Thursday, September 24, 2015

Capsule Review: Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1922)

Filled with bravura special effects and complex sequences, Dr. Mabuse the Gambler was the first Mabuse film - adapted from the book by Norbert Jacques and directed by the legendary Fritz Lang (who would later helm two more films featuring the character/concept. Split into two parts, the film introduces us to the master of disguise and mind control, who uses his powers - and an assortment of thugs - to pull off massive cons and bend people (and the economy) to his will. The film is presented in two lengthy parts, with a total running time of 270 minutes. The first half is subtitled A Picture of the Time and shows off the post-WWI cynicism of the German people that would eventually lead to the rise of National Socialism (itself eerily prognosticated by parallels between Mabuse and Hitler). Despite its length, it moves briskly and it's easy to see why Mabuse - who clearly influenced the later villains in Bond films and elsewhere - captured the public's imagination.

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