Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler (1922)

DR. MABUSE, THE GAMBLER (1922)
(a.k.a. DR. MABUSE, DER SPIELER)
Article #453 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 6-11-2002
Posting date: 11-4-2002

A supercriminal is at large who makes a fortune by using hypnotism on gamblers.

The full length print of this movie runs almost four and a half hours, from what I hear; my version runs one hour and forty-five minutes. I don’t know whether I’ve got an edited version of the whole feature or whether it’s just one of the two features that it was broken into at one point. At any rate, I’m fairly confident I’m missing quite a bit, so I’ll refrain from coming to any conclusions until I’ve had a chance to get a complete copy of the movie and watch it in its entirety, but from what I’ve been able to tell, it’s fairly fascinating. Rudolf Klein-Rogge is great as Mabuse, and what is fascinating is that he ends up exhibiting more human values than you would expect. According to one source, what the shorter versions are missing are some of the depictions of social conditions in Germany at the time, which I believe would make some fascinating viewing indeed. Chalk this one up as a movie that I will revisit some time in the future.

Postscript: I wrote the above several months ago; since then, I have acquired the DVD version of DR. MABUSE, that runs close to four hours, so I can extend my commentary. It turned out that I had only watched the first half of the movie.

I suspect that this was the movie that put Fritz Lang on the map; he’d had some earlier works, but there’s a scope to this one that makes it a significant leap for him. Dr. Mabuse is one of the most fascinating supervillains ever, especially inasmuch as he is allowed a greater range of emotion than this type of character is usually allowed. His ultimate fate in this movie is fascinating, largely because it is unlike the fate of practically any other supervillain I’ve seen in cinema history. This one is definitely worth catching.

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