- Hardcover: 548 pages
- Publisher: St Martins Pr; First Edition edition (June 1, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312132476
- ISBN-13: 978-0312132477
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.8 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,556,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Fritz Lang: The Nature of the Beast Hardcover – June 1, 1997
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Fritz Lang directed Metropolis, M, Liliom, Fury, The Big Heat, and many other of the cinema's enduring masterpieces. But in Patrick McGilligan's assessment, Lang "lived his life--and cultivated his legend--with the glinted eyes of a maniac." Until his death in 1976, Lang carefully manipulated the events of his past, omitting his first wife's mysterious death, his tyrannical treatment of his associates, and his many liaisons with famous women. In this superbly researched and riveting biography, McGilligan peels Lang's autobiographical fictions to reveal the facts about these omissions as well as his flirtation with Nazism, his alleged Communist affiliations, his sadistic tendencies on the set, and his unparalleled cinematic genius.
From Library Journal
Genius, womanizer, perfectionist, Nazi, visionary, and tyrant all describe film legend Fritz Lang. McGilligan illustrates some of these terms and answers many questions raised about Lang. Did he murder his first wife? Did Hitler ask him to be the filmmaker for the Third Reich? Did he force extras on the set of his acclaimed Metropolis to work under tortuous conditions? The book is meticulously researched and it seems no detail of Lang's life has been omitted. The author spent four years in Europe interviewing Lang's contemporaries and examining records at government and film archives. Author of acclaimed film biographies, McGilligan has returned with another exceptional work, including a detailed filmography and informative acknowledgments that reconstruct his research. This authoritative biography is highly recommended for academic and public libraries.?Lisa N. Johnston, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., Va.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The most frustrating aspect of "The Nature of the Beast" is this: it represents the single worst job of copyediting that I've ever seen. The errors are abundant and distracting. The publisher should be embarrassed, and the copy editor should be forced to retake elementary school.
Whatever Lang does is wrong, no matter what the circumstances. Take his flight from the Nazis. McGilligan discovers serious contradictions in Lang's account of his strange and frightening confrontation with Goebbels. McGilligan's conclusion? That Lang was a Nazi sympathizer himself, the evidence being a delay of two months in leaving Germany. This is nonsense. The book itself demonstrates that Lang made more anti-Nazi films (one in the midst of the isolationist period) than any other director. Thea von Harbou, on the other hand, a full-bore party member who stuck it out until the bitter end, is handled with kid gloves.
A slight contradiction there, as there is in the account of the blacklist era, where Lang, already burned by one gang of political extremists, is condemned for not adequately defending another, clearly portrayed as dishonest and untrustworthy. The man just can't win.
McGilligan also gets some very well-known Hollywood stories wrong (see the Harry Cohn story on p. 398).
Lang may have been a flawed genius, but he was a genius, and deserves to be treated as such (see "Print the Legend" by Scott Eymas to see how it's done). His definitive biography remains to be written. This ain't it.
(The book also suffers from the standard execrable St. Martins copyediting job: "If it ain't in spellcheck, it don't matter!")