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The Pulp Cinema of Fritz Lang

 

Wednesday, September 26---------Fritz Lang is perhaps best known for his pioneering work in the silent cinema of German Expressionism, with such films as DR. MABUSE and METROPOLIS often appearing on the Top Ten list of greatest films ever made. However, when he was forced to flee Nazi Germany because of his libertarian politics, Lang had a long, if bumpy, career in Hollywood, mostly making genre "b pictures". These films were regarded as the equivalent of "pulp fiction".....fast, violent and breezy melodramas. However, 45 years after his last film in the early 1960s, the genre films that Lang perfected have been reconsidered as minor classics of their kind. In many ways, the style he perfected influenced a whole generation of filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, William Friedkin and Quentin Tarantino.

This coming weekend, the Museum of the Moving Image presents a mini-series of Lang's ferocious fare from the 1950s, a pulp panorama of greed, violence, betrayal and the depth of human corruption. These are amazingly adult, mature and relevant films, with their underlying paranoia still very much a part of the American zeitgeist.

Saturday, September 29
4:30 p.m.
THE BLUE GARDENIA
1953, 90 mins. With Anne Baxter, Richard Conte, Ann Sothern. Unsure if she murdered a man the drunken night before, a telephone operator falls for the reporter covering the story. In Lang’s penetrating and paranoid view of post-war American bachelor culture, the heroine has to fend off predatory men—including the reporter, who wants to convict her, and marry her.

6:30 p.m.
THE BIG HEAT
1953, 89 mins. With Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Lee Marvin. Lang’s 1950s masterpiece chronicles corruption through all levels of American society, as an honest cop takes the law into his own hands after his wife is killed and he is removed from the force.

Sunday, September 30
3:00 p.m.
WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS
1956, 100 mins. With Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming. Lang surveys the entanglements of a team of reporters united professionally even as they backstab each other personally. Meanwhile, a serial killer stalks in the background. Lang’s ensemble thriller/comedy/media satire/anti-romance was one of his favorites of his films.

5:00 p.m.
BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT
1956, 80 mins. Archival 35mm print from George Eastman House. A reporter (Dana Andrews) attempting to expose problems with the judicial system frames himself for murder, but the evidence to prove him innocent goes up in smoke. No other work so clearly displays Lang’s passion for plot twists, as the audience and the protagonist find themselves trapped in a series of tales within tales.

   Sunday, September 30
3:00 p.m.
WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS
FRITZ LANG, KING OF NOIR
1956, 100 mins. 35mm. With Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming. Lang surveys the entanglements of a team of reporters united professionally even as they backstab each other personally. Meanwhile, a serial killer stalks in the background. Lang’s ensemble thriller/comedy/media satire/anti-romance was one of his favorites of his films.

5:00 p.m.
 BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT
FRITZ LANG, KING OF NOIR
1956, 80 mins. Archival 35mm print from George Eastman House. A reporter (Dana Andrews) attempting to expose problems with the judicial system frames himself for murder, but the evidence to prove him innocent goes up in smoke. No other work so clearly displays Lang’s passion for plot twists, as the audience and the protagonist find themselves trapped in a series of tales within tales.

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The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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