Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Alan Nadel


Director Fritz Lang is best remembered and most celebrated for the films he made in Germany, including Metropolis (1927) and M (1931), between 1919 and 1933. But he spent over half of his career working in Hollywood. This dissertation is a reconsideration of his American films, focused on how Lang used various Hollywood genres to question and critique the way Hollywood films and genres functioned, as well as trends within those genres. This dissertation is a roughly chronological reading of twelve of Lang’s American films, sorted by genre. We can see how his thinking about the function of film and genre developed throughout his American career, and the ways he developed his critiques within genres. His prewar and wartime crime films examine the ways American films construct criminals and critique the mandated moralizing and static narrative patterns of the Hollywood crime film. His Westerns critique the American mythmaking project of the genre by revealing the fabrication inherent within Westerns. His combat film extends his criticism of Westerns into the WWII combat film, expressing concern about America turning its mythmaking project beyond its borders. His postwar crime films express deep cynicism with the development of the crime film and the parasitic nature that had arisen between news and entertainment media.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)