[Update: This week’s mystery movie has been Fritz Lang’s 1928 film “Spies,” starring Willy Fritsch, Gerda Maurus and Rudolf Klein-Rogge and released on DVD by KINO. ]
I’m still moving into my new place but I don’t want to go for even a day without a mystery photo. Have fun! The trick this week (in case you can’t read my mind) is to identify the movie.
There’s a new photo on the jump!
I started “Spies” with high hopes. The exposition is suitably vague, like a silent version of “The X-Files,” and the film, photographed by Fritz Arno Wagner with art direction by Otto Hunte and Karl Vollbrecht, is full of stunning visuals.
A fantasy sequence involving dead Japanese spies!
Once the plot detours into a love story between two spies (Willy Fritsch and Gerda Maurus) it becomes a rather tedious exercise in scenery chewing. Even in light of the exaggerated gestures of silent film – and granted, the story is a fantasy – the forehead grabbing and desk pounding, etc., are wearing.
Fortunately, “Spies” has a great villain in Rudolf Klein-Rogge (also seen in “Metropolis” and “Dr. Mabuse,”) an evil genius with a wicked hairdo who has all sorts of modernistic equipment at his command. He would be perfectly at home in a James Bond film.
The worst thing about this movie – and it’s really dreadful – is the chintzy score by Donald Sosin, done with a synthesizer and minimal creativity. I can’t think of a clearer example to show how a lousy score can sink a film. I’m not sure even Bernard Herrmann or Carl Davis could have saved “Spies,” but it would be more fun.
“Spies” was apparently done on a lavish budget – it even has a train crash:
In fact, it has just about everything, which is part of the problem. There are so many twists and turns in the sprawling script by Fritz Lang, based on a novel by Thea von Harbou (a.k.a. Mrs. Fritz Lang and Mrs. Klein-Rogge), it’s no wonder that the film endured a fairly ruthless pruning after it was released.
“Spies” is an interesting look at what Lang did aside from “Metropolis” before he made “M.” Watch it with the sound muted.
[Update: Please congratulate Mike Hawks and Stacia for identifying our mystery film!]
Here’s our mystery photo for Monday!
[Update: The Brain Trust never fails. Please congratulate C. Stuart and Sarah for identifying our mystery film! You folks are incredible!]
Here’s our photo for Tuesday. How about that desk clock?
[Please congratulate Mary Mallory for identifying our mystery film! Mike Hawks and Mary have identified the cast and Stacia says: Yay! I wondered how long it would be before my beloved …. would show up.]
And for Wednesday, we have a mystery lady!
For Thursday, a mystery boxing ring shot from high overhead, typical of our mystery director.
And then the mystery boxing ring turns into a dance floor!
For Friday, a mystery fellow with a mustache!
For Saturday, we have three shots of our mystery clown.
The first two show an instrument that I have only seen in books. It’s called a Stroh violin and was equipped with two horns to amplify the sound.
Here are some examples: