Monday, May 31, 2010

1941 - WESTERN UNION, a Fritz Lang Western?

If you are looking for signs of the personality of the great German director Fritz Lang, better keep looking.  Lang was an auteur in the purest sense of the word, but this was strictly a studio project all the way.  

Fritz Lang was always a difficult person to deal with.  He had an explosive Teutonic temperament and Hollywood tended to steer away from him like he was a plague carrier.  Lang attempted to show he could be a team player, so he signed a 3 picture deal with 20th Century Fox and tried to behave himself.

For whatever reason, Daryl F. Zanuck assigned Fritz Lang, one of the acknowledged masters of noir and suspense films and a man who practically invented modern science fictions films with Metropolis and Woman On The Moon, to make a film about the building of the Western Union telegraph service across the American west. 

If Western Union doesn't look or feel like "ein Fritz Lang film," it's still a very enjoyable and fast paced film coming in at around 90 minutes.  Western Union was filmed on location in the painted desert in early 1940's technicolor which gives it an interesting if slightly unreal look to it. 

The film has the benefit of being a very classy studio production.  There is an exciting forest fire sequence towards the end of the film and an equally exciting shoot out in a barber shop of all places.  The film also has an interesting plot twist involving the hero and the villain.

A highly professional and enjoyable film.

90 minutes.

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