Bismarck, Otto v.
Kleist, Heinrich v.
Ossietzky, Carl v.
Schinkel, Karl Friedrich
b. Dec. 5, 1890, Vienna, Austria-Hungary
d. Aug. 2, 1976, Los Angeles, Calif., U.S.
Austrian-born American motion-picture director whose films, dealing with fate and
man's inevitable working out of his destiny, are considered masterpieces of visual
The son of an architect, Lang briefly studied architecture at Vienna's Technical
University, then travelled widely before settling for a time in Paris as a painter. While
recovering from wounds suffered in the service of Austria during World War I, he
started to write screenplays; after the war he went to Berlin to work with Erich Pommer,
a German film producer.
His first successful picture as a director was "Der müde Tod" (1921; Between Worlds).
"Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler" (1922; Dr. Mabuse) studied a criminal mastermind; "Die
Nibelungen" (1924; released in two parts in the United States, "Siegfried" and
"Kriemhild's Revenge") was based on the early 13th-century German poem; "Metropolis"
(1926) was an Expressionist vision of the future; and "M" (1931), his most famous
German film, explored the compulsion to murder. "Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse"
(1932; The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse), in which a madman speaks Nazi philosophy,
attracted the attention of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazis' chief propagandist, who invited
Lang to supervise German films. Lang left for Paris the same evening and later moved
to the United States.
"Fury" (1936), a study of a lynch mob, is his most praised American film. Others
include "You Only Live Once" (1937), "Western Union" (1941), "Hangmen Also Die"
(1943), "Scarlet Street" (1945), "Clash by Night" (1952), "Rancho Notorious" (1952),
"Moonfleet" (1955), and "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" (1956).
"Lang, Fritz" Encyclopædia Britannica Online.