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Dr. Mabuse and his organization of criminals are in the process of completing their latest scheme, a theft of information that will allow Mabuse to make huge profits on the stock exchange. Afterwards, Mabuse disguises himself and attends the Folies Bergères show, where Cara Carozza, the main attraction of the show, passes him information on Mabuse's next intended victim, the young millionaire Edgar Hull. Mabuse then uses psychic manipulation to lure Hull into a card game where he loses heavily. When Police Commissioner von Wenk begins an investigation of this mysterious crime spree, he has little to go on, and he needs to find someone who can help him. Written by
Dr. Mabuse is one of cinema's first super-villains and one the best also!
Dr. Mabuse is one of cinema's first super-villains and one the best also! In addition to being a massive influence on screen villains ever since (just about every comic book bad guy can be traced back to this), its still an entertaining film despite its mammoth length. This film has been split into two parts, so its probably best to watch it in two different sittings. Its still easy to become absorbed with the break in between, and I can imagine that watching this film for four hours may eventually become a bit tedious. A film has to be really good to hold my interest for more than three hours. This isn't a masterpiece on the level of "Metropolis" or "M", but it is still a recommended viewing for silent film buffs and film fanatics in general.
The lead performance by Rudolf Klein-Rogge is memorable, making Mabuse a despicable individual yet still sympathetic in some ways. This is probably because hes easily the most interesting character in the whole film. Some have criticized having him fall in love, but I think it adds a layer of depth to the character. In some ways, he could be considered cinema's first anti-hero.
The first half ("The Gambler") is over the top with wonderful looks at German economy before Hitler came into power. The second half "King of Crime" isn't as flamboyant, but probably better because it has a plot. Plus, the sets in both are fantastic expressionism, and part two has a neat surreal nightmare sequence. Even though it can become silly at times and the situations and performances melodramatic, this is one of the most well-paced silents I've seen. Its better to see "Metropolis" first, but if you enjoyed that, check out "Dr. Mabuse". (8/10)
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