Spies / Spione (1928)

Spies / Spione (1928)

“Nothing is to deter a man from the path of duty — not even a woman.”

The head (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) of an underground espionage network hires his best agent (Gerda Maurus) to get secrets from an agent known as 326 (Willy Fritsch), and the pair quickly fall in love. Meanwhile, Haghi (Klein-Rogge) asks a beautiful blonde (Lien Deyers) to set a trap for a Japanese head of security (Lupu Pick) in order to obtain a crucial treaty, and the head of the German Secret Service (Craighall Sherry) attempts to determine Haghi’s secret whereabouts.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Fritz Lang Films
  • German Films
  • Silent Films
  • Spies

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that this “less heralded” German silent film by Fritz Lang — taking place in a “postwar world where everyone seems to be either a criminal or a spy” — is “nevertheless great fun,” and was likely an influence on Hitchcock in terms of “the film’s exciting train sequence and the finale in which [a villain] (who is dressed as a clown) is trapped on a stage.”

Peary notes that while the “film is a mite confusing and overplotted” (I agree), it “would have made the perfect serial” given “its diabolical supervillain, his assorted crimes, the pulp-fiction plotline (with sex and action), and the numerous episodes that end with cliffhangers.”

Peary lists this movie at 98 minutes in his GFTFF, but we’re now able to see a much lengthier version. According to TCM’s article, “Like Metropolis, surviving prints of Spies were severely edited and the original cut was unavailable for decades until, in 2004, the Murnau Institute restored the film with over 50 minutes of missing footage,” and “Lang’s cinematic spy fantasy is [now] available in its full glory once again.” While it’s not quite must-see silent viewing like Lang’s Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler (1922), Siegfried’s Tod (1924), Kriemhild’s Revenge (1924), or Metropolis, film fanatics will likely be curious to check this one out once.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Gerda Maurus as Agent Sonya
  • Fine production design

  • Powerful imagery

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended for one-time viewing, and of course a must for Lang enthusiasts.


One thought on “Spies / Spione (1928)

  1. First viewing (1/15/20). Not must-see.

    A surprisingly uninvolving – though still typically complicated – Lang film which gives the director almost no opportunity to shine (even though his visual style remains intact). Things get a little unintentionally funny in the penultimate trainwreck sequence.

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