Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Spies (1928)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Spies (1928, Germany) (aka Spione)

In writer-director Fritz Lang's suspenseful and expressionistic espionage thriller:

  • the suspenseful and quick-moving opening prologue sequence of a safe robbery of secret documents (by a set of gloved hands), the canted angle of a fleeing motorcycle rider, a radio broadcast tower's transmissions of newspaper headlines (flying at the screen as text), and the assassination of the Minister of Trade in an open-topped vehicle (and the stealing of his bag on the seat)
  • the plot: a romance that developed between defecting Russian spy Sonja Barranikowa (Gerda Maurus) - a femme fatale - and a handsome young government SS agent known only as Number 326 (Willy Fritsch), who was disguised as a dirty, bearded, scruffy vagrant named Hans Pockzerwinski; Sonja was employed by wheelchair-bound criminal espionage mastermind Haghi (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), a prestigious bank director-president
  • the interlude bath preparation scene for the agent-hero (Fritsch), beginning with a close-up of two hands of his servant-valet Chauffeur Franz (Paul Horbiger); he turned on a bathtub spigot, and then placed a new soap bar on a soap dish; in addition, a fresh towel was draped over a towel rack, and a thermometer reading was taken of the bath water's temperature; bath salts were also sprinkled into the water - this scene occurred during an action sequence when Sonja ran into the agent's hotel suite and pretended (in a seductive ruse) to be fleeing from a man that she claimed she shot in the next room for making sexual advances toward her; after the room was searched, and while the hero was bathing (his actual bathing scene was never on-screen), she stole documents from his desk
  • the many set-pieces, including a ritualistic Japanese sepuku suicide, a train collision, and the simultaneous poison-gassing of a multi-storied building while a fight occurred in a hidden room
  • the brilliant, climactic ending scene - the clown music-hall stage performance of criminal mastermind Haghi as Nemo (his disguise as double-agent 719), who realized he was about to be caught with government counter-agents in the stage's wings; he suicidally shot himself in the head and collapsed dead, as the audience applauded - believing the clown's death was part of his act


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