WHAT IS THAT FLICK?

Fritz Lang’s oddball 1930s movie defies definition

Anthology’s One-Eyed Auteursretrospective is the most idiosyncratic film series imaginable. One of the great directors it celebrates, Fritz Lang (who lost his eye in World War I), is represented by two splendid but neglected films—Moonfleet(1955) and You and Me (1938). One of the oddest American movies of the ‘30s, You and Me takes genre conventions to their limits by commingling a musical with a gangster picture with a romantic comedy with a Brechtian-type moral lesson play, and even includes some rhythmic dialogue with rhyming couplets. George Raft and Sylvia Sidney are a pair of ex-cons who are trying to recover from their past mistakes, but break parole restrictions by getting married. Kurt Weill, celebrated composer of The Threepenny Opera, wrote the music for two of the flick’s extraordinary montage sequences. Lang’s radical avant-gardist combination of styles, attempting to forge a synthesis between the popular mainstream and the experimental, blindsided critics—The New Yorker opined, “You and Me is the weirdest cinematic hash I ever saw”—and the picture bombed at the box office. But it remains a bold attempt to break away from Hollywood formula and should be better known. ‘You and Me’ plays today at 2:30,‘Moonfleet’ plays Friday at 9:15
Fri., Aug. 21, 9:15 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 22, 2:30 p.m., 2009

 
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