1890 - 1976
One of the most important exponents of the German silent movie was undoubtedly director Fritz Lang. His artistic talent became visible very early. He visited the Academy of Graphic Art in Vienna and lived as an artist in Paris in 1913/1914.
After the outbreak of World War I he volunteered in Austria and was appointed to the front of Russia, Romania and Italy where he was wounded several times. He got different decorations and bravery medals. During his time in the military hospital he wrote his first scripts and one of them was very probably realized for the Stuart-Webbs serial of director Joe May. Since 1917 Joe May adapted several scripts of the young Fritz Lang for the follow-up serial Joe Deebs as well as melodramas like "Hilde Warren und der Tod" (1917).
In 1918 Lang met the great film producer Erich Pommer who engaged him to Berlin. There he wrote more scripts and played as an actor.
He made his debut as a director in 1919 with the movie "Halbblut" and continued with "Die Spinnen", which has a big resemblance with the Indiana-Jones movies in the 80s.
In 1920 Fritz Lang met author Thea von Harbou and got married in 1922. The duo was responsible for many unforgettable heydays of the early cinema. Lang was reputed in Berlin as a man of world, the monocel seemed to be a fixed component of his face. Because of his figure and his narrations he was considered as a winning companion. But his employees also knew the other side of Fritz Lang, that one who stood in the studio at 7 a.m. and worked till 11 p.m., sometimes later. He was deadly unhappy when a scene didn't get out exactly the way he imagined, correspondingly he urged on the actors to a top performance and precision.
Fritz Lang realised only few movies in the 20s comparing with other directors but his movies stand out for big quality and most of those filmings went down in film history.
To these productions belong "Der müde Tod" (21), "Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler" (22), the monumental film "Die Nibelungen" (24), shot in two parts, "Spione" (28) and the science fiction movie "Frau im Mond" (29).
After a journey to America Fritz Lang shooted his probably most famous work "Metropolis" in 1925/1926. As in his earlier movies he turned out to be an extreme strict director who demanded everything from his actors. Several repetitions of different scenes happened often. Fritz Lang soon "relished" the reputation of a tyrant. But in order to realize such pictures as he did, it was a necessity to lead with a resolute hand.
The rise of the sound film offered Fritz Lang new possibilities to express himself in his movies. But he thought about his next movie very carefully. So his first talky only appeared in 1931 with the simple title "M" (1931) and became a smash hit, the leading actor Peter Lorre became a star. The film encountered additional interest because Germany was especially sensitive to this subject on account of the cases of the mass murderers Kürten and Haarmann.
After this movie followed only one more in Germany with "Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse" (31).
In 1933 Propaganda-Minister Joseph Goebbels invited Fritz Lang for a talk. Goebbels offered him the leadership of the German movie business. But Lang was not interested in shootint National Socialist movies and he chose the emigration. His marriage with Thea von Harbou - they lived separated since 1931 - became divorced.
In France Fritz Lang shot several pictures and then went via London to the USA. There he founded together with other people the Anti-Nazi-League. His first Hollywood film was "Fury" (1936). His career in America continued nearly smoothly. He directed many great movies, e.g. "Hangmen Also Die" (1942) "The Woman in the Window" (1944) "The Blue Gardenia" (1953) and "The Big Heat" (1953).
In the late 50s Lang returned to Germany where he tried to go on from his earlier successes with "Der Tiger von Eschnapur" (59), "Das indische Grabmal" (1959) or Die tausend Augen des Dr. Mabuse" (1960) but failed.
In 1976 Fritz Lang died, nearly went blind, in his house in Beverly Hills.
Other movies from Fritz Lang (Director):