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Spies

4.2 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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(Nov 09, 2004)
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Editorial Reviews

Previously seen in the U.S. in a severely truncated form, Fritz Lang's elaborate superspy thriller is at last restored to its proper length. Rudolf Kleine-Rogge stars as Haghi, the head of an elaborate criminal empire, and Willy Fritsch is the undercover agent assigned to topple the diabolical king from his throne. Filled with the sexual intrigue and high-tech gadgetry that continue to define the genre, Spies remains remarkably contemporary, even 75 years after its premiere. This newly restored edition of Spies is composed oft he best surviving 35mm film elements, assembled from archives throughout the world. It is more than 50 minutes longer than any version previously released on video.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Rudolf Klein-Rogge, Gerda Maurus, Willy Fritsch, Lien Deyers, Louis Ralph
  • Directors: Fritz Lang
  • Writers: Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou
  • Producers: Erich Pommer
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Full Screen, NTSC, Silent
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: November 9, 2004
  • Run Time: 143 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00064AEWY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,641 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Spies" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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.
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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".
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Format: DVD
Fritz Lang's "Spies" has all the elements of a classic adventure yarn --- a resourceful hero, a dastardly villain, a gorgeous love interest and dozens of daring escapes and close calls. What makes this movie remarkable is that "Spies" predated the first 007 movie ("Dr. No") by 35 years and, 75 years after its initial release, the movie still entertains.

This is from the same creative team who brought us the more famous "Metropolis," another film ahead of its time. Modern filmmakers need to go back to these German silents, as these movies truly were MOVIES--- storytelling told primarily through visuals. The opening montage in which supervillain Haghi's spy network procures an important document through a series of assassinations is stunningly conceived and executed. Agent 326's battle in the train tunnel is suspenseful; and the subplot with the Japanese diplomat (Lupo Pick) dealing with a seductive female spy is engaging and well-told.

But film is not without flaws. The story suffers from sentimentality at times, particularly involving the romance of 326; and the film's climax--- which has to be seen to be believed, it involves a circus clown--- is hokey and unlikely.

In terms of DVD presentation, I was dissappointed that there was no commentary track, similar to other Fritz Lang DVDs ("Dr. Mabuse the Gambler," "Metropolis.") A critical analysis of the film and some tidbits on how the film was made would have been welcomed. There is a nifty photo slideshow feature, with some rare behind-the-scenes images and publicity from the film, but not much else. The film transfer, however, is superb; and an astonishing 50 minutes of footage is restored.

Despite the nits, this is a worthy addition to any serious cinephile's library.
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