Spies (Spione) (1928)

dir. Fritz Lang. Set during 1920s Germany during the Weimar Republic. A secret network of spies (possibly Russian) infiltrates various government and diplomatic organisations, with the goal fomenting another world war! A handsome young secret agent working for the German secret police has a chance encounter with a beautiful enemy agent, and love blooms on the battlefield. After Lang’s masterpiece METROPOLIS (1927) was not the financial success his studio had hoped, SPIES had for the most part a visually stripped back and economical style, with spymasters on both sides controlling their agents from plain grey rooms. Despite the smaller budget, SPIES does feel like a proto-James Bond style spy film, with doomed love affairs, honeypot operations, and an action-packed finale. Some more Bond elements; the heroic German agent is simply known by his number 236, the wheelchair bound villain (and Fitz Lang regular evil genius) is very reminiscent of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and the female agents are much more capable than the blokes, which proceeds only the most recent Bond films.

By Nicholas Hudson-Ellis

Co-Founder & Film Programs Manager of Bangkok Screening Room.