Birthdate: Friday, December 5th, 1890
Location: Vienna, Austria-Hungary
Died: Monday, August 2nd, 1976
Location: Beverly Hills, California, USA
Cause of death: Stroke
Best known for: Pioneering director and producer from the German Expressionism school of film making who gave the world the groundbreaking spectacle of Metropolis (1927), as well as M (1931) and The Testament of Dr Mabuse (1933). However, he was never nominated for an Oscar, or indeed any of the major movie awards that Hollywood's glitterati crave.
Following the success of his European films, Hollywood signed Fritz up to cash in on his talent, and films such as Fury (1936), Ministry of Fear (1944), The Big Heat (1953) and Moonfleet (1955) were born in a 21-year career Stateside. But as the 1950s wore on it was becoming increasingly difficult for him to secure the financial backing from the Hollywood studios that he required, and after 1956's Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, he returned to Germany, lured by the opportunity to make a film of his ex-wife Thea von Harbou's novel Das Indische Grabmal, something he'd toyed with in 1921.
|Fritz, 69, on the set of The Tiger |
of Eschnapur with Debra Paget
Fritz's final film as director was a new installment in the Dr Mabuse series he'd begun in 1922 with the silent film Dr Mabuse the Gambler, followed by The Testament of Dr Mabuse in 1933 and continued that same year with The Last Will of Dr Mabuse. The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse was released in 1960 and starred Wolfgang Preiss as Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge had died in 1955). It was a big hit and led to a further series of five sequels led by German producer Artur Brauner, but Fritz, then aged 70, was never involved with the canon again. Neither did he direct or produce again.
|In Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt (1963),|
Fritz's film-making career ended with little fanfare, and he lived his final years quite frugally in his California home. By the 1960s he was registered legally blind, taking to wearing an eyepatch over his right eye. In 1964 he was chosen to be a judge on the Cannes Film Festival jury, and in the 1970s he apparently had a desire to make a film about the burgeoning hippie culture of the time, but this never materialised.
|Photographed for the|
New York Times in
1969, aged 79
Described by director Peter Bogdanovich as a lonely man in his final years, Fritz died, aged 85, of a stroke at his home in Summit Ridge Drive, Beverly Hills, in August 1976, and was interred at Forest Lawn cemetery in the Hollywood Hills in the Enduring Faith section. His third wife and widow Lily Latte was criticised after his death for the way she handled his estate - she destroyed many of his documents in an effort to protect his legacy.
|Fritz Lang, aged 85, interviewed by William Friedkin in 1974,|
the year before he died.