Tag Archives: Fritz Lang

XL Popcorn – The Big Heat

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 901/1009Title: The Big Heat
Director: Fritz Lang
Year: 1953
Country: USA

When a film noir shoots on all cylinders, doesn’t overcomplicate the plot and finds a way to not rely so much on cliché… well you get The Big Heat. A lot of the noirs that I have done in recent years have been fine, but none that come to mind managed to hit the heights that I was hoping for. Then again, that might just be the magic of Fritz Lang.

The man who brought the wonders of and Metropolis may have also brought me one of the best film noirs that I have ever seen. It starts like any normal noir, someone has died in mysterious circumstances and a grizzled homicide detective is out to solve the mystery of this… and the rest of the crimes that follow.

What makes The Big Heat interesting is just how much it is able to subvert the classic noir tropes. For example, the whole film sees us watching both sides of the law plotting against one another – which is something that I know does happen in other noirs, but this film managed to do it in such a fashion that it felt like a true battle of one-upmanship. You also have a ‘hero’ who almost does the unthinkable.

The other thing that is very interesting about The Big Heat is the flashes of violence. Given this is the 1950s and we are still in the Code era, everything is pretty much done off screen with the exception of an attempted murder and a woman being burned with a cigarette (although that was still pretty concealed under his hand). Two of the biggest flashes also coincide with two of the more shocking moments – one of which I saw coming, but it was still pretty shocking.

At not even 90 minutes long, this film manages to rattle through the plot with some brilliant performances all around. Like, this is one of those films where I would be interested to see it again, just to see how much I would enjoy it knowing everything that’s going to happen. I think it wouldn’t make a difference, but one day I’ll see.

XL Popcorn – Dr. Mabuse the Gambler

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 620/1007
Title: Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (Dr. Mabuse der Spieler)
Director: Fritz Lang
Year: 1922
Country: Germany

Ah Dr. Mabuse der Spieler, a movie so long that it was originally released in two parts. Probably means that this should be worth two entries on the 1001 list… but then again this is a list that contains Toy Story as a trilogy.

At just over 4 hours long it would have made sense for me to have watched this as the original two parts, but then YouTube started the second part automatically and I had nowhere to be. That sounds a bit sad, but this is what I do with my time off in lieu.

Now, if I’m being honest, the story doesn’t exactly warrant a 4 hour running time. There are times where this feels like a number of short stories that have been stitched together to make one long movie. As such there were times (mainly the middle of the first part) where I began to feel a tiny bit confused.

However, the performance of Rudolf Klein-Rogge as the titular Dr Mabuse manages to keep you engaged the whole time is great as the titular doctor (a small break in the middle helps this). As a character he’s painted with broad strokes and it’s hard to really get a grip on what his supernatural powers are, but at least we get a glimpse of his motivations: he’s basically evil, bored and wants to spend his time messing with people.

In the end this is what the film is about – Dr Mabuse ruining people for his own game and him being chased by State Prosecutor Von Wenk (who was sometimes referred to as Von Wank in the subtitles). As you would expect from the director of Metropolis, there are some pretty great  set pieces e.g. the stock market and the seance.

With all this there is enough to keep you entertained, but I just wander how much more I would have liked this if there was a more edited down version. Same goes for if there was sound, but I feel that way about all silent movies.

I just noticed this, but Dr. Mabuse der Spieler is the 202nd film I have seen from the 1001 list since I started this blog. I know that a large number of these (possibly the majority) came from my time with