Thursday and Friday
M (German, 1931)
Fritz Lang was born and raised in Vienna. It was there that he schemed out a film script as he recovered from war wounds. In the next decade he delivered masterpieces of German film (Metropolis, and the Dr. Mabuse films). But M is his most Viennese movie, concerned with psychological doubling in its wretched child-killer with irresistible impulses. This character becomes disturbingly sympathetic with the young Peter Lorre in the role. So M begins to uncover our very mixed feelings for movie murderers. In the end, it’s a film about us, just as it was first called Murderer Among Us.—David Thomson
Thursday and Friday (September 29-30) at 7:30.
The Blue Angel (1930)
In 1930, Josef von Sternberg returned to his native Vienna to film the Heinrich Mann novel, Professor Unrath, as a vehicle for Emil Jannings (who had worked with Sternberg on The Last Command, and won an Oscar). But Sternberg acted on his own story: he promoted Marlene Dietrich to steal the film from Jannings just as her cabaret singer humiliates the self-important teacher. In the process Sternberg fell for Dietrich while discovering the model for his mordant subject — the hopeless love affair, a topic the two of them would pursue in six more glorious films at Paramount..—David Thomson
Thursday and Friday (September 29-30) at 5:30 and 9:30.
Saturday and Sunday
The Woman in the Window (1944)
This great film noir never really feels like America — the lighting and the sound stage world are anywhere, and nowhere. A settled married man — a psychology professor on his own for the summer — just happens to see a painting of a lovely woman in a window at night — but then the real woman appears. This is a dream film, directed by Fritz Lang, born and raised in Vienna, and with an actor (Robinson) who had once been Emmanuel Goldenberg from Bucharest. Joan Bennett is the woman, Dan Duryea will be the threat — both reliably American.—David Thomson
Saturday and Sunday (October 1-2) at 3:40 and 7:30.
Double Indemnity (1944)
Double Indemnity is southern Californian and as American as the insurance business. But director Billy Wilder had grown up in Vienna, and he never lost its taste for scathing irony. The movie (scripted in part by Raymond Chandler) is superior to the James M. Cain novel (which Cain admitted), because it cherishes the fondness between scoundrel insurance salesman (Fred MacMurray) and his boss (Edward G. Robinson). So the film is a study in a failed male relationship, with Barbara Stanwyck riveting as the woman who triggers the whole mess.—David Thomson
Saturday and Sunday (October 1-2) at 5:30 and 9:20.