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Spies [Import]

Rudolf Klein-Rogge , Gerda Maurus , Fritz Lang    Unrated   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another great film by UFA Sept. 8 2010
By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
Script: Thea von Harbou - Writer (novel) (screenplay)
Direction: Fritz Lang
Sets: Otto Hunte, Kark Vollrecht
Camera: Fritz Arno Wagner
Original Music: Werner R. Heymann (238 titles)

This fill has all the trills and what now has become clichés from gangster car chases to where the man says I saw who did it and "bang!" AAaaaag. "I'd sooner die like a dog can become a traitor!" If I did not know any better, I would think this was the prototype for the 007 series. Only this time it is No. 326 "Det. Donald Tremaine, English version" (Willy Fritsch). In addition, our beautiful counter spy Sonya Baranilkowa (Gerda Maurus) who's purpose naturally is to reluctantly derail Donald.

I would be lost if it we not for the English subtitles. The only problem is that the many times cover the actual documents in German and it would be nice to see if we are missing something in the translation.

You may want to watch this several times to get all the nuances.

The UFA Story: A History of Germany's Greatest Film Company 1918-1945
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  30 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Birth Of The Modern Spy Film. Nov. 14 2004
By Chip Kaufmann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
SPIES appropriately marks the beginning of the modern spy thriller as we know it today. It features an intrepid hero, a beautiful woman with divided loyalties and a cunning and diabolical villain. There is also international intrigue, bedroom politics, gadgets galore and spectacular stunts. What raises it above the ordinary is Fritz Lang's passion for detail and the emphasis on the principal woman character.

Women are the central focus of Lang's films during the 1920's from Kriemhild in DIE NIBELUNGEN to Maria in METROPOLIS and Friede in WOMAN IN THE MOON thanks to scriptwriter Thea von Harbou (Lang's wife at the time) whose stories concentrate on the power of love to redeem or destroy. Sonja in SPIES is no exception. Everything revolves around her. Put all this together and you have a film that is as compelling today as it was 75 years ago.

Rudolf Klein-Rogge (the inventor from METROPOLIS) stars as Haghi, the head of a powerful criminal network whose specialties are blackmail and espionage. Trying to catch him is Agent 326 (Willy Fritsch) of the German State Police where no one has a name only a number. Things are complicated by Haghi's #1 spy Sonja Barranikowa (Gerda Maurus) who is great at obtaining secrets but is haunted by her past. How these characters interact and how the plot resolves itself is what makes SPIES so captivating. There's also a real doozy of an ending.

The restoration work is remarkable adding more than 50 minutes to previous existing versions and the picture quality is superb. Add Donald Sosin's new score and you have a real winner on your hands. Even if you don't know or don't like silent films you'll be entertained. And if you do like them then you can't afford to miss out on this new release from Kino.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Fritz Lang's best! Nov. 25 2004
By Barbara (Burkowsky) Underwood - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It's probably impossible to top "Metropolis", but "Spies" must surely rate as one of Fritz Lang's best films, and this brilliant KINO video DVD clearly shows why. Restored from the best footage from various sources to almost 2 1/2 hours in length, this epic can be watched again and again without ever a dull moment. This is mainly due to quite a complex and fast-moving storyline which demands considerable attention, but well worth the effort and it keeps getting better the more you watch it. Although a lot happens all around in the spy world, the focus is on two individuals who fall in love while assigned to spy out each other's network and activities. The criminal matermind whose spy network undermines the government has become the classic spy movie theme, and watching "Spies" reminded me of James Bond more than once. It is sophisticated and must have been cutting edge in its time, but it still packs a punch even today - much like Fritz Lang's previous great achievement, "Metropolis", of which "Spies" often reminded me. Besides excellent picture quality and easy-to-read intertitles, the musical score is simply brilliant and really caught my attention, such as authentic Japanese music accompanying the scenes of the Japanese head of Secret Service, while other parts feature nice orchestral and piano accompaniment. It is never overbearing however, and always perfectly suited to the mood of each scene, adding to the overall impact of the film. For a busy story with action, suspense, intrigue and an unexpected ending, you can't do much better than this restored version of "Spies".
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly modern treatment Jan. 25 2011
By Steve Reina - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
The 1920s really was Fritz Lang's era. What Stanley Kubrick would later spend a lifetime doing, Lang managed in a mere decade...he remade every genre he touched.

Most prominently he re-made science fiction with Metropolis and later Woman on the Moon.

In terms of fantasy, he re-made that area with one my all time favorites Destiny as well as his Die Nieblinglun series.

And in this excellent film, Lang re-made the espionage movie impuing it with qualities that would remain very current into today's James Bond series.

First, he took a plausible uber spy with dashing looks played by Willy Fritsch. Then he added the arch nemesis played by Rudolph Klein Rogge (who also starred in Lang's Mabuse series as the title character). Finally, he gave them cool gadgets to use in their battles with each other.

As with all his films from the 1920s the writing was under the sure hand of Lang's then wife, Thea von Harbou.

What emerges is not only a very recognizable spy movie but one that actually became the template for all spy movies to follow.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars James Bond's Grandfather March 21 2008
By wiredweird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
If you simply take the movie at face value, it's an exciting story from the silent era. This came out during that nervous time between the World Wars. People remembered Russia's recent actions in WWI, and remembered Japan's war with Russia, a few decades past, as a clear indication of a force affecting the West. Weimar Germany represented another unstable force. Soviet infighting was also recent news, as the Trotsky-esque bad guy reminds us. Fiction about international intrigue had plenty of fact to work with - so Lang produced this remarkable work. The modern music suits the movie beautifully. Although other instruments appear, solo piano carries most of the musical narration. Even though it's not synchronized to the imagery on screen, onomatopoetic passage trill to a ringing phone, syncopate to the staccato of Morse Code, and hammer out gunshots, when not simply voicing the general mood of the scene.

Amid the excitement that must have been high-budget in its time, we see the origins of the modern spy-movie staples we see today: elaborate and fallible plots on the good guy's life, the bad guy's lair coming down around his ears in the end, chases, a babe who's not just there to be saved, and a little moral ambiguity. Sonja wasn't 100% on the good guys' side, at least to start, even if she came around in the end.

Anyone with the Bourne movies or Mission Impossible in mind will find the pacing sleepy at best, the effects ineffectual, and the acting as stylized as Kabuki theater. Today's movies learned from this one, though, and from the eighty more years of development between then and now. Taken by itself or as the progenitor of modern spy flicks, it remains an important and engrossing movie.

-- wiredweird
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 145 minutes seem like half an hour Sept. 14 2005
By Pablo Martin Podhorzer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Incredibly entertaining spy saga, with emphasis in the use of technology and women for deceit. Lang (as usual) is here visually inventive, suggestive and very fluid. Even when we know what will happen in the next minute (and you can't really see farther than that here) he does it with surprising little twists that make you yearn for a contemporary director like him. If only were a little bit more cinic: is difficult to understand the love central to the story. But it seems that in the end there is hope, honour and love between people.
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