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(1962 aka TERROR OF THE MAD DOCTOR) Gerte Frobe, Wolfgang Preiss, Senta Berger. A well done remake of Lang's 1933 classic. The head of an asylum is controlled by the spirit of the dead, evil genius, Dr. Mabuse who had hypnotized him. Upgraded 4-95. Written by
Dr. Mabuse's will to crime captures his psychiatrist while Lohmann unravels his crimes
In this well-done update (1962) of Lang's famous "The Testament of Dr. Mabuse" (1933), Gert Frobe plays a jaunty Inspector Lohmann. Wolfgang Preiss plays an institutionalized Mabuse with an icy stare. Walter Rilla plays a learned Professor taken in and controlled by Mabuse. Charles Regnier has a large part as Mabuse's executive chief of criminal operations. Helmut Schmid plays an ex-boxer, Jonny Briggs, who joins the gang and finds it too brutal. Leon Askin plays an ex-cop in Mabuse's gang and a self-appointed police informer. Harald Juhnke (I believe) is Lohmann's light-hearted assistant. Senta Berger is the girl friend of Briggs.
This is an excellent cast, and they bring the story, now well-known, to life. This smooth and enjoyable version succeeds in its retelling by its professionalism, its content and by being itself and not trying to be an imitation.
Dr. Mabuse was revived as a character in 1960 by Lang in "The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse", and that was followed in 1961 by "The Return of Dr. Mabuse" and "The Invisible Dr. Mabuse" (1962). "Testament" was followed by "Dr. Mabuse vs. Scotland Yard" (1963), "The Death Ray of Dr. Mabuse" (1963), "The Vengeance of Dr. Mabuse" (1972), and "Docteur M" or "Club Extinction" (1990).
This version uses the same elements as in the original story, without following that story. This version looks back and also ahead by being quite nonlinear in its progress and development. This is in keeping with the power of Mabuse and the indirect way in which he operates. This keeps the story unpredictable and lively, but the story itself has a number of very good twists that arise naturally from the characters.
It's always fun to see holdups and capers, when they are not too brutal. We get to see several well-executed robberies, an armored car, a jewel heist, a train robbery, and a bank robbery.
One may or may not appreciate the introduction of non-serious elements into this version. It's like the 60s spirit has infiltrated the movie to some extent. Frobe's Lohmann is rather light-hearted and his assistant is something of a clown. Regnier's character has his own wit, but it's darker and more sarcastic. We get plenty of seriousness from the rest of the action and cast. Schmid, Rilla and Askin all bring weight to their portrayals. These are acting stalwarts who never fail to hold our attention on the screen.
There are some splendid sets, such as the vault in which Mabuse conveys his orders to the gang. There is some very good noir photography along the way. The final night time chase scene is as exciting as the original. The music is typical of euro-cinema of this period, and that has a bit of a whimsical sound in the way the jazz score is done. Combined with the dubbing, the effect is to lighten up the proceedings. I enjoy this, but it may not be to everyone's taste. This is why I say to take the movie on its own terms, and I think it's under-rated at 5.2.
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