Monday, August 10, 2009

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum for Fritz Lang's SPIES

And that's after a full day of volunteering in their gift shop.

First, a couple of shorts:

ORANGES AND LEMONS (1923): Stan Laurel (before teaming up with Oliver Hardy) causes a great deal of confusion and chaos in a citrus orchard. Lots and lots of people get pelted by oranges.

OUR DAREDEVIL CHIEF (1915): A Keystone Cops comedy. Crooks plan to rob and blow up the mayor, and even frame the police chief (Fred Sterling) for it. The chief helps them out by being a bumbling idiot. Lots of slapstick gags, mostly funny, and an excellent example of Mack Sennet's Keystone philosophy that if you keep the gags coming fast enough, no one will have time to notice if they're bad.

Then an intermission, and then the feature presentation of Fritz Lang's SPIES (1928). This is the genesis of a genre, the movie that started it all. Spies (of course), gadgets, subterfuge, secret identities, femme fatales (but no double-entendre names), etc. There's even the femme fatale falling in love with the good spy. The plot revolves around a secret treaty and an evil mastermind (oh yeah, in a wheelchair!) stealing every copy of it for his own nefarious purposes (which were never quite clear. They can't just send another copy of the treaty?) Oh yeah, the treaty is between an unnamed country (I assume either the UK or USA) and Japan, which does lead to a pretty spectacular seppuku scene. And this was just the 90 minute version. There's a ~145 minute version on DVD that I haven't seen. Awesome.

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