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
3 1/3 out of 5 stars. Hangmen Also Die started off as a decent but dated indictment against the Nazis. Fair but stale until the halfway point where it became apparent to me the movie wasn't a drama about any of its characters but more of a documentary about the fight of good against evil. It requires a little patience from the viewer but is worth the payoff.
Lang reiterates his hate for the Nazis, who he fled a decade earlier, with this solid Noir about the manhunt following the assassination of the "Hangman of Prague" Heydrich. More notable today as the only credited script by Brecht, whose working relationship with Lang was apparently cool.
Fritz Lang's politically-minded suspense drama is most interesting as a document of its era, but also works as a thriller. It's heavy-handed with its political ideologies, the acting is dated, and it goes on far too long - but a morally complex plot, several memorable moments, and Lang's taut filmmaking keep it compelling.
One of the downsides of going to the Rotterdam Film Festival (more on which next week) was having to miss a whole week of Film Forum’s essential