In Der Mude


I’m still reeling at the concept of a musical version of Fritz Lang’s DER MUDE TOD / DESTINY. If you recall, this was seriously mooted by producer Arthur Brauner as a project for Lang to undertake upon his return to Germany at the end of the ’50s.

Of course, this was the great era of the East German musical, but a West German song-and-dance based on Thea Von Harbou’s original “book” would be quite something. Lang, of course, had musical experience in Hollywood, having directed YOU AND ME, with music by Kurt Weill, and I guess RANCHO NOTORIOUS is pretty tuneful.

But what would a late period musical Lang be like?

I can’t help thinking that it might be something like this:

Enter a Young Woman (Elke Sommer), bereft at her loved one’s disappearance behind a great wall with no doors.

To the tune of “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise.”

I must find a way to the other side,
And get back my missing man!
Perhaps with an overdose of cyanide,
I can execute this plan!

(Takes poison, finds self in new surroundings.)

Now I’m within,
I must just have a look round,
To get my missing man found,
I’ll climb this stairway to paradise,
And get back my missing man!

Stairway to Heaven

Enter Death (Gert Frobe), singing to the tune of “Hi Ho”.

I’m death! I’m Death!
I’ll take your final breath!
I’ll take you all
Behind my wall
I’m Death, I’m Death, I’m Death!

Segues into “You’re my little Choo-chee Face,” from CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG.

Destiny! Destiny!
No escaping death for me!

Hot Wax

And it seems to me,
You lived your life,
Like a candle in Berlin…

Berlin? You take my breath away!

Oh. Okay.

Observant readers will have noticed that these are THE WORST LYRICS EVER. Win unspecified goodies by writing better ones! Remember, DER MUDE TOD has several different storylines woven together, so there’s plenty of scope. You could wax poetic about the field with the 99-year-lease, the Chinese emperor’s fireworks display, or the baby in the burning building.

To make it even easier (not everyone has seen DER MUDE TOD) you can musicalize any Lang film. You could have M FOR MUSIC, METROPOLIS MELODY, or THE DANCING DOCTOR MABUSE (“If you knew Mabuse like I know Mabuse…”).

At least one rhyming couplet is necessary to qualify as a lyric. The German musical is an underappreciated genre, so come on, all you Irving Berliners and Helmut Kohl Porters. Don’t let your candor ebb! You may be a learner but you needn’t be low!

Deadline: one week from today.

Prize: the film of your dreams.*

*Normal dream-conditions apply.


14 Responses to “In Der Mude”

  1. The best musical about Death os of course All That Jazz. But I can’t see Lang working with Fosse.

  2. this is hans beckert introducing himself from “M – the usical”

    i have to kill children to silence the voices
    they demand and demand and they leave me no choices

    so i spend all my money on balloonses and toyses
    to entice small children (girlses or boyses)

    in their school uniforms, or best sunday cardigans
    down lonely dark alleys, to deserted backyard-igans

    the urges are boilers and the voices have stoked ’em
    i’d shout “run!” to the child, but i’ve already choked ’em

  3. That might just be the best song about child murder I’ve ever heard!

    Fosse and Lang? Well, they were both insatiable ladies’ men, maybe they could compare notes.

    I forgot another Lang musical connection — Liliom, which became Carousel.

  4. short song for Edward G. Robinson to sing:

    pursued by greedy men without inhibitions
    hemmed in by geometric compositions
    framed by bad paintings and women in windows
    at least my career’s better than Delroy Lindo’s

  5. Beautiful! And I bet Eddie would have sung his lungs out with it.

    And what the hell went wrong with Delroy Lindo anyway?

  6. “Through early morning fog I see
    visions of the things to be
    the pains that are withheld for me
    I realize and I can see…
    that suicide is painless
    It brings on many changes
    and I can take or leave it if I please.
    I try to find a way to make
    all our little joys relate
    without that ever-present hate
    but now I know that it’s too late, and suicide is painless
    It brings on many changes
    and I can take or leave it if I please.
    The game of life is hard to play
    I’m gonna lose it anyway
    The losing card I’ll someday lay
    so this is all I have to say.
    suicide is painless
    It brings on many changes
    and I can take or leave it if I please.
    The only way to win is cheat
    And lay it down before I’m beat
    and to another give my seat
    for that’s the only painless feat.
    Cause suicide is painless
    It brings on many changes
    and I can take or leave it if I please.
    The sword of time will pierce our skins
    It doesn’t hurt when it begins
    But as it works its way on in
    The pain grows stronger…watch it grin, but…suicide is painless
    It brings on many changes
    and I can take or leave it if I please.
    A brave man once requested me
    to answer questions that are key
    is it to be or not to be
    and I replied ‘oh why ask me?’
    ‘Cause suicide is painless
    it brings on many changes
    and I can take or leave it if I please.
    …and you can do the same thing if you please.”

  7. That could work for quite a few of his films! Be great over the credits of The Big Heat.

  8. “the urges are boilers and the voices have stoked ’em…”

    what a brilliant line!

    “I wish I’d said that”

    “You will, Oscar, you will…”



  9. I’m hoping for great things from you, DJP! You can always find Lang plot synopses on the IMDb if you need inspiration…

  10. Leave it with me – I’ll have my agent call yours…

    In the meantime, the IMdb synopsis for Lang’s SCARLET STREET contains the following gem:-

    “Chris sees this as a way to go to Kitty permanently but discovering her in the arms of Johnny, Chris does something impulsive, and his future days are affected by his actions in the most dramatic ways.”

    We’ve all been there, ducky, but no-one’s filmed our lives yet…:-)



  11. Wow, what a vague and shifty synopsis!

    “Claudius sets a fiendish trap but Hamlet also does something and, as a result, stuff happens.”

  12. This is all your fault…:-)


    (with apologies to all concerned)

    Well my name is Chris Cross
    And I feel at a loss
    Been a lowly book-keeper for years
    And I wed sweet Adele
    Who has made my life hell
    And it’s driven me almost to tears

    When Johnny hit Kitty
    I felt full of pity
    So much so I laid him out flat
    Then I ran to the cops
    Cause I’d busted his chops
    But dear Kitty was knocked out at that

    I told her I painted
    And she nearly fainted
    As dollar signs flashed in her eyes
    While I fell besotted
    With Johnny she plotted
    I was too naive to realise

    So I got her a flat
    With some finances that
    I embezzled at night from my boss
    There my paintings I stored
    Cause Adele had abhorred
    My artwork as frivolous dross

    Then a dealer came round
    And thought he had found
    In Kitty an artist supreme
    And Adele’s ex appeared
    Hadn’t died as she’d feared
    It had all been a Dallas-like dream

    But then Johnny and Kitty
    Behaved intimitty
    I saw them and became deranged
    So I acted impulsive
    Did something repulsive
    Now my life will forever be changed…

    (c) 2008 Daniel Prendiville

  13. Wow. And it’s only Tuesday.

  14. […] a few days remain for you to enter our Fritz Lang songwriting contest and win the film of your dreams*! To kind of get you in der mude, I’ve knocked up a jaunty […]

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