. Following the Fox westerns, not only is the director given the opportunity to return to terrain that’s more like his own but the treatment is unmistakably Langian: the camera movements, the heavy use of shadows, the many high (and low) angles, and various shots and mise-en-scène
s that recall some of his previous classic films and moments (notably the scene of the couple looking into a shop window and Walter Pidgeon as the spy about to be cornered by Nazis in the streets of London, both reminiscent of famous scenes in M
). It’s not a flawless work but I again found myself pretty much enchanted from beginning to end – each major sequence of the film is great fun, creatively and very attractively designed and filmed, with some visual pieces really among Lang’s best, like this one:
I would agree with previous posters that some of the the middle sections with the Joan Bennett character are a bit “clunky” and tamper down the suspense a bit, but I still find them enjoyable and charming in their own right. The foggy London setting and the focus on a working-class girl (prostitute) with a high-ranking officer (Thorndike is a captain) makes me think of Waterloo Bridge
, maybe even more the Leroy version because of the dark-haired Vivien Leigh (1940 – an influence here?).
That ending is also a great dramatic and suspense bit. And there’s a nice full-circle structure to the film where we go from the wilds to the city and back to the wilds again. (Perhaps visually echoed by the circle in that tunnel or the cover hole in the ship.) There are perhaps greater Lang films, but as a personal favorite this will end up high enough on my list.
. The original manhunt. I won’t go into any extensive commentary (there was some short but terrific discussion in the dedicated thread) – I just revisited this oft-seen film in order to verify that my appreciation deriving from my previous, fairly recent viewing still stood about the same, which it did. I guess I’m in the group that admires this film a lot, in large part for its originality, was wowed upon first viewing, but don’t derive enough pleasure from it in subsequent viewings, comparatively to some other Lang films, to place it in the highest ranks. (It would make my top 15 though). I think my (relative) trouble with it is the very long sections of the film that have to do mostly with the various groups’ investigations into what is going on and some of the digressions involved. I know this is Weimar cinema and it has a logic that isn’t the Hollywood cinema’s, but some of those sequences are a dramatically little dull to me (even though I may find interest in the detail of the sets, the photography, etc.) and memory can trick you but I felt there were not that many scenes that featured the Hans character. Between about 20 and 50 minutes into that movie, for example, it’s pretty much all about those different groups' activities, and I feel, obviously differently from other viewers here, that the strong emotions and impressions generated by the powerful beginning are somewhat diluted in the process. Similarly, it’s only with 14 left in the film that the formidable kangaroo court sequence starts. Still expecting this to be the list winner though.