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Fritz LangThe Nature of the Beast$
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Patrick McGilligan

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780816676552

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816676552.001.0001

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(p.401) Chapter 19 1953–1956
Fritz Lang

Patrick McGilligan

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter details events in Fritz Lang’s life from 1953 to 1956. Now under contract at Columbia, Lang would stumble across a property that was made to order for him—one of those happy accidents of time and place that for the most part eluded the filmmaker after Germany. This was The Big Heat based on a novel by William P. McGivern. The story follows Sergeant Bannion as he endeavors to investigate the suspicious suicide of a corrupt cop. As filming began on March 11, 1953, Lang was acutely aware that The Big Heat offered a chance at a new lease on his career. The film was previewed in August and released in October. The reviews were fair, the box office average. Yet almost overnight The Big Heat became one of Lang’s most highly esteemed works around the world. The chapter also describes the death of Lang’s ex-wife Thea von Harbou; the making of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt; and his retirement.

Keywords:   Fritz Lang, biography, directors, Columbia Pictures, The Big Heat, Thea von Harbou, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, retirement

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