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Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
The Terror of Dr. Mabuse

West Germany 1962
produced by
Artur Brauner, Wolf Brauner (executive) for CCC-Filmkunst
directed by Werner Klingler
starring Gert Fröbe, Walter Rilla, Senta Berger, Helmut Schmid, Charles Régnier, Wolfgang Preiss, Harald Juhnke, Leon Askin, Zeev Berlinsky, Albert Bessler, Arthur Schilsky, Claus Tinney, Alain Dijon, Alon Armand, Rolf Eden, Gerhard Hartig, Ann Savo (= Anneli Sauli), Günter Meisner
screenplay by Ladislas Fodor, Robert A.Stemmle, based on a story by Thea von Harbou, music by Raimund Rosenberger

Dr. Mabuse, CCC-Filmkunst's Dr. Mabuse, Kommissar Lohmann

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A serious crimewave is hitting Germany: A gang of gangsters led by the elegant Mortimer (Charles Régnier) is having their hands into all sorts of stuff from bankrobbery to forgery to robbing diamond dealers, and all their coups seem to be meticulously planned. Mortimer though is not the genius behind the crimes but merely the organiser, the brains of the operation is a mysterious stranger that even Mortimer and his men only see as a shadow behind a caqrpet, and police commissioner Lohmann (Gert Fröbe) soon figures it can only be one man: Doctor Mabuse (Wolfgang Preiss) ... but Mabuse has spent the last severyl years in Professor Polland (Walter Rilla) loonie bin and is under constant guardso he could have nothing to do witht he crimes, could he ...

Of course he could, it's simply a case of transmigration of souls, and so every night he possesses the mind of good Professor Polland and has made him the boss of his crime syndicate - in fact Mabuse is so good in that transmigration of souls thing that he can even allow his own body to die and still live on in Polland's mind.

But Mabuse/Polland and Mortimer make one decisive mistake when they hire Johnny (Helmut Schmid), a boxer fallen from grace, as their new thug, and Johnny can't keep up with all the killings going on during their crime and eventually wants to betray them to the police. Pretty soon too, Lohmann and his men have surrounded Mortimer and his gang, killed him and arrested the others. Now only the mastermind is missing, but poor Lohmann doesn't know that Polland is in fact Dr Mabuse these days, and Polland/Mabuse lets him walk into a trap and almost electrocutes him. But of course in the end, good triumphs over evil and during the final carchase, Polland drives his car into a lake and drowns ... and Mabuse with him - maybe.

Senta Berger has a small role in this as Johnny's girlfriend while Harald Juhnke is wasted as Lohmann's bumbling assistant.

 

During the 1960's, when Krimis (= crime films) were in high demand at the German box office following the phenomenal success of Rialto's Edgar Wallace series, producer Artur Brauner of CCC-Filmkunst exhumed Fritz Lang's mad scientist Doctor Mabuse and turned his exploits into a series of 6 movies during the 1960s (and one in the 1970's, Jess Franco's La Venganza del Dr. Mabuse). Some would call it blasphemous to even try to make a classic Fritz Lang character into a series, but for this film, Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse, Artur Brauner went even one step further and had one of Fritz Lang's classic films (click here) remade ...

Now even in writing that sounds like a surefire bad idea, however one must not forget quite a few things: First off, Lang's original was not his best film, it didn't even come close to its predecessor, M. Actually, Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse was more of a pulp film that wasn't without its lengths and that did feature a screenplay that, despite all its relevance, featured many ridiculous, even bad, plot devices. These plot elements translated into a silly little 1960's B-Krimi is an entirely different thing, the outdome is a good-natured piece of trash that is often unintentionally funny and entertaining throughout - if such a stupidity is your thing of course. That said, of course, the 1960's version lacks any of the political relevance of the original and Werner Klingler is of course not nearly as brilliant a director as Fritz Lang, so don#e expect a masterpiece ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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