Erich Pommer

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Metropolis Review


Essential
Cinema history is full of stories about films shamefully hacked by studios and censors. And it still happens today. So this restored version of Lang's masterpiece is something to celebrate, both for its bravura filmmaking and the fact that this almost-complete version exists at all.

In a futuristic city where workers toil underground, the privileged class lives in modern splendour, enjoying its Son's Club and Eternal Gardens. But when Freder (Frohlich), son of the city's master Joh (Abel), goes underground in search of the beautiful Maria (Helm), he discovers the dark truth firsthand.

Back home, he challenges his father to create a more just system, then he teams up with a dismissed factory manager (Loos) to help launch a rebellion.

Continue reading: Metropolis Review

Metropolis (1927) Review


Extraordinary
Cinema history doesn't get much more relevant than the original Metropolis, Fritz Lang's masterwork, a grandiose and jaw-dropping epic that would look impressive for 2004 -- and which looks impossible for 1927, when it was originally produced. In 2026, the rich live in a majestic metropolis. The workers are sequestered underground in a sweltering pit that keeps everything humming above. From the lofty above-ground world to the nether regions goes one of the Thinkers. First he's searching for a girl (of course), but eventually he joins the workers in revolt. Classic, impressive, and an absolute you-must-watch-this-film experience for anyone who claims to be a movie buff.

Spies Review


Essential
"Throughout the world... strange events transpire." Thus reads the title card at the opening of Fritz Lang's great 1928 thriller Spies. Proof that the card is true arrives immediately afterward onscreen: we watch as a gloved hand removes a cache of official documents from a safe in the French Embassy in Shanghai. The documents are then whisked away by a cackling agent on motorcycle, and news of their theft is beamed from radio towers around the world. Next the Minister of Trade, riding in an open coupe, is fired upon from a passing vehicle, and we learn from a headline that he's died from his wounds. "What force is at play here?" another intertitle reads. And what could they hope to attain?

The answer, in Spies, is arrived at so pleasurably that it puts all but the very best of the cloak and dagger genre to shame. The plot follows the efforts of a handsome undercover agent named only No. 326 (Willy Fritsch) to prevent a treaty with the Japanese from leaving his homeland (Germany, one assumes, although it's never specified) despite the efforts of an evil mastermind named Haghi (the wonderful Rudolf Klein-Rogge) to see that it does. A secret agent, as we all know, leads a life of danger, and so it is that No. 326 is distracted in his efforts by the beautiful Sonia (Gerda Maurus), herself a spy in Haghi's employ. No. 326 falls in love with Sonia; will he learn the truth in time? Sonia may have fallen in love with No. 326; has she? And, if so, will she follow her heart or her oath to see the treaty across the frontier?

Continue reading: Spies Review

The Blue Angel Review


Excellent
Exceptionally high drama for its day, this tragic, tragic tale can tend to drag, but it's one of the best examples of well-realized filmmaking from the first half of the 20th century. Josef von Sternberg tells the story of a crusty professor (Emil Jannings) who discovers his students are frequenting a nightclub to see one Lola Lola (Marlene Dietrich). Determined to stop them, he goes to The Blue Angel himself, only to find himself instantly smitten with Lola. Ultimately he quits his job, marries Lola, and lives off his money until they go broke. He ends up becoming a clown, facing his most humiliating moment when he returns to The Blue Angel to appear on the stage. Heartbreaking to a fault, Jannings owns the show over the more highly-touted Dietrich; you can almost see the sadness oozing from his pores.

Continue reading: The Blue Angel Review

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Erich Pommer Movies

Metropolis Movie Review

Metropolis Movie Review

Cinema history is full of stories about films shamefully hacked by studios and censors. And...

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