After director Fritz Lang vaulted to prominence with such masterpieces of German cinema as Metropolis and M, he brought his art to Hollywood films, including Fury, Ministry of Fear, The Woman in the Window and more trenchant tales of innocents caught in a web of seeming guilt. His last U.S. movie is this intriguing film noir about a novelist (Dana Andrews) out to expose the injustices of capital punishment. Working with his fiancée’s (Joan Fontaine) father, a newspaper publisher (Sidney Blackmer), he frames himself for murder, intending to produce exonerating evidence at the last moment. But the publisher suddenly dies, the evidence is lost… and that’s only the first twist in a brilliantly layered plot ideally suited to Lang’s talents. —Warner Bros.
Born in Vienna in 1890, Fritz Lang was brought up in Viennese middle-class comfort by his Roman Catholic father Anton and his Jewish mother Paula Schleisinger who both hoped that young Fritz would become an architect. But like so many middle-class children of the new century, Lang was fascinated by the pulp and fantasy literature of his day, the art world both in and outside Vienna and a potent new form of entertainment that invited artistic scrutiny and craftsmanship, the motion picture. Though the teenaged Lang attended school as his parents wished, he secretly haunted the cafe’s and cabarets of Vienna and intended to become a painter like his idols Klimt and Schile. At aged 21 Lang’s yearning took him to Paris where he lived in Bohemian splendor until the outbreak of W.W.I. Returning to Vienna, Lang enlisted in the Austrian army where he repeatedly saw combat, was wounded at least three times and decorated twice.
It was while on leave recuperating from one of these wounds… read more
I would play this on a double bill with "Shock Corridor". Perhaps Fuller was aware of Lang's film in creating his own. I think Fuller's goes further and does more. Somehow it is also more cinematic. Lang's feels like a disinterested master carelessly spinning his wheels. It's a bad film but good as noir. Actually had the seeds to be a great film.
Sometimes considered a late period noir, but really a dressed up murder/court mystery with TV drama aesthetics, typical of B-films of the late 50's. Aging master Fritz Lang keeps things interesting, despite a weak performance from a past his prime, alcoholic, Dana Andrews. Lang's last American film.
Also: Owen Hatherley on Patrick Keiller, Cavett on Groucho, Scorsese’s storyboards and more.