The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) – reviewed by George

This sequel was also directed by Fritz Lang, but here Lang gets writing credit, along with Thea von Harbou. The film premiered in 1933 in Budapest, Hungary, because it had been banned in Germany. Later that year there was a French remake of the script with the title “The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse”.
Inspector Lohman (Otto Wernicke) is the star; Mabuse (Rudolf Klein Rogge) is hardly in the film. Many people in authority have had a subordinate they thought was upstanding turn out to have a flaw in their character, a weakness of conscience. Lohman’s disappointment was Hofmeister (Karl Meixner) who took a bribe from a black-marketer. Now Hofmeister is trying to get Lohman on the phone to tell him that he is working to make up for his mistake and get reinstated by tracing counterfeit money. When Lohman finally deigns to take the phone, Hofmeister says he knows who is behind it all, he has heard the name. Then he screams that the lights have gone out, and begs the inspector to help him. Here is where he should shout the name, but as in all mystery stories the detective never has it that easy. What Lohman hears next is gunfire.
Cut to Dr. Baum (Oscar Beregi) giving a lecture and telling the class the story of Mabuse from the first film. We know he became deranged, but now we hear that for years he has not spoken, still is cared for in an asylum, and only lately has he seemed to arouse himself to some degree of activity – he writes constantly, or at least until he subsides into his trance-like state again. The writing has gone from scribbles to complex descriptions of how crimes could be committed, without danger of capture and with huge financial gains. And what is happening to these papers?
Since Hofmeister actually got away, the gang is now planning his murder, and one man, Tom Kent (Gustav Diessl), expresses his displeasure that they are considering murder. So now this division of the criminal empire is wary and distrustful of him. Kent meets with his girlfriend Lilli (Wera Liessem) to celebrate an anniversary: one year ago they met at the unemployment office and she loaned him some money, which he quickly repaid by getting a job without the office’s help. Unfortunately it is the job he currently has with the gang. So now all the plot lines are in place, and we can approach the climax.
I wish this was as good as the first movie. It’s good, but it doesn’t have the breakneck pace I liked so much. There is a car chase at the end, and when the gang tries to kill Kent and Lilli, they leave them locked in a brick and steel room with a bomb. So there’s a lot going on. What’s really wrong is that I miss Mabuse, who never speaks. He does write a lot.

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