The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)

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"The Testament of Dr. Mabuse" (1933)

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933). 124 minutes. Directed by Fritz Lang. Starring Otto Wernicke (as Inspector Lohmann), Karl Meixner (as Hofmeister), Oscar Beregi, Sr. (as Professor Baum), Gustav Diessl (as Thomas Kent), and Rudolf Klein-Rogge (as Dr. Mabuse).

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse is the last film that Fritz Lang made before leaving Nazi Germany.  It begins by introducing the disgraced police detective Hofmeister, who in order to redeem himself in the eyes of his superior, Inspector Lohmann, has doggedly and independently investigated a criminal syndicate. Before he can reveal the name of the head of the syndicate to Lohmann, something happens to Hofmeister to make him go mad, and he is subsequently placed in an asylum. In the same asylum, we find the criminal mastermind Dr. Mabuse, who is insane and rapidly writing strange instructions (his “testament”) on how to carry out illegal activity. Dr. Mabuse is supervised by the psychiatrist Professor Baum, who considers the crime boss … Read the rest

M (1931)

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M (1931)

M (1931).  110 minutes.  Directed by Fritz Lang.  Starring Peter Lorre (as Hans Beckert), Gustaf Gründgens (as The Safecracker), and Otto Wernicke (as Inspector Karl Lohmann).

It has often been pointed out that M is a terrific example of a film that bridges the silent and talkie periods.  M was German director Fritz Lang’s first talkie, and it makes use of sound in a very interesting way.  For many early filmmakers, their first ventures into sound became opportunities to show off the new technology by using sound constantly and extravagantly — hence the large number of musicals in the early days of sound films.  Lang’s M was different, though, in that it actually contained many evocative, intensely silent passages and, at other times, very carefully and strategically used sound.  For example, early in the film, we come to know that young Elsie Beckman (played by Inge Landgut) has disappeared for good when we spy her balloon silently trapped in the … Read the rest