But I am biased against courtroom dramas, even if they are Noir-ish. I haven't read Rivette's essay, but agree with Francisco's hot take: "lifeless and artificial." I will add that the premise is ridiculous and the plot contrived and predictable, with the final plot twist coming off in the clumsiest way.
Rivette praised this as a quasi-sci-fi film whose relentlessly stiff, lifeless presentation creates a brutal worldview. Lang's biographer attributes its barren vibe to Lang's weary disinterest and Dana Andrews always being hungover. If they're both right, that means you can collapse ass backwards into a noir gem. The social issue is a red herring—this experiment proposes a robotic society where all men are guilty.
The master leaves Hollywood the same way he entered, by inquiring on America's death penalty. It's a slow burn, one that may seem like a rethread of past glories, but the reward is worth it. Lang manages to make a film where everyone is simultaneously innocent and guilty. It's also obviously autobiographical, as the old man who is against the penalty and who launched this whole affair is clearly a stand in for Lang.
Lang's last American film is certainly not least! This one has some pretty surprising twists to it with some very tense moments towards the end. That being said, it should be warned that this one suffers a bit from a low budget feel. A shame a master like Lang wasn't given more to work with, however, he takes Andrews and co. as far as he can, making a very unconventional and successful noir/murder picture. 4 stars
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.