ON SCREEN // HOP FILM
With gadgets, Russian femme fatales and a criminal mastermind, Fritz Lang’s classic silent spy comedy will appeal to the James Bond fan in each of us.
Fritz Lang helped invent all kinds of genres: science fiction (Metropolis), epic adventures (Die Nibelungen), arthouse (Der Müde Tod) and TV serials. And James Bond is the spawn of his 1928 Spies, with its sex, sin and a supervillain, as well as its technical gimmicks.
UFA had lost so much money on Metropolis that Lang wanted to prove he could make a commercial movie on a low budget. Gerda Maurus, straight out of Vienna, was the “virgin actress” who became a star thanks to Lang’s attention and care. And Spies indeed came in on schedule and was a popular success. Critics may have expected more of a “class” movie, but the unpretentious fun proves Lang’s resourcefulness, his curiosity for Roaring Twenties nightlife in Berlin, and, in every shot, his love for his heroine.
D: Fritz Lang, Germany, 1928, 2h30m
We saw this at the 2016 Telluride Film Festival and are thrilled to bring this rare gem to the Hop, programmed in conjunction with the Film Studies class on early cinema history. Fritz Lang is a perfect director to showcase in that context—but to be honest, we’ve included this digitally restored classic in the lineup because it was just plain fun to watch.
—Sydney and Johanna, Hop Film