Fritz Lang, a master of German expressionism (M, Metropolis) and a craftsman of the Western and film noir genres, is receiving a fitting spotlight from Cohen Film Collection with the September 9 release of Hangmen Also Die. The movie, which is coming out on Blu-ray and DVD, follows Lang’s lifelong themes of paranoia and societal corruption.
Shot by cinematographer James Wong Howe (Seconds), Hangmen Also Die centers on a surgeon/Czech patriot (Kiss of Death’s Brian Donlevy) who is on the run from the Gestapo after assassinating a high ranking Nazi. The patriot may have to eventually turn himself in, as the Nazis claim they will execute scores of innocent citizens until the assassin is caught.
The Cohen Film Collection, in collaboration with Pinewood Studios and the British Film Institute, were responsible for the restoration of Hangmen Also Die. The latest cut contains a one minute scene that was cut from the original release. As writer Tom Gunning attests in his book The Films of Fritz Lang, the director’s anti-Nazi films Hangmen Also Die, Ministry of Fear, and Man Hunt “allowed Lang to return to his strengths within genre filmmaking and refine his creation of an everyday terrain of paranoia in which ordinary events reveal themselves in an instant as sinister and deadly.”
Special Features on the disc include audio commentary from former New York Film Festival program director Richard Peña, a featurette and an essay on the film and Fritz Lang, and a before and after comparison between the two Hangmen Also Die prints.