Friday, November 27, 2009

Results Of The Latest Poll: Another Big Win For Lang!

The results are in from this week's Monkey Movie poll, Who would you choose as best director of 1930-31?

Fritz Lang who directed Peter Lorre in the serial killer classic, M, ran away with it, receiving 6 of the 10 votes cast. The immortal Charlie Chaplin picked up 2 for directing City Lights and René Clair (Le Million) and Luis Buñuel (L'Âge d'Or) received one vote each.

Tod Browning who directed Dracula had admitted last week in a interview conducted strictly between the left and right lobes of my cerebral cortex that he feared he was just in this poll to round out the field and this proved to be the case.

Raoul Walsh, William A. Wellman and Josef von Sternberg were annoyed not to be in the poll at all and called for an investigation.

After the win, Lang and his (alleged) mistress, actress Joan Bennett, shared a celebratory cigarette on the set of their current movie project, the film noir thriller Scarlet Street.

"Winning this poll," said Lang at a hastily-arranged press conference, "means as much to me as winning the Katie Award itself. Well, almost. I mean, I'm not crazy. The Katie Award is big and will provide some real leverage at contract time. But this is nice, too."

By the way, perhaps I'm telling stories out of school, but the vote for René Clair came from none other than our own beloved Katie-Bar-The-Door. She felt Clair's work on Le Million was innovative, clever and warm, not to mention it's her favorite movie of the five listed here. She's right, of course. Le Million is on the short list for most pleasant surprises I've received while working on this blog and I give it my highest recommendation. But, well, I went with Lang for the reasons I've previously stated at length.

In any event, whoever you voted for, you're right, their work was the best of the year. A good year for directors all the way around.


Maggie said...

Excellent choice. I have to admit that for me what decided my vote was when I saw that he also directed `Metropolis'. But, just based on the movie `M' he deserved to win.
There was only one teeny tiny part that seemed flawed to me, and that was when Lohmann (?) was sitting at his desk and Lang has the camera angle looking up towards Lohmann. I thought it was a rather uncomfortable and maybe an artsy bit rather than having any meaning.
Hey, I may be wrong, it just seemed false after such an almost perfect movie.

Where is my gift bag?

Mythical Monkey said...

I know the shot you mean and, no, I don't know what Lang was up to either. When John Huston introduced Sydney Greenstreet with the same shot in The Maltese Falcon, he was emphasizing just how big Greenstreet was ("You can't miss him, he must weigh 300 pounds.") But Lohmann had been around most of the movie at that point. We already knew him pretty well.

If I see an explanation somewhere other than that Lang was being clever, I'll let you know ...

Mythical Monkey said...

Among other things, Roger Ebert had this to say about M:

"When you watch "M,'' you see a hatred for the Germany of the early 1930s that is visible and palpable. Apart from a few perfunctory shots of everyday bourgeoisie life (such as the pathetic scene of the mother waiting for her little girl to return from school), the entire movie consists of men seen in shadows, in smokefilled dens, in disgusting dives, in conspiratorial conferences. And the faces of these men are cruel caricatures: Fleshy, twisted, beetle-browed, dark-jowled, out of proportion. One is reminded of the stark faces of the accusing judges in Dreyer's ``Joan of Arc,'' but they are more forbidding than ugly."

Nothing specific about the shot of Lohmann, but it could have been tied to that same distaste for German authority figures. I'll have to go back and see specifically what Lohmann is doing or saying at that moment -- is there something particularly ugly in what he's doing that warrants the revulsion inherent in the shot?