Fritz, That’s It

ministry of fear six sheet small

In keeping with my monomaniacal commitment to review every single Fritz Lang film that appears on home video, here’s an account of Criterion’s very nice new release of Lang’s 1944 quasi-propaganda film, “Ministry of Fear.” It may fade out into conventionality toward the end (though doubtless there are those of you who disgaree), but the first couple of reels are gangbusters — possibly Lang’s most spectacular return to Weimar stylistics, apart from “Secret Beyond the Door.”

Also, a few words about Clive Brook’s “On Approval,” another 1944 release that acknowledges the war only enough to indicate that it is deliberately avoiding the subject. An adaptation of a stage farce by Frederick Lonsdale, it’s Brook’s only job of direction, and a surprisingly free-form one, full of baring-the-device moments that Frank Tashlin might have dreamed up (though Tashlin’s would probably have been funnier). The great attraction of the film is the presence of Beatrice Lillie, the brilliant Canadian farceur whose one appearance as a silent clown, in Sam Taylor’s 1926 “Exit Smiling,” suggest that the movies lost out on a very big talent.

203 comments to Fritz, That’s It

  • Robert Regan

    Back to Dwan for a moment. Among Grapevine’s releases this month is his 1919 romantic comedy Getting Mary Married. It’s a charming film, if somewhat old-fashioned for its time, particularly when compared to DeMille’s marital comedies. There are some imaginative shots and significant framing, but the treat is seeing Marion Davies in her early twenties. Her skill in a relatively conventional role is quite evident (those eyes!), though she is not given much opportunity to display her comedic gifts that made her work so memorable, as early as Little Old New York four years later. This is probably the earliest Dwan I have seen and certainly the earliest Davies. I want more of both!

  • Alex Hicks

    Loved “2000 Eyes of Dr. Marbuse,” liiked it more more than maybe all post-1950 –indeed 1946– Langs except “Big Heat” and maybe “Moonfleet”–though hardly enough to start thinking of late Lang as better than German or pre-1951 Hollywood Lang. Doubt that I’ll ever like ” Rancho Notorious” morte than the little I now do after a few viewings, but maybe I should see the Eschnapur/Tomb films, which I enjoyed as a kid but recall as kid’s movies.

    The economical Sinister Cinema DVD of “2000 Eyes of Dr. Marbuse” is good quality.

  • alex

    BTW the Portugues Dvd of Losey ‘s “M ” available via Amazon is pretty good quality and arrives
    quickly.