Film / Spies

Spies (Spione) is a German silent film from 1928, directed by Fritz Lang. Lang's next-to-last silent film, it tells the story of a nefarious spy ring headed by Haghi (Rudolf Klein-Rogge, one of Lang's regular actors), who masquerades as a banker (with his spy ring as the bank). One of Haghi's operatives, the beautiful Russian spy Sonia, has compromised an Army officer, Col. Jellusic, and is buying secrets from him. At the same time, Haghi's group is trying to obtain a copy of a secret treaty between Great Britain and Japan.

An agent from the Secret Service known only as Number 326 (Willy Fritsch) is hot on the trail of Haghi's spy ring. However, Haghi knows all about him, and assigns Sonia to seduce him and compromise him. This plan goes awry when Sonia falls in love with #326. Meanwhile, another of Haghi's pretty female spies is worming her way into the household of the Japanese ambassador who is about to sign the treaty.


  • Action Prologue: The opening sequence is a montage of all the bad things Haghi's group is up to, like breaking into office safes, murdering diplomats, and stealing documents.
  • All Part of the Show: The Secret Service figures out that Haghi is Nemo the clown, and surrounds the stage while Haghi is giving a performance as Nemo. Haghi shoots himself. The audience applauds.
  • Answer Cut: #326 asks if his identity is still a secret. His supervisor, Jason, assures him that it is. The film then cuts to Haghi, who has a complete dossier on #326, including photos.
  • Blackmail: Haghi gets intel on the secret treaty by blackmailing a diplomat's wife who has a heroin habit.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Agent #719, aka Nemo the clown, who is seen conferring with Jason and #326 in one scene, turns out to be Haghi himself.
  • Code Name / Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" / No Name Given: #326 is called only that over the course of the movie; his real name is never mentioned.
  • Cyanide Pill: One of Haghi's operatives takes poison after he is arrested by the Secret Service.
  • Dating Catwoman: #326 starts up a relationship with Sonia, an enemy spy.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: #326 does this after Sonia cleans out her apartment and disappears.
  • Evil Cripple: Haghi is bound to a wheelchair—although, as the ending reveals, he's faking it.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Sonia, sent to spy on #326, falls in love with him instead, and eventually works for the good guys against Haghi.
  • His Name Is...: One of the Secret Service agents goes into his superior's office, says "I saw the man—", and is promptly shot by a sniper through the window.
  • Honey Pot: Sonia was intended to be this for #326, but she undergoes a High-Heel–Face Turn and works for the good guys. The woman who seduces Matsumoto and steals the treaty is a straight example.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: After Haghi exposes Col. Jellusic as a spy, his superiors do this with Jellusic. He shoots himself.
  • MacGuffin: Here it's the Japanese secret treaty that Haghi is determined to get information about.
  • The Mole
    • When reporting to his superior's office, #326 spots that his superior's aide has a spy camera. The aide is promptly arrested.
    • The ending reveals that agent #719, who is working undercover as Nemo the Clown, is actually Haghi himself.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: The Haghi Bank is really this. They appear to be into espionage for profit.
  • Opium Den: Where Lady Leslane likes to spend time.
  • Pocket Protector: The guy that Sonia shoots in the hotel reveals a book with the bullet inside. Although, since the whole incident is a ruse to arrange a Meet Cute with #326, it was probably staged.
  • Seppuku: Matsumoto sends out three couriers to take the treaty back to Japan. All three of them are killed by Haghi, who gets all three of their diplomatic parcels—which contain shredded newspaper. Matsumoto, who has kept the treaty in his office while sending out three decoys, then winds up letting the honey pot that's been living with him steal the treaty. After hallucinating the ghosts of the three couriers, Matsumoto kills himself.
  • Shout-Out: One scene shows an alleyway strewn with posters for Lang's previous film, Metropolis.
  • Spy Fiction: Of the Martini Flavored subtype, with the dashing agent #326, the sexy honeypots, the evil lair, etc.
  • Yellowface: Matsumoto, the Japanese diplomat, is played by Romanian Lupu Pick.