Noted German director Lang returned to his native land to make his last film, a fine, low-budget sequel to his prewar films dealing with the notorious Dr. Mabuse, DR. MABUSE DER SPIELER (1922) and THE TESTAMENT OF DR. MABUSE (made in 1932, but not released in the US until 1943). Lang had
fled Germany after Hitler, impressed with Lang's METROPOLIS, offered him a position as the official Nazi filmmaker. (Lang expected the offer to be a trap and feared the Nazis would learn of his mother's Jewish background.) Lang went to France, where he directed one film. In 1934, in London, he was
signed by producer David O. Selznick to a one-picture deal with MGM. He sailed to the US and became a citizen in 1935. Taking his inspiration from an actual Nazi blueprint on how to bug a hotel, Lang fashioned this story about a series of strange murders in Berlin's fictional Hotel Luxor.
Authorities come to believe the man behind the crimes may be someone who believes he is a reincarnation of the evil Dr. Mabuse. Van Eyck is an American millionaire who saves Addams from killing herself at the Luxor, and the two become involved in the investigation. Frobe (later of GOLDFINGER) is
the police commissioner who thinks that either Preiss or Peters is the killer. Preiss is a supposedly blind clairvoyant, and Peters is an insurance salesman. Lang fills his eerie tale with a tightly controlled mise-en-scene, a world of hidden cameras, two-way mirrors, and mistaken impressions.
This film, which was dubbed into English for American release, is pure cinema, using camera angle, shot composition, and lighting to achieve an overwhelming power that stays long after the final reel goes through the projector. Five sequels followed in the wake of this film's enormous popularity:
THE RETURN OF DR. MABUSE (1961); SCOTLAND YARD HUNTS DR. MABUSE (1963); DR. MABUSE'S RAYS OF DEATH (1964); THE INVISIBLE DR. MABUSE (1965) and THE TERROR OF DR. MABUSE (1965).
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Noted German director Lang returned to his native land to make his last film, a fine, low-budget sequel to his prewar films dealing with the notorious Dr. Mabuse, DR. MABUSE DER SPIELER (1922) and THE TESTAMENT OF DR. MABUSE (made in 1932, but not released… (more)