Hangmen Also Die (March 27, 1943)
Released on March 27, 1943: (running time 2 hours and 14 minutes)When a Nazi leader in Prague is killed, the search for his killer terrorizes the city.
Produced by Fritz Lang, and Arnold Pressburger
Directed by Fritz Lang
Written by Bertolt Brecht, John Wexley and Fritz Lang
The Actors: Brian Donlevy (Dr. Franticek Svoboda / Karel Vanek), Walter Brennan (Stephen Novotny, Professor of History), Anna Lee (Masha Novotny), Gene Lockhart (Emil Czaka, the beerbrewer), Dennis O'Keefe (Jan Horak), Alexander Granach (Gestapo Inspector Alois Gruber), Margaret Wycherly (Ludmilla Novotny), Tonio Selwart (Chief of Gestapo Kurt Haas), Jonathan Hale (Dedic), Hans Heinrich von Twardowski (Reinhard Heydrich), Nana Bryant (Mrs. Hellie Novotny), William Roy (Beda Novotny), Lionel Stander (Banya, getaway car driver), Sarah Padden (Mrs. Georgia Dvorak), Edmund MacDonald (Doctor Pillar), Byron Foulger (Bartos), Virginia Farmer (Mrs. Nimitz), Ludwig Donath (Schirmer), George Irving (Neeval), James Bush (Pescacek), Arno Frey (Camp Lieutenant Itnut), Lester Sharpe (Rudy), Arthur Loft (General Votruba), Reinhold Schunzel (Gestapo Inspector Ritter), Louis Adlon (Adjutant), Erville Alderson (liberal official), Richard Alexander (slugger in theater), Jack Alfred (busboy), Louis V. Arco (Nazi official), Florence Auer (Czech patriot), William 'Billy' Benedict (Kylar), Edna Bennett (pregnant woman), Margaret Bert (market woman), Oscar Blank (hostage), Lane Bradford (Gestapo officer), Harry C. Bradley (townsman), Frederic Brunn (SS Officer), Willy Castello (SS Guard), Richard Clarke (Priest), Steve Clemente (knife thrower), Chester Conklin (cook), Edith Conrad (woman in audience), Max Davidson (bearded man), Bryn Davis (girl), Earle S. Dewey (wine waiter), James Dime (Gestapo detective), Lester Dorr (Aldrich Krapke), Tex Driscoll (hostage), Ralph Dunn (Czech Policeman), Gretl Dupont (angry woman), David Durand (bicycle boy), James Eagles (Svatak), Edward Earle (professor), Fern Emmett (peasant woman), Fred Essler (Doctor Kesselbach), William Farnum (Viktorin), Betty Farrington (heavy woman), Dwight Frye (hostage), Hans Fuerberg (personal adjutant), Jack George (Polcar), Inna Gest (hatcheck girl), George Guhl (workman), William Haade (Mildrad), Liesl Handl (slugger's girlfriend), Sam Harris (man at briefing), Bud Jamison (fat man), Eddie Kane (Novak), Victor Kendall (SS Leader), Manart Kippen (Dovolga), Fred Kohler Jr. (Czech patriot), Kurt Kreuger (Gestapo Officer), Rita La Roy (girl), Hope Landin (Czech patriot), Carl M. Leviness (man at briefing), Rolf Lindau (De Lauge), Emmett Lynn (Gerta), Robert Malcolm (Czech patriot), Merrill McCormick (taxi driver), Claire McDowell (counterwoman), Paul McVey (Jan Pestuca), John Meredith (Czech man), Philip Merivale (policeman), Louis Merrill (industrialist), Peter Michael (SS Captain), Charles Middleton (patriot at meeting with Svoboda), Robert Milasch (hostage), Edwin Mills (Eduard), Harold Minjir (butler), Frances Morris (Doctor Svoboda's nurse), George N. Neise (Mueller), Carl Neubert (economist), Manuel Paris (townsman on street), John Piffle (industrialist), Russ Powell (tobacconist), Paul Power (man at briefing), Lucien Prival (policeman), Frank Reicher (interpretor), Otto Reichow (Gestapo agent Schultz), Albin Robeling (clerk), Henry Roquemore (patriot at meeting), Hans Schumm (Sergeant), Janet Shaw (Katerina Honiga), George Sherwood (SS Lieutenant), Mabel Smaney (woman on street), Pietro Sosso (waiter), Robert R. Stephenson (Nazi guard in visitor's pen), Carl Stockdale (cigarette smoker), Henry Sylvester (tall Czech), Forrest Taylor (pipe smoker), Walter Thiele (police official), Sigfrid Tor (Gescky), Fred Trowbridge (man in audience), Lisl Valetti (secretary), Philip Van Zandt (officer), Lucio Villegas (townsman at briefing), Emmett Vogan (hostage wearing glasses), Hans von Morhart (policeman), Sam Waagenaar (SS man), Fay Wall (secretary), Eddy Waller (hansom cab driver), Crane Whitley (SS headquarters man), Guy Wilkerson (Santrock), Harry Wilson (ugly German bodyguard)
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“Marvelous People, these Czechs, Stubborn to the Bitter End”
The first years of motion pictures were pioneered largely by studios in New Jersey, France, and Germany. Fritz Lang was born in Austria, to a devout Catholic father and a Jewish mother. He became a movie director in Germany, pioneering the genres of science fiction and film noir. He was a master at unveiling the darker side of human personalities, and his use of light and shadow along with showcasing the darker sides of life became the genesis of film noir. When Adolf Hitler and his Nazi government ruled Germany in 1933, he fled to France, and then to Hollywood.
In 1943, when this movie was filmed, most of the world was at war, and in Europe the Nazi army had taken control of Czechoslovakia. The Czech army was subdued, so a new underground army of resistance was born. Reinhard Heydrich was the number two man in the S.S. and chief of the dreaded Gestapo secret police, brutally ruling the Czechs. In January 1942 he chaired a conference that determined that the final solution to the Jewish population should be deportation and genocide.
In May 1942, in the Czech city of Prague, Heydrich was fatally shot by Czech and Slovak underground agents who were trained by the British. Nazi agents falsely thought that Heydrich’s killer was from the villages of Lidice or Ležáky, and all men over the age of sixteen were shot and killed, and all but a few of the women and children were deported and killed in Nazi concentration camps.
When this movie was filmed in 1943, the identity of the assassins was still unknown, but Fritz Lang and Bertolt Brecht decided to bring the Czech story to the screen with this fictionalized tale of how the assassination and follow up might have happened.
When this movie premiered, World War Two still had a couple of years of fighting before history would know which side would be the victor, and the ending of this noir war adventure smartly points that out. The movie would get two Academy Award nominations and feature an all-star cast. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
Alexander Granach, Gene Lockhart
Anna Lee, Walter Brennan
Anna Lee, William Roy, Nana Bryant, Margaret Wycherly
Brian Donlevy, Anna Lee
Hans Heinrich von Twardowski
Janet Shaw, Lester Dorr
Jonathan Hale, Brian Donlevy