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So disappointed in HANGMEN ALSO DIE!


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Wow.

 

I had never seen this before and really wanted to and...man, what a letdown, albeit a surprising one.

 

Why didn't this film work? You have a gifted German filmmaker who knows his source material- both in terms of the people whose story he is telling and the dark nature of it; a writer (Bertolt Brecht!) of whom the same can be said, a contemporary (for the time) story and some solid production values but somewhere along the line:

 

pfffffffffffffffffft!

 

Nearly plotless and episodic to the point where it becomes rather like many of the anti-Japanese films released around the same time that served more as exploitation than nutritive storytelling; clunky dialogue, characters who serve as mere mouthpieces for the standard jingoistic sentiments, and - a trademark of late thirties and early forties films of the time-  a film made by Germans and eastern-Europeans about Germans and eastern-Europeans wherein every one of the principles could not have possibly been less German or eastern-European.

 

Seriously: this thing makes THE MORTAL STORM look positively authentic in detail.

 

Because when you're casting the role of a rebellious, intellectual, native Czech Professor, who better to get than Walter Brennan?- who seems at all times to be about to clang on the trangle to let everybody know the "grub's on." And as his daughter- Anna Lee- whose obvious British accent is at least geographically closer to the nationality she's playing. Dennis O'Keefe, Gene Lockhart and Brian Donlevey round out the rest of the cast of CZECHOSLOVAKIAN characters- I suppose Andy Devine, Charles Coburn, and George Raft were unavailable.

 

And these clearly not Czech actors speak in heavy American slang too. Seriously. It's like watching The Dead End Kids do THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV off-Broadway.

 

...And then they go and use a handful of authentic Europeans in the Nazi roles, which just makes all the Americans look and sound worse.

 

What a mess!

 

(I have to admit: I did not make it to the end.)

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Totally with you on these comments.  I tried to stick with it but in the end I was bored senseless.

How can Nazis and attempted mass murder be so damn dull??!  Takes a genius (or a couple of geniuses) to accomplish that.  

 

Lydecker

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Wow.

 

I had never seen this before and really wanted to and...man, what a letdown, albeit a surprising one.

 

Why didn't this film work? You have a gifted German filmmaker who knows his source material- both in terms of the people whose story he is telling and the dark nature of it; a writer (Bertolt Brecht!) of whom the same can be said, a contemporary (for the time) story and some solid production values but somewhere along the line:

 

pfffffffffffffffffft!

 

Nearly plotless and episodic to the point where it becomes rather like many of the anti-Japanese films released around the same time that served more as exploitation than nutritive storytelling; clunky dialogue, characters who serve as mere mouthpieces for the standard jingoistic sentiments, and - a trademark of late thirties and early forties films of the time-  a film made by Germans and eastern-Europeans about Germans and eastern-Europeans wherein every one of the principles could not have possibly been less German or eastern-European.

 

Seriously: this thing makes THE MORTAL STORM look positively authentic in detail.

 

Because when you're casting the role of a rebellious, intellectual, native Czech Professor, who better to get than Walter Brennan?- who seems at all times to be about to clang on the trangle to let everybody know the "grub's on." And as his daughter- Anna Lee- whose obvious British accent is at least geographically closer to the nationality she's playing. Dennis O'Keefe, Gene Lockhart and Brian Donlevey round out the rest of the cast of CZECHOSLOVAKIAN characters- I suppose Andy Devine, Charles Coburn, and George Raft were unavailable.

 

And these clearly not Czech actors speak in heavy American slang too. Seriously. It's like watching The Dead End Kids do THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV off-Broadway.

 

...And then they go and use a handful of authentic Europeans in the Nazi roles, which just makes all the Americans look and sound worse.

 

What a mess!

 

(I have to admit: I did not make it to the end.)

That's why there's chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

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That's why there's chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

OY!

 

AND I guess that's why there's also profundity and statements like THAT one!  :rolleyes:

 

What the OP saw as a pointless mess just might also be some OTHER member's favorite movie on the subject.  Not MINE, as I couldn't get as far as the OP did!

 

Despite the cast and others involved in the making of this egg, The LAYING of said egg was all too obvious.  It can happen to anybody.  I mean, look at it this way....

 

The same guys who delighted audiences with DUCK SOUP also gave us THE BIG STORE!  :wacko:

 

 

Sepiatone

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OY!

 

AND I guess that's why there's also profundity and statements like THAT one!  :rolleyes:

 

What the OP saw as a pointless mess just might also be some OTHER member's favorite movie on the subject.  Not MINE, as I couldn't get as far as the OP did!

 

Despite the cast and others involved in the making of this egg, The LAYING of said egg was all too obvious.  It can happen to anybody.  I mean, look at it this way....

 

The same guys who delighted audiences with DUCK SOUP also gave us THE BIG STORE!  :wacko:

 

 

Sepiatone

And that's why there are opinions.

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It's worth noting, I think, that Lang didn't really hit his stride in American pictures (not fulfilling the promise he showed with FURY in 1935 at least) until immediately after HANGMEN ALSO DIE! : his next three pictures being the far superior MINISTRY OF FEAR, THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and SCARLET STREET- the last of which could not be better as a film.

 

It's the full spectrum of quality with Lang- from some of the best films of the 20th century (METROPOLIS, M, SCARLET STREET, THE BIG HEAT and I love RANCHO NOTORIOUS) to some good films that could be better (THE BLUE GARDENIA, HUMAN DESIRE, WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS) to a some noteable failures in execution (CLASH BY NIGHT, SECRET BEHIND THE DOOR and HANGMEN.)

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LornaHansonForbes--I agree & disagree with you.  Individual elements go spectacularly wrong, but overall film works.  First, where I

agree with you.  Anna Lee is SO wrong for her role.  And she's SO naive (you'd think she'd have figured out for herself the Nazis were bad news) re Nazis & plain human nature (her giving shelter to a man after the Nazis have threatened to kill him & anyone sheltering him)--ARRGGHHH--she stops the film in its tracks, in parts.

 

Yes, Brian Donlevy sticks out like a sore thumb, and doesn't even attempt to fit in.  An undefendable idiocy.  The Resistance fighters HAD to "fit in"  Everything they valued and fought for depended on that fact.

 

The slang should have been replaced by plain non-slangy English, or  a foreign language.  Please let me explain.  The opening 10 minutes, when the actor who played Colonel Klink(?) in Hogan's Heroes, the 60's sitcom, was terrifying to me in the early part of the film in a serious role as a Nazi (at least partially because I speak 5 words of German--maybe).  He yelled and screamed, all in German.  The terror of outsiders coming in & taking over your country was very effectively conveyed.

 

That film was badly/dreadfully miscast--no argument.

 

Where I DO argue--One, film was based on an incident where Nazis slaughtered a whole village.  Film was based on fact (although, in his intro, Osborne said the extent of the atrocity was unknown when filming of HAD began).   I can't imagine how powerful HAD must have seemed when full extent of the incident became known in the U.S.   Two, cut away all the surface inanities--which is tough--in the last hour of the film, the actors all (yes, even Anna Lee) get at emotions which are like tearing away a bandage from a not fully healed wound.  The emotions hurt.  And through that,  for me, HAD transcends all its' mistakes, somehow.

 

Since I can't tell (my bad) if you're unhappy about this part of HAD from your post, I'll finish up with this: HAD was meant to be a flag-waving, jingoistic picture; the final title had "NOT!" superimposed over "The End.  One thing Osborne said after the film; only one scene Brecht had written survived the final cut; the final scene between Lee's character and her father. 

 

HAD is a member of a minority of films that work despite almost everything that was done wrong.  For what it's worth, I rank it in Langs top half of American films--just barely.

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It's worth noting, I think, that Lang didn't really hit his stride in American pictures (not fulfilling the promise he showed with FURY in 1935 at least) until immediately after HANGMEN ALSO DIE! : his next three pictures being the far superior MINISTRY OF FEAR, THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and SCARLET STREET- the last of which could not be better as a film.

 

It's the full spectrum of quality with Lang- from some of the best films of the 20th century (METROPOLIS, M, SCARLET STREET, THE BIG HEAT and I love RANCHO NOTORIOUS) to some good films that could be better (THE BLUE GARDENIA, HUMAN DESIRE, WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS) to a some noteable failures in execution (CLASH BY NIGHT, SECRET BEHIND THE DOOR and HANGMEN.)

How can you leave out HOUSE BY THE RIVER-- definitely one of Lang's best in Hollywood (made at Republic). 

 

THE BIG HEAT in my opinion is his best American film. It just doesn't get better than that. 

 

WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS is underrated and seems ahead of its time in the ways that it casually shows a serial killer living among a city of innocents (sort of like M). 

 

The Lang film that I think doesn't live up to its potential is BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT. Interesting premise but seems to fall flat.

 

HANGMEN ALSO DIE, meanwhile, is one that needs to be watched more than once to appreciate the full scope of what it tries to accomplish (and does in fact accomplish).

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LornaHansonForbes--I agree & disagree with you.  Individual elements go spectacularly wrong, but overall film works.  First, where I

agree with you.  Anna Lee is SO wrong for her role.  And she's SO naive (you'd think she'd have figured out for herself the Nazis were bad news) re Nazis & plain human nature (her giving shelter to a man after the Nazis have threatened to kill him & anyone sheltering him)--ARRGGHHH--she stops the film in its tracks, in parts.

 

Yes, Brian Donlevy sticks out like a sore thumb, and doesn't even attempt to fit in.  An undefendable idiocy.  The Resistance fighters HAD to "fit in"  Everything they valued and fought for depended on that fact.

 

The slang should have been replaced by plain non-slangy English, or  a foreign language.  Please let me explain.  The opening 10 minutes, when the actor who played Colonel Klink(?) in Hogan's Heroes, the 60's sitcom, was terrifying to me in the early part of the film in a serious role as a Nazi (at least partially because I speak 5 words of German--maybe).  He yelled and screamed, all in German.  The terror of outsiders coming in & taking over your country was very effectively conveyed.

 

That film was badly/dreadfully miscast--no argument.

 

Where I DO argue--One, film was based on an incident where Nazis slaughtered a whole village.  Film was based on fact (although, in his intro, Osborne said the extent of the atrocity was unknown when filming of HAD began).   I can't imagine how powerful HAD must have seemed when full extent of the incident became known in the U.S.   Two, cut away all the surface inanities--which is tough--in the last hour of the film, the actors all (yes, even Anna Lee) get at emotions which are like tearing away a bandage from a not fully healed wound.  The emotions hurt.  And through that,  for me, HAD transcends all its' mistakes, somehow.

 

Since I can't tell (my bad) if you're unhappy about this part of HAD from your post, I'll finish up with this: HAD was meant to be a flag-waving, jingoistic picture; the final title had "NOT!" superimposed over "The End.  One thing Osborne said after the film; only one scene Brecht had written survived the final cut; the final scene between Lee's character and her father. 

 

HAD is a member of a minority of films that work despite almost everything that was done wrong.  For what it's worth, I rank it in Langs top half of American films--just barely.

 

Dang.

 

Now you're making me want to go back and watch the last half-hour (I quit watching before the end)...although (and this may make me sound bad) I am surprised by how little of the movie I now remember, and I watched  over an hour of it (!) Seriously, I really cannot remember many of the plot details at all, there is either not enough or they're not very memorable.

 

but we are simpatico when it comes to the naivety of Anna Lee's character....and Donlevey's visible lack of effort (I yelled at my screen a couple times last night: "Brian, do you even want to be in this movie?")

 

I get that the studio had to make the movie and characters relateable to Americans- and, yeah, I felt that sense of isolation is heightened by the genuine Germans appearing as Nazis and speaking German- but you and I are on the same page with the dialogue needing a big overhaul with regard to the Czech protagonists. The filmmakers go way overboard with the Americanization of the cast and in the process, we lost the sense that this is about a real place and real people.

 

ps- HITLER'S MADMEN (1943) with John Carradine tells the same story and I would like very much to see it.

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I think this was probably a good anti-Nazi propaganda film for 1943 audiences, since the Nazis were so mean and it took so few of them to totally control all the nice mild and decent people in that town. But it certainly hasn't held up as any kind of "classic".

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'Cause I haven't seen it....(but I'd like to, so thanks for pointing it out.)

(Some of us just aren't as "down with the streets" as others.)

LOL...it's a pet peeve of mine..HOUSE BY THE RIVER is the Lang title that every noir enthusiast should see (but probably hasn't seen). I believe you can find it on Amazon Prime streaming and as a disc rental through Netflix and ClassicFlix.

 

It is obvious, if you watch it closely, that Hitchcock was very much inspired by HOUSE BY THE RIVER when he made PSYCHO. Louis Hayward's character is a precursor to Norman, and the gothic mansion in HOUSE is a prototype for the Bates home.

 

Hitch even steals the idea of submerging the body in a murky body of water.

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How can you leave out HOUSE BY THE RIVER-- definitely one of Lang's best in Hollywood (made at Republic). 

 

THE BIG HEAT in my opinion is his best American film. It just doesn't get better than that. 

 

WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS is underrated and seems ahead of its time in the ways that it casually shows a serial killer living among a city of innocents (sort of like M). 

 

The Lang film that I think doesn't live up to its potential is BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT. Interesting premise but seems to fall flat.

 

HANGMEN ALSO DIE, meanwhile, is one that needs to be watched more than once to appreciate the full scope of what it tries to accomplish (and does in fact accomplish).

I agree on the last - I would like to see it again from the beginning.

 

Perhaps it was my fascination with Alexander Granach, but I enjoyed all I saw. I didn't see Donlevy kill the guy in the beginning, but yes, he wasn't his usual standout character. I was actually surprised he was able to suffocate Granach, and how nicely was that shot?

 

I loved the Lockhart setup and his disbelief in the betrayal by his beloved Nazis. Who knew he didn't kill the guy in the beginning, but made him a scapegoat. How cool was that. Sorry, I have no quibbles with what I saw.

 

I got a true indication from the film of the suffocating evil that was the Nazis, imagine this band of bullies and attackers taking over an entire country! Imagine sending wave after wave of resisters to take them on, knowing they would be shot time and again.

 

In addition to Granach, Selwart was also very good.

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I agree on the last - I would like to see it again from the beginning.

 

Perhaps it was my fascination with Alexander Granach, but I enjoyed all I saw. I didn't see Donlevy kill the guy in the beginning, but yes, he wasn't his usual standout character. I was actually surprised he was able to suffocate Granach, and how nicely was that shot?

 

I loved the Lockhart setup and his disbelief in the betrayal by his beloved Nazis. Who knew he didn't kill the guy in the beginning, but made him a scapegoat. How cool was that. Sorry, I have no quibbles with what I saw.

 

I got a true indication from the film of the suffocating evil that was the Nazis, imagine this band of bullies and attackers taking over an entire country! Imagine sending wave after wave of resisters to take them on, knowing they would be shot time and again.

 

In addition to Granach, Selwart was also very good.

Excellent post, primos-- I like how you singled out Lockhart...he is the glue that keeps HANGMEN together. When I see him in this film, then think of his Bob Cratchett in A CHRISTMAS CAROL, I can't help but go wow, what a versatile performer.

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The worst I have seen this week is Way Down South which aired this morning. I nearly ran to the bathroom and had the heaves over that one. A soprano boy singer with a plantation in the South, lol, what a concept.

 

But this movie is certainly not all it is cracked up to be. I love how the brewer runs away with his back to them at the end, not really suspenseful on what happens next. BTW that is quite a long shot with a pistol, I love how they never miss with those things in the movies.

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Excellent post, primos-- I like how you singled out Lockhart...he is the glue that keeps HANGMEN together. When I see him in this film, then think of his Bob Cratchett in A CHRISTMAS CAROL, I can't help but go wow, what a versatile performer.

Yes, Lockhart was terrific in this.  We don't often get a chance to see the versatility this actor had.

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Excellent post, primos-- I like how you singled out Lockhart...he is the glue that keeps HANGMEN together. When I see him in this film, then think of his Bob Cratchett in A CHRISTMAS CAROL, I can't help but go wow, what a versatile performer.

Whoaaaaaaaaa................never made the connection.

 

Holy cow.

 

Now THAT'S acting. As I said, Brennan was amazing as well, none of his heelox stuff in this film. And sad to say, I didn't even connect O'Keefe, AND I had just seen him. I was transfixed with the Gestapo guys.

 

Yeah, this was a mediocre film. Give me a break.

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It's worth noting, I think, that Lang didn't really hit his stride in American pictures (not fulfilling the promise he showed with FURY in 1935 at least) until immediately after HANGMEN ALSO DIE! : his next three pictures being the far superior MINISTRY OF FEAR, THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and SCARLET STREET- the last of which could not be better as a film.

 

It's the full spectrum of quality with Lang- from some of the best films of the 20th century (METROPOLIS, M, SCARLET STREET, THE BIG HEAT and I love RANCHO NOTORIOUS) to some good films that could be better (THE BLUE GARDENIA, HUMAN DESIRE, WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS) to a some noteable failures in execution (CLASH BY NIGHT, SECRET BEHIND THE DOOR and HANGMEN.)

 

But after Fury, and before Ministry of Fear, Lang also made the very good noirish You Only Live Once, and right after his most notorious clinker (Man Hunt), he directed the sublime Moon Tide with Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino and Thomas Mitchell.  I think it was more a case of avoiding war melodramas than it was any sort of a mid-career crisis.  Like so many other directors, Lang handled ambiguity and complexity of motives a lot better than he handled Pure Good vs Unadulterated Evil.  Not that everything he directed other than war movies was uniformly great, but his percentage of memorable films from Weimar to Hollywood was about as high as it gets.

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But after Fury, and before Ministry of Fear, Lang also made the very good noirish You Only Live Once, and right after his most notorious clinker (Man Hunt), he directed the sublime Moon Tide with Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino and Thomas Mitchell. I think it was more a case of avoiding war melodramas than it was any sort of a mid-career crisis. Like so many other directors, Lang handled ambiguity and complexity of motives a lot better than he handled Pure Good vs Unadulterated Evil. Not that everything he directed other than war movies was uniformly great, but his percentage of memorable films from Weimar to Hollywood was about as high as it gets.

Nice.

another case of me mouthing off when I had not seen this film you mention. I will make an effort to do so.

 

And also.... I like FURY very much, but i think it could be even better (more issues with the story than Lang though...)

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