The Spiders (Fandor)
The German-born director Fritz Lang is perhaps best known for Metropolis (1927), though he had a long and very impressive career, with many films about crime and paranoia, made in Germany and in Hollywood. Recently restored, The Spiders (1919) is his first existing feature film, a three-hour adventure story in two parts, and influenced by the French serials of Louis Feuillade. It has an international feel, beginning in San Francisco, where a yachtsman named "Kay Hoog" (Carl de Vogt) discovers a message in a bottle that leads to a lost Incan civilization filled with treasure. An evil organization known as "The Spiders" tries to beat him to it.
The young Lang was originally slated to direct The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, but was re-assigned to this. He's clearly still learning his craft; his suspense sequences are not as tight as they would be in later films, but the movie is still packed with goodies. There are princesses, kidnapped heiresses, stolen diamonds, an underground city, and a booby-trapped cave; it's not much of a stretch to guess that the Indiana Jones films were influenced by this movie.
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