Archive for Fritz Lang

This also was a Train of Death

Posted in FILM with tags , , on March 5, 2019 by dcairns

Masters of Cinema very kindly sent me a care package of Blu-Rays, including Fritz Lang’s HUMAN DESIRE. Lang films always come in pairs. This one could be doubled with SCARLET STREET because they’re both Renoir remakes, but in fact that one has to be paired with THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (which I’m currently working on an extra for) because of it has the same three leads. HUMAN DESIRE rightly should go with either THE BIG HEAT (it has Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame too) or with the similarly documentary-looking CLASH BY NIGHT.

Hmm, maybe I should do the pointless exercise: pairing all of Lang’s films?


THE TESTAMENT OF DR MABUSE can be paired with THE THOUSAND EYES OF, bracketing Lang’s whole American phase.

BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT feels of a piece with WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS and both star Dana Andrews and they were made back-to-back, which is more typical of Lang’s double features.

Everything from ’50 to ’55 is just crazy. MOONFLEET and the vastly inferior AN AMERICAN GUERILLA IN THE PHILIPPINES (that title!) are in colour but so is RANCHO NOTORIOUS… maybe throw out AAGITP as a bad job and just pair the two colour period films. If we put HUMAN DESIRE with THE BIG HEAT then CLASH BY NIGHT couples up with THE BLUE GARDENIA, which I’m not sure about. But I guess each is what Michael Douglas would call a “sexy-type film.”

SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR and THE HOUSE BY THE RIVER exemplify Lang’s architectural concerns and they are both NUTS.


Wartime: MAN HUNT and MINISTRY OF FEAR and HANGMEN ALSO DIE and the later CLOAK AND DAGGER are all ace espionage pics. The first two have hunted heroes so I’d pair them like that.

The first two westerns, THE RETURN OF FRANK JAMES and WESTERN UNION could make a double feature, but one could instead pair TROFJ with the other Hank Fonda starrer, YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE. That might mess up my scheme.

FURY and YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE have a lot in common though.

LILIOM might be the best match for YOU AND ME because neither is otherwise a match with anything.

METROPOLIS belongs, probably, with the other sci-fi epic, WOMAN IN THE MOON.

Several of the very early ones I haven’t seen yet: but I made a video essay for DER MUDE TOD and I suspect DAS WANDERNDE BILD would be a good fit.

Listicles are silly things. But maybe there’s something here, something about Lang’s working practices, each film serving as a kind of commentary on or rebuttal of its partner. Anyway, you get a sense of how I like to waste my time (and yours).


The Big Box Set

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 9, 2017 by dcairns

Thrilled to be a part — or several parts — of Arrow Academy’s Four Film Noir Classics box set. I have provided video essays on Fritz Lang for SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR (House of Lang), and Joseph H Lewis for THE BIG COMBO (Wagonwheel Joe), both in collaboration with editor Timo Langer. Those were huge fun and should serve as helpful intros to the filmmakers work while hopefully providing interest and entertainment even to those who are very familiar with their oeuvres. For the hardback booklet (can a hardback be a booklet?) I wrote a piece on Robert Siodmak and THE DARK MIRROR, which puts me alongside pieces by Tony Rayns, Michael Brooke and Andrew Spicer, which is pretty good company to be in. I feel like a fraud!

This means the only film in the set I didn’t get to talk about is Abraham Polonsky’s FORCE OF EVIL. Awww, why not? I love that film!

Momo the crazy Tonkinese did nose this set onto the floor, but the incident wasn’t captured on camera. You’ll have to take his continuing enthusiasm for my work on faith.

The set is available now ~ here.

One out of one cats prefers it

Posted in Comics, FILM, Television with tags , , , , , , on November 24, 2017 by dcairns


Wondering what to buy the cat in your life for Christmas? (Get that cat out of there!) Why not oblige the kitty with Fritz Lang’s DER MÜDE TOD? This 1921 silent German classic contains, along with the beneficial functional bacteria, all the key nutrients your cat needs, including Omega 6 fatty acids, and an umlaut. Also, the plastic casing seems to provoke some kind of fetishistic sniff/taste response.

I made a video essay for this one with Timo Langer, which I think turned out reasonably well, and you also get a fine Tim Lucas commentary track full of scholarly info. I was pleased to see we didn’t overlap too much, and he didn’t prove me wrong on too many key points, and while I felt he may have included one too many Spider-Man references, I top that in the shame stakes by dragging in the TV show Quantum Leap and the Bill Cosby film THE DEVIL AND MAX DEVLIN.