Saturday, December 5, 2009

Katie Winner Fritz Lang Celebrates 119th Birthday With Famous Friends

The best director of 1930-31, Fritz Lang, is celebrating a birthday today. He has lots of company.

Coincidentally, his cinematographer on M, Fritz Arno Wagner, was also born on this day, just four years after Lang. Wagner was cinematographer not only on M, but also on Nosferatu, the first two Dr. Mabuse movies—144 in all. That's Wagner on the right, Lang on the left. No idea who's lurking behind the camera. Probably some extra looking to wangle a piece of cake.

It's also Emeric Press- burger's birthday, who teamed up with Michael Powell to produce the best movies ever to come out of Great Britain (see, e.g., The Red Shoes). Born in Austria before the Great War, Pressburger was writing screenplays in Berlin at the same moment Lang and Wagner were filming their crime masterpiece.

"The worst things that happened to me were the political consequences of events beyond my control," Pressburger later said of fleeing Nazi Germany for England. "The best things were exactly the same."

I like to think the three men celebrated their birthdays together by watching this 1931 animated comedy produced by another December 5th-born legend, Walt Disney. In honor of these famously hard working men, I give you the 1931 Walt Disney cartoon, The Busy Beavers.

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