The first espionage film ever to be created was Spies (1928) by Fritz Lang.
This quality edition from Kino has been mastered from the 2004 restoration materials from the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Stiftung, differing greatly from the truncated American version of the film, and released for the first time on home video. The reconstruction was compiled from 35mm prints from several world film archives.
In the tradition of his popular Dr. Mabuse films (Dr. Mabuse: The Gambler, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse), Fritz Lang's Spies revolves around the baroque schemes of a criminal mastermind -- in this case, Haghi (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), a master spy who operates from a secret office inside a bank. The plot is a virtual template for all espionage movies to come. It's full of double agents, secret documents, assassinations, and even a love story between two agents on opposite sides of the vast game Haghi is playing. In contrast to Lang's silent masterpieces Metropolis and Die Nibelungen: Siegfried, with their gargantuan sets and stately, myth-like plots and pacing, Spies is made with swifter strokes. It begins with a quick-moving montage of murders, heists, and other crimes that sets the mood for the fast-paces, densely plotted action to follow. This, and a brilliantly designed and edited later passage which finds the hero, Agent 326 (Willy Fritsch), trapped in a train car about to be obliterated by an oncoming locomotive, are two of the film's great action sequences. Its ending, in which master-of-disguise Haghi's surprising secret identity is revealed, provides one of the most shockingly surreal moments in Lang's ouevre.The years-ahead-of-its-time plotline involves Russian espionage activity in London.
Rudolf Klein-Rogge - Haghi
Gerda Maurus - Sonya Barranikowa
Lien Deyers - Kitty
Craighall Sherry - Secret Service Chief
Willy Fritsch - No. 326 (Det. Donald Tremaine, English version)
Louis Ralph - Hans Morriera
Lupu Pick - Mosimoto (Matsumoto, English Version)
Fritz Rasp - Col. Jellusic (Ivan Stepanov, English version)
Julius Falkenstein - Hotel Manager
Paul Hoerbiger - Franz (326's Valet/Chauffeur)
Georg John - Train Conductor
Paul Rehkopf - Strolch
Hans Heinrich Von Twardowski - Chief Jason's Secretary (Spy)
Hertha Von Walther - Lady Leslane