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Archive for January 3rd, 2010

by Allan Fish

(Germany 1922 270m) DVD1/2

Aka. Doctor Mabuse, the Gambler; The Great Gambler/Inferno; Doktor Mabuse, der Spieler: Ein Bild der Zeit

The world shall learn who I am

p  Erich Pommer  d  Fritz Lang  w  Thea Von Harbou, Fritz Lang  novel  Norbert Jacques  ph  Carl Hoffman  ed  Fritz Lang  m  Robert Israel  art  Otto Hunte, Erich Kettelhut, Karl Vollbrecht, Stahl-Urach  cos  Vally Reinecke

Rudolf Klein-Rogge (Dr Mabuse), Alfred Abel (Count Graf Told), Gertrude Welcker (Countess Dusy Told), Paul Richter (Edgar Hull), Aud Egide Nissen (Cara Carozza), Bernhard Goetzke (State Attorney Norbert von Wenk), Robert Forster Larrinaga (Spoerri), Georg John (Pesch), Julius Hermann (Emil Schramm), Lydia Potechina,

Here we have that ultimate pfennig dreadful, the grand-daddy of all criminal mastermind movies, as well as the inspiration behind two further sequels; the excellent The Testament of Dr Mabuse (see later essay) in 1932 and the not so excellent The 1,000 Eyes of Dr Mabuse in 1960.  For decades it was only available in a shortened export version, which trimmed the two part epic into one film of barely ten reels.  Eventually a 229m version surfaced in the early nineties, which seemed definitive prior to Transit Film’s restoration in 2000.  Finally restored to its full length, it remains a film which, though perhaps a trifle tedious in places, nonetheless dazzles the eye and mesmerises you for its entire running time, as if Mabuse himself had directed it.

            Doctor Mabuse is a psychoanalyst who uses mesmerism and other forms of hypnosis to variously cheat at the gambling tables, obtain secrets and make a killing on the stock exchange.  He then uses a dancer at the Folies Bergère to give him secrets on another man, Edgar Hull, who he then cons out of a fortune, while he also manipulates a count and his wife, resulting in the death of the former.  In the meantime, the State Attorney finds himself increasingly frustrated in his attempts to apprehend Mabuse, who literally seems to be above the law. (more…)

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