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Haghi is a criminal mastermind whose ubiquitous spy operation is always several steps ahead of the police and the government's secret service. Enter Agent 326, the daring and dashing young man, who thinks his disguise as a dirty, bearded vagrant is fooling the unknown mastermind and his minions. But Haghi is well aware of 326's existence and what he looks like. Enter Sonya, a Russian lady in Haghi's employ. Haghi wants Sonya to subvert the efforts of the government agent, but doesn't count on her falling in love with him. Meanwhile, Haghi is anxious to get his hands on a Japanese peace treaty in the possession of the cunning Doctor Masimoto, whose mistress is also in his employ. Written by
UFA insisted on the film being very cheap in the making as Fritz Lang's previous film Metropolis (1927) had brought the studio to near bankruptcy. Lang therefore choose to do most of the shots in narrow settings with lots of close ups, as no big sets had to be built up for that way of filming. Fortunately "Spione" became a huge success. See more »
Spione (Spies) is a Fritz Lang film about spy espionage. The plot is strangely more complicated than more recent spy flicks (which is a good thing). The film focuses on No. 326, a spy that is responsible for investigating leads on a mysterious mastermind that controls a network of spies. The mastermind, known as Haghi, plots to steal an important treaty. It turns out that he leads a double life as the owner of a successful bank (which apparently makes him richer than Henry Ford). Things get complicated when Haghi sends a female spy, Sonya, to prevent No. 326 from interfering. Sonya falls in love with No. 326 while still under the supervision of Haghi, leading to the usual conflicts.
The acting and characterization was wonderful. Haghi is the definition of bad guy: you know he is evil when you see the goatee. Confined to a wheelchair, he is the perfect blend of intelligence and deceptiveness. Agent No. 326 is an interesting character, although he loses some of his features as the film progresses. Sonya is beautiful and acted wonderfully. Among the side characters, I found that Colonel Jellusic and Doctor Masimoto stood out.
Although a little overlong, the film is at no point slow. Mixing fast pacing with well-placed plot twists (which really build up towards the end), anyone with interest in the subject should have no problem enjoying it for the entire running time.
I was not sure what to expect from Spione before watching it, seeing that it is a largely forgotten film. I enjoy Fritz Lang films, and this was no exception. It may not be the caliber of M, but it succeeds anyway. If you do not mind silent films and enjoy the spy/espionage genre (namely, James Bond), then you will enjoy this one.
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