Wise: Hello Werth!
Werth: Only partly. Lang was a true cinematic visionary who crossed over from industry-standard-setting German silent films in the 1920’s to make some outstanding films for the Hollywood machine through the 1950’s.
Werth: The other star of You Only Live Once, saucer-eyed beauty Sylvia Sidney, is also in Lang’s first American flick, which finishes up the Film Forum series, 1936’s Fury.
Wise: I hate when that happens.
Werth: Tracy plays it cool, expecting that justice will prevail when, unfortunately, word spreads through the small town that the notorious kidnapper’s been captured. The townspeople go hog-wild, turning into a frothy-mouthed mob out for vengeance, and even the sheriff can’t stop them. They light the prison on fire and watch it burn down as Tracy cries out from his cell window, the flames engulfing him.
Werth: Oh it’s not over—cause through a small miracle, Tracy survives and escapes allowing the town and the news reporters to think he’s dead. From the safety of another town, singed and keeping his identity a secret, he proceeds to put the entire town on trial for murder.
Wise: —and fury.
Wise: She does make me want to have a cigarette. My favorite Lang film sadly, isn’t on the docket because it’s not one of his American films. It’s Metropolis which made a lot of headlines last year when twenty-five minutes of footage, which had been hacked from the film during distribution and without Lang’s permission, was discovered in an archive in Buenos Aires.
Wise: You beat me to it. But Metropolis is unusual in that it has continued to be so influential even in its incomplete form. Films like Blade Runner and Star Wars owe an obvious debt to Lang’s vision, but small nods to the movie’s brilliance occur throughout the history of cinema—
Werth: —like Madonna’s “Express Yourself” video.
Werth: Father vs. son, proletariat vs. the bourgeoisie, man vs. sexy woman robot—it’s got it all!
Werth: And that’s what separates his films from the typical Hollywood blockbuster. Lang is concerned with the people caught in extraordinary events instead of selling special effects.
Werth: And wear a monocle! See you next week for more Film Gab.