? I rolled my eyes and wondered at what point all school children were taught that you shouldn't end your stories with
SpoilerShow
"... and it was all a dream."

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#144 Post by knives » Sat Aug 05, 2017 9:17 pm

That tactic works though as a way of dealing with censors.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#145 Post by Drucker » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:08 pm

Through the first reel or two, I was afraid Blue Gardenia wouldn't click for me, but eventually it really did, and while it won't be quite at the top spot for me, I can certainly see it making my list. As I go through these Lang films, one thing that I don't think Lang always succeeds in is having separate plot threads running at the same time. Sometimes it works (as I noted in Frau Im Mond, but I find there are times where the plots don't really come together all that convincingly for me. Luckily, with this film, that instinct is avoided and Lang is singularly focused on the primary plot. The suspense of the film convincingly and steadily builds. In addition, the film is enjoyably stylistic, but not distractingly so. In addition to the more stylish moments, the critique/political subtext of the film about media sensationalism and police conduct is really effectively intertwined.
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My favorite moment was at the end, when Conte wants to find the real killer, and the cops don't seem bothered by it, because the crime was "solved enough." That one line was more effective of a critique than you often see in films, and since we were already dealing with a somewhat shady character, it delivered just enough, but doesn't overdo it.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#146 Post by TMDaines » Mon Aug 07, 2017 7:39 am

I've really watched a lot in the last two weeks going from Frank James to Ministry of Fear.

The latter is the strongest in that period. A really good, Hitchcockian thriller with some fabulous cinematography. The Criterion Blu-ray really brings out the excellent use of light and shadow in the film. There's some wonderful stills to be had from that one for sure. In particular, the use of high contrast, both within a single frame and between cuts, really stood out. This is up there with the best of his American period from what I've seen.

The westerns were fine. I enjoyed them, but nothing particular stands out. They passed the time well.

Man Hunt felt quite long and a bit too camp in parts. It's still a good film, but not a masterpiece. Hangmen Also Die! was far better, with a slicker script, and had Brecht's fingerprints all over it. Like, the previous film it had memorable characters, but felt far less hokey. Maybe that's my reaction to the depiction of London, as opposed to my familiarity with the former Czechoslovakia.

Disappointed with The Woman in the Window. Cheap ending that leaves me a little non-plussed over how to consider the rest of the film.

I watched Der muede Tod too. I'd be interested in pulling together a list of films around this period that have the format of interwoven short stories or consecutive ones with a wraparound narrative. It felt indebted to Intolerance, but was less tedious. Lang's silents set the bar high though, and this doesn't match the thrills of the later ones.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#147 Post by Drucker » Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:34 am

I too loved Hangmen, and definitely enjoyed it more than almost any others I've seen from the 1940-1945 era. Need to re-watch it for this project, but it'll certainly be on my list.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#148 Post by knives » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:13 am

Destiny
It's been a long time since I've seen this so it took me back how long and involved as a real story the framing device is. I almost believe the movie would be better without the Intolerance bits the frame is so well handled as its own story. That's not to say the stories aren't good. They're quite excellent as little tales of romance, but it was surprising to realize that the frame is even better.

The Spiders
Here's another film I haven't seen in about a decade and holds up a lot better than I expected. The second half isn't as good as the first though its more Holmes leanings make me think this was intended to do a lot of genre hopping had these first two films down better. That sense of genre overall is what makes this so interesting as there is not the slightest attempt to knock off Feuillade outside of the rare use of masks. Instead the film is more literary in its approach and reminds a lot of what Alan Moore would try to do (more successfully) with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. This also plays to Lang's fetish for mannish women in an amusingly explicit fashion.

The House by the River
Even though this isn't really Lang's first poverty produced feature, this is the earliest that feels connected to that part of his career with that weird lighting style and alien performances. The adaptation of his larger style to what is clearly a total lack of budget is really fascinating even if the script its attached to isn't as amazing as Blue Gardenia. In a lot of ways actually this is that film's reverse. Not only are the gender dynamics at opposite ends as if the killer and victim switched places, but even the psychology of knowing is reversed causing a different kind of guilt and danger. It's effective as a Poe like experience and probably played as an influence on Roger Corman's Price films at least in terms of characterization.

Given how it relates itself to Blue Gardenia what all of this violence means for masculinity is certainly a lingering question. In a certain way the film reverses a few formulas with the brothers playing out their own whore/ virgin dynamic taking on a lot of other feminine archetypes even as their essential character is based in certain masculine ideas of violence and honor. What's really interesting, and probably a carry over from the ideas in Scarlet Street, is that the male virgin here is somewhat more despicable that the cartoonish whore. At least he's honest about his own weaselly nature with his shamelessness being entertaining. Lee Bowman conversely is a self obsessed ego stroker who is just mean to everyone thanks to his guilt. He really only has one option to legitimize his guilt as an honest expression and he doesn't do it which is an interesting thumb at the code. Though having Bowman be a cripple also plays with things that make me unsure of what exactly is going on thematically.

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#149 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon Aug 07, 2017 2:10 pm

Just a note on House By the River's production values. I don't know if it had a "total lack of budget". Gunning disputes that a bit referring to the fact that Republic had started to make "speciality prestige films" around this time and this may have been one of them. He then has this to say about the sets (which I also admired and found very evocative):
Although House by the River uses a limited number of sets, its central sets making up the house of Stephen and Marjorie Byrne with its lawn dipping down to the river hardly qualifies as a B-film set.The interior of this house with its huge staircase has been uniquely designed and lit to invoke a turn-of-the-century upper middle-class home. (...) The film's scrupulous attention to period detail - the line engravings in the newspaper rather than photographs, the carte de visite size photos in the family album - show a care in the production of this film that indicates possible art house ambitions for its release. (p. 370)

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Re: Auteur List: Fritz Lang - Discussion and Defenses

#150 Post by knives » Mon Aug 07, 2017 2:26 pm

I can believe on the amount of detail going on. This is a carefully visualized film, but it also seems more ready for the stage in its construction of sets then what you'd see at a bigger studio of the time. I think that adds a lot to the film's experience in a good way. Perhaps the best description is that it exploits all the weaknesses of a lesser budget (I have to imagine even on prestige a Republic budget was not what even a mid studio pic would easily play with) to a very effective atmosphere.

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