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On May 27, 1942 the Nazi Reichsprotector of Bohemia/Moravia, the "Hangman" Reinhard Heydrich, died from the bullets of unidentified resistance fighters. Hangmen Also Die is the story of Heydrich's assassination in fictionalized form. It was Bertolt Brecht's only comparatively successful Hollywood project; the money he received allowed him to write "The Visions of Simone Marchand", "Schwyk in the Second World War" and his adaptation of Webster's "The Duchess of Malfi". Hanns Eisler won an Academy Award for his musical score. Written by
J.Arnold Free <firstname.lastname@example.org>
During the Joseph McCarthy-inspired "Red Scare" era in the 1950s, this was one of the films labeled "subversive" by the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) because it was alleged to have contained dialog that might be construed as pro-communist. Writer John Wexley was even "blacklisted". It wasn't seen again in the United States until the mid-'70s. See more »
In reality, Heydrich was assassinated by a team of Czech exiles sent back to the country by the British government. See more »
Superb addition to Fritz Langs wonderful catalogue of films.
We see here his trademark 'almost documentary' style as well as propaganda (See The Last Testament of Dr Mabuse for another take on the Nazi regime). His trademark shadows (See 'M').
Early in the film we see Heydrich, an evil dictator who used his mandate from Hitler in the fullest possible way. Here he is played by Hans Heinrich von Twardowski who really is scary in portrayal. Lang shows this brilliantly in the way that the Czech people fear him, and also that he is feared by his own men. The master stroke here is the way Heydrich speaks only in German with no subtitles, given an English translation by someone else in the room. People fear him as he is and even though they cannot understand him, they fear what he has said.
The film centres around the reprisals after Heydrich's assassination. The assassin is still living/hiding in Prague. A few know his identity. But they know that if they inform the Gestapo they will be killed and they also know if they don't they may die anyway.
The tight script builds the tension to the highest level to a brilliant climax.
The cast are brilliant, especially the ever reliable Walter Brennan. An actor of the highest caliber. Abley backed up by Anna Lee, Brian Donlevy & Dennis O'Keefe.
This film is made all the more brilliant by the fact that it's idea was conceived only a short time after Heydrich's real-life assassination, not necessarily from a propaganda point of view, but with Lang you know you will get a film that will bench mark the film industry for years to come and people will sit up and take notice.
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