Somewhere in the 18th century Great Britain, noble but penniless young boy John Mohune is sent by his dying mother to Moonfleet, to put himself under the protection of a certain Jeremy Fox. The boy discovers that Fox is both a former lover of his mother and the leader of a gang of buccaneers. A strange friendship grows as their adventures go on. —IMDb
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
Moonfleet might disappoint some hardcore Fritz Lang fans. Being one, I can empathise. It is a significant departure from Lang's dark, stylish, and atmospheric noir. Instead, this film is a campy period drama with the set design of a primary school play, and these attributes did irk me. However, I felt this film redeemed itself by with the strong character development of the empathetic anti-hero.
Following four black and white noir dramas, Fritz Lang directed this two million dollar Cinemascope costume piece for MGM; a handsome film, a marginal failure, and the end of the line for Lang and the studios. His remaining American films are low budget independent crime dramas, ending a turbulent yet prolific two decades in Hollywood.
Not the best of Lang's Hollywood films by any means, but the exercise of watching it was beneficial.
I saw this one on theater and loved it. In spite of having the same dense atmosphere of all Lang movies it is a very atypical movie from his US period. There is a certain kindness and tenderness that you do not find in any of his other movies. Anxious to see it again on DVD.
Also: Sight & Sound’s Gilbert Adair archive, new restorations from the National Film Preservation Foundation and more.