Testament of Dr. Mabuse, The/Crimes of Dr. Mabuse, The/Last Will of Dr. Mabuse, The (1933)

Testament of Dr. Mabuse, The/Crimes of Dr. Mabuse, The/Last Will of Dr. Mabuse, The (1933)

“The ultimate purpose of crime is to establish the endless empire of crime.”

A disgraced cop (Karl Meixner) is driven insane before he’s able to tell his boss (Otto Wernicke) who the mastermind is behind mysterious plans to establish an “empire of crime”. During his investigation, Wernicke visits an asylum where Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) is housed, not realizing that Mabuse has manipulated the asylum’s director (Oscar Beregi) into doing his will. Meanwhile, when one of Mabuse’s hapless minions (Gustav Diessl) decides to tell his girlfriend (Monique Rolland) about his work as a counterfeiter, she supports him in breaking free from Mabuse’s clutches.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Detectives and Private Eyes
  • Fritz Lang Films
  • Gangsters
  • German Films
  • Mad Doctors and Scientists
  • Mind Control and Hypnosis

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that “for his second sound film Fritz Lang decided to bring back Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), the heinous genius criminal of his 1922 silent classic Dr. Mabuse the Gambler” — who, despite being unable to speak and living in an insane asylum, “has regained his desire to mastermind great crimes, commit terrorist acts, dominate people’s wills through mind control, [and] rule the world.” The bulk of Peary’s review is taken up with discussion of the film’s logistics — i.e., the fact that it was filmed in both French and German, that Joseph “Goebbels seized the German version because the script (although written by Lang’s Nazi wife, Thea von Harbou) drew parallels between madman Mabuse and Hitler,” and that (at the time GFTFF was published), one was only likely to see poorly dubbed versions in circulation (a situation since rectified). Peary does note that “you’ll still enjoy several sequences that have impressive visual elements,” including “a high speed car chase on a country road at night:

… a murder at a stoplight:

… Baum [Beregi] visualizing ghostly presences:

… and an underwater explosion.”

However, this sequel can’t quite live up to the atmospheric dread generated by its predecessor, and is only must-see for fans of Lang’s evolving oeuvre.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fritz Arno Wagner’s cinematography
  • Fine special effects and sound effects

Must See?
No, unless you’re a Lang fan.


2 thoughts on “Testament of Dr. Mabuse, The/Crimes of Dr. Mabuse, The/Last Will of Dr. Mabuse, The (1933)

  1. First viewing (1/14/20). Not must-see. Only for Lang completists.

    Not a bad film – more or less engaging throughout, with some particularly exciting sequences. Lang’s touch is firm and seems confident. Yet I couldn’t help but feel unsatisfied at the point of the film’s somewhat-confusing conclusion. The mad Mabuse’s threats begin to be carried out without a hitch – yet things start getting murky when the plot enters the areas of both Hofmeister and Baum’s insanity; the supposedly unstoppable Mabuse (or, rather, the power of his influence) suddenly becomes strangely shaky.

    The film’s first half – the intricate way the specifics of the master plan come together – seems to have more punch but the second half is not without its strengths.

  2. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Superb Lang crime flic with bags of atmosphere and style. Creepy as well. Definitely a must for FFs.

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