Lang served in France during the First World War and then graduated from the University of Tennessee. He was given his chance to direct by Mrs. Wallace Reid, who subsequently appeared in The Satin Woman. Lang worked for Columbia and James Cruze, but by the mid-1930s he found his proper place at Fox, where he stayed for the rest of his career. As well as making a few comedies and romances, including a John Barrymore spoof, The Great Profile, and two Shirley Temple pictures—The Little Princess and The Blue Bird— Lang worked largely on musicals, whipping up the enthusiasm of Alice Faye, Betty Grable, Don Aineche, Carmen Miranda, and Dan Dailey. It need only be emphasized that the Fox product pales beside the MGM musicals.
In the 1950s, survival ensured that Lang was put in charge of a few major Fox musicals. The King and it was a great popular success, and With a Song in My Heart encouraged the full-blooded emotion of Susan Hayward. But the films as a whole are crude, listless, and ugly. Nikita Khrushchev frowned upon the vulgarity of CanCan. Cold War observers feared deeper motives behind this disapproval—perhaps the Russian only knew his Renoir.