Fritz Lang, who was fluent in French, simultaneously shot a French language version under the title "Le Testament du Docteur Mabuse." The German cast members who were not fluent in French were replaced with French speaking actors. Rudolf Klein-Rogge had his dialog replaced with an early form of dubbing. See more »
Hofmeister supposedly scratches Mabuse's name in a window pane of his apartment with a ring, but Hofmeister is not wearing any rings when Division 2-B enter his apartment. See more »
This film's a thriller, a detective story, a ghost story; it has romantic and comic sub-plots, a striking array of sets, some of the first convincing special effects ever used, echoes of other films; and it is not hard to find in it political relevance to today. It's a lot to cram into two hours, and one has to work to follow every twist of the plot, but it is both a rewarding and entertaining experience.
The film draws on an exceptionally wide variety of cinematic styles. There are expressionist moments, and these are particularly striking, but they account for only two or three minutes out of a running time of 120. There are moments when one could almost be in a screwball comedy. And there are moments which come close to social realism it would be interesting to know whether the patients at the mental hospital played themselves. The dominant mode, though, is an anticipation of film noir.
I would, though, counsel against investing too much historical hindsight in this film yes, Fritz Lang did go into exile from the Nazis but it is more the shadow of Weimar than the shadow of Hitler that hovers in the background here.
Not perfect; not an absolute masterpiece: but an occasionally stunning and always stimulating film, which deserves 9 out of 10.
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