Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast
The name of Fritz Lang - the visionary director of 'Metropolis, ' 'M, ' 'Fury, ' 'The Big Heat, ' and 30 other unforgettable motion pictures - is hallowed the world over. But what lurks behind his greatest legends, and his genius as a filmmaker? Was he a closet Nazi in Germany, and later, a virtual Communist in America? Did he really refuse an offer from Hitler to become the Third Reich's "Fuhrer of Film" before he fled to the United States in the early 1930s, or was this oft-repeated anecdote the embroidered invention of an ingenious storyteller? Was Lang a sensitive and compassionate artist, as well as a lover of famous women (among them his Berlin compatriot Marlene Dietrich)? Or was he a sadomasochistic beast whose torturous on-set behavior was mirrored, off the job, in a sordid love life crowded with prostitutes and mistresses? Did Fritz Lang, preoccupied with murder in his work, in fact kill his own first wife - who died mysteriously in his presence after catching him in the arms of the Nazi-leaning screenwriter who became his second wife? Patrick McGilligan spent four years in Europe and America, interviewing Lang's dying contemporaries, researching government and film archives, and investigating the life story of Fritz Lang. His definitive biography - the only such book on Lang, who encouraged publicity but discouraged the truth - reconstructs the fascinating, flawed human being behind the monster with the monocle.
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