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Director Fritz Lang

Director Fritz Lang

Feb. 27, 1969:¬†Fritz Lang is photographed by Los Angeles Times staff photographer Harry Chase for a story on the famous Hollywood filmmaker by Los Angeles Times staff writer Kevin Thomas. A different frame from the 1969 shoot ran with Thomas’s interview.

This frame — my favorite — from the 1969 photo session was published with this 2001 Kevin Thomas retrospective on Lang that began:

Fritz Lang casts a long, dark shadow over the history of the movies, stretching from the Golden Age of the German cinema in the ’20s to Hollywood through the ’50s, capped by a return to Berlin just as the wall was going up. Man’s struggle against his fate was his theme, and the superheroes of his vast UFA Studios spectacles in Germany were just as tormented and driven as the everyman heroes of his American films.

Working in a bold Expressionist style that revealed a fatalistic pessimism that never left him, Lang anticipated the gangster movie, the James Bond thrillers and the space travel adventure; he was so expert at creating suspense that director Claude Chabrol once declared, “Without Lang there would be no Hitchcock.”

Lang’s “Metropolis” (1926), a futuristic fable that was a plea for humane treatment of labor on the part of management, and “M” (1931), in which the criminal world, for reasons of self-preservation, pursues an elusive serial child-killer (an unforgettable Peter Lorre) are in continual revival. His Hollywood films, starting with his anti-lynching drama “Fury” (1936) and his Bonnie and Clyde-like “You Only Live Once” (1937) and including such classic ’40s film noirs as “Scarlet Street” and “The Woman in the Window,” both starring Joan Bennett and Edward G. Robinson, and the crime film “The Big Heat” (1953) show up regularly on TV.

Fritz Lang passed away on Aug. 2, 1976. He has a star on the Hollywood Star Walk.

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