IMDb > Spies (1928)
Spione
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Spies (1928) More at IMDbPro »Spione (original title)

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Overview

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7.7/10   2,397 votes »
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Popularity: ?
Up 1% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Thea von Harbou (novel) and
Fritz Lang (writer)
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Contact:
View company contact information for Spies on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
10 March 1929 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
The mastermind behind a ubiquitous spy operation learns of a dangerous romance between a Russian lady in his employ and a dashing agent from the government's secret service. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
NewsDesk:
(21 articles)
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User Reviews:
"Whose blood shall I wear around my neck tonight?" See more (27 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Rudolf Klein-Rogge ... Haghi

Gerda Maurus ... Sonya Baranilkowa

Lien Deyers ... Kitty
Louis Ralph ... Hans Morrier - Hans Morriera, English version
Craighall Sherry ... Burton Jason / Miles Jason

Willy Fritsch ... No. 326 - Det. Donald Tremaine, English version

Paul Hörbiger ... Franz - Chauffeur
Hertha von Walther ... Lady Leslane

Lupu Pick ... Dr. Masimoto - Matsumoto, English version
Fritz Rasp ... Col. Jellusic - Ivan Stepanov, English version
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Grete Berger ... Unconfirmed Role (uncredited)
Julius Falkenstein ... Hotel Manager (uncredited)
Heinrich Gotho ... Burton Jason's Other Assistant (uncredited)
Gustl Gstettenbaur ... Boy Who Helps No. 326 (uncredited)
Georg John ... Locomotive Engineer (uncredited)
Theodor Loos ... Handelsminister (uncredited)
Klaus Pohl ... Burton Jason's Assistant (uncredited)
Paul Rehkopf ... Strolch (uncredited)

Rosa Valetti ... Kitty's Mother (uncredited)
Hermann Vallentin ... Hotel Security Chief (uncredited)

Hans Heinrich von Twardowski ... Vincent - Jason's Secretary (uncredited)

Directed by
Fritz Lang 
 
Writing credits
Thea von Harbou (novel 'Spione')

Fritz Lang  writer
Thea von Harbou  screenplay

Produced by
Erich Pommer .... producer
 
Original Music by
Werner R. Heymann 
 
Cinematography by
Fritz Arno Wagner 
 
Art Direction by
Otto Hunte 
Karl Vollbrecht 
 
Art Department
Edgar G. Ulmer .... set designer (uncredited)
 

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Spione" - Germany (original title)
See more »
Runtime:
Germany:178 min (16 fps) | USA:90 min | Spain:144 min (DVD edition) | Argentina:150 min | USA:144 min (DVD edition)
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
Argentina:Atp | Finland:K-12 (1966) | Netherlands:18 (original rating) (1928) | Spain:T | UK:U (original rating) | UK:PG (video) | USA:Unrated

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Gerda Maurus, whose film-debut "Spione" was, and who met Fritz Lang for the first time here, later had a long relationship with the director, eventually causing his divorce from Thea von Harbou, who at the time was his wife and remained his regular co-author up until The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933), Lang's last German film before emigration to the U.S..See more »
Quotes:
Sonya Baranilkowa:Whose blood am I to wear around my neck, Haghi?See more »
Movie Connections:
References Metropolis (1927)See more »

FAQ

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful.
"Whose blood shall I wear around my neck tonight?", 27 May 2009
Author: Steffi_P from Ruritania

One of things that I think attracts young film fans to German cinema from the Weimar period is that it displays a striking stylistic extremism that captivates modern viewers not yet used to silent cinema. This ranges from Murnau's technical effects extravaganzas, to Lubitsch's off-the-wall comedy creations and, of course, Fritz Lang's angular architecture and comic-book sense of adventure.

A mistaken impression with these pictures is that they got to be so stylised because of a higher degree of artistic freedom in the European studios. However UFA studios were just as much about collaboration and commercialism as those in Hollywood. While individual directors did have a lot of control over the look of their pictures, these overt styles owe more to the influence of German theatre, as well as German literature, painting and the opera.

As with any cinema, anywhere, one of the most important collaborators is the screenwriter. No matter how strong or attention-grabbing your visual style is, if you haven't got the story, you haven't got anything. Spione features one of the best efforts from Lang's collaborator and wife Thea von Harbou, and is in many ways a tightened-up reworking of Dr Mabuse. Whereas that earlier picture was full of unnecessarily long title cards, Spione is far more succinct, allowing the audience to fill in the gaps. Importantly it begins with a lengthy piece of pure silent storytelling, which helps to engage us before bombarding us with verbal information. Harbou's characters are also very strong. It's a nice touch to make arch-villain Haghi wheelchair bound – a man who is weak in body but strong in means and influence.

Lang himself was by now a master of his own highly individual technique. Space and set décor should be important to every director, but Lang is probably the only one who tells his stories more through architecture than through actors. With rooms so bizarre and angular they would probably drive most people mad if they had to live or work in them, Lang sets a tone for each location, and thus for each scene. Narrow corridors give a sense of entrapment; open doorways leading onto larger spaces give a sense of uneasiness; crisscrossing diagonals carve up the screen, often drawing our attention to things and people. One thing that especially stands out in Spione is that way Lang often creates compositions that are almost-but-not-quite symmetrical. Just as a great colour director like Vincente Minnelli might throw in a splash of blue to offset (and thus bring to life) a shot full of shades of red, Lang adds for example the nurse standing to one side of an otherwise symmetrical shot of Haghi sat at his desk.

Even Lang's choice of camera position was strictly angular. He is either to one side, detached from the action, or he is right inside it with actors staring straight into the lens. He rarely uses, say, opposing over-the-shoulder shots that many directors would for intimate dialogue scenes, but his methods were nonetheless effective. Spione in fact features one of his most beautifully constructed romantic scenes in the first meeting between Willy Fritsch and Gerda Maurus. Lang begins with the camera to one side, simply filming the meeting as a casual observer. He then begins placing the camera between them, interspersed with close-ups of hands or other objects, making us experience the growing emotional intensity as well as that slight feeling of awkwardness. We then return to a shot to the side of the actors, but closer this time, as they move in for their first kiss. In spite of his reputation Lang could be incredibly tender and sentimental at times.

Exaggerated acting tends to be part and parcel of that over-the-top nature of German silent cinema, and in the case of Lang's features it is often particularly apt given the comic-book style characters and situations. Spione is no exception, but it is nice to see the normally animated Rudolf Klein-Rogge getting to underplay it a little as a cool and collected villain. Lupu Pick also gives a very deep and emotionally complex performance as the Japanese ambassador.

The upshot of this collaboration is an incredibly exciting and satisfying picture, even though it is rarely referenced as one of Fritz Lang's best. If it is remembered at all it is usually for its resemblance to later gadget-based espionage thrillers, as well as containing many of the suspense building techniques later employed by Hitchcock, such as letting the audience in on things the characters do not know. It is, nevertheless, among the most carefully constructed, exciting and purely enjoyable of Lang's silent pictures, and an improvement on the better-known Dr Mabuse.

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