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Dr. Mabuse the Gambler

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dr. Mabuse the Gambler
Доктор Мабузо плакат Малевича.jpg
Russian theatrical release poster by Kazimir Malevich
Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced by Erich Pommer
Screenplay by Fritz Lang
Thea von Harbou
Based on Doctor Mabuse
by Norbert Jacques
Starring Rudolf Klein-Rogge
Aud Egede-Nissen
Gertrude Welcker
Alfred Abel
Bernhard Goetzke
Cinematography Carl Hoffmann
Uco-Film GmbH
Distributed by Universum Film AG
Release date
  • 27 April 1922 (1922-04-27) (Germany)
(Part 1)
  • 26 May 1922 (1922-05-26) (Germany)
(Part 2)
Running time
154 minutes (Part 1)
114 minutes (Part 2)
Country Weimar Republic
Language German intertitles

Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (German: Dr. Mabuse der Spieler) is the first film in the Dr. Mabuse series about the character Doctor Mabuse who featured in the novels of Norbert Jacques. It was directed by Fritz Lang and released in 1922. The film is silent and would be followed by the sound sequels The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) and The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960).

It is four and a half hours long and divided into two parts, originally released a month apart: Der große Spieler: Ein Bild der Zeit and Inferno: Ein Spiel von Menschen unserer Zeit. The title, Dr. Mabuse der Spieler, makes use of three meanings of the German Der Spieler which can mean gambler, puppeteer, or actor. The character Dr. Mabuse, who disguises himself, manipulates people, and is a notorious gambler, embodies all senses of the word. Therefore, the Player might be a more appropriate translation of the title.

The film is included in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, being the first of five Lang films to be entered.[1]

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  • Dr Mabuse The Gambler 1922 Part 1
  • Dr Mabuse The Gambler 1922 Part 2
  • Dr. Mabuse the Gambler, Part I - The Great Gambler: An Image of the Age
  • Dr Mabuse, Part 1 - Fritz Lang (1922) - Mute - Eng
  • Dr Mabuse The Gambler [clip] | Fritz Lang | 1922


The restoration was carried out in 2000 by the Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau Foundation in Wiesbaden, based on the camera negative for distribution in Germany and an export negative from the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv in Berlin. This version follows a reconstruction by the Filmmuseum München from 1991. The intertitles were taken from the negatives. Missing, faulty or damaged titles were revised and restored with the help of the censor records. The comparison and copying was carried out by L'Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna. The master negative of this edit was used for the 2K digital version. <i>DR MABUSE, THE GAMBLER.</i> After the novel published in the Berliner Illustrierten Zeitung by Norbert Jacques. Scenario: Thea von Harbou. Direction: Fritz Lang. Collaborators: Production Design: Otto Hunte and Stahl-Urach. Director of Photography: Carl Hoffmann. The wardrobes of the principal actresses were designed by Vally Reinecke in the fashion studios of Flatow-Schédler and Mossner. The principal cast and their support: Dr Mabuse: Rudolf Klein-Rogge Cara Carozza, the Dancer: Aud Egede Nissen Countess Dusy Told: Gertrude Welker Count Told: Alfred Abel State Prosecutor von Wenk: Bernhard Goetzke Edgar Hull: Paul Richter Spoerri: Robert Forster-Larrinaga Georg: Hans Adalbert von Schlettow Pesch: Georg John Hawasch: Karl Huszar Fine: Grete Berger Karsten: Julius Falkenstein The Russian: Lydia Potechina Emil Schramm: Julius Herrmann PART ONE: THE GREAT GAMBLER. AN IMAGE OF THE TIME. FIRST ACT. How he spends his days... You've taken cocaine again, Spoerri! You know I don't tolerate that! If I see you in this state one more time, I'll drive you out like a dog! If you drive me out... then I'll put a bullet through my head - ! <i>COMMERCIAL CONTRACT</i> 1kg platinum for 3 million Salvarsan, 160,000 bales of cotton for the 1st of March to France via Switzerland, notified... Banknotes, Spoerri...! You're late again by 10 minutes... You're not to be late when you're in my service... You'd better be careful, Pesch - ! Calm yourself, sir; you may travel on with my car. Make sure that the special announcements burst into the stock exchange at just the right moment. Half an hour later, the briefcase with the contracts must be "discovered". Is that understood? I'm not doing this anymore - running around at 200km! It's modern cannibalism! Why not go your own way then, my boy? Yes, yes, dear friend... if only there were no elimination committee - what?! You've only just bothered getting home, you filthy pig - ? Blind - ! For as long as the European currencies keep falling, only make dollar notes! The special announcement. <i>Special Announcement.</i> <i>Courier Robbed!</i> <i>Important Secret Contracts Stolen!</i> <i>The Dutch courier that was supposed to bring the secret trade contract</i> <i>between Holland and Switzerland to Geneva</i> <i>was discovered in the non-stop train robbed and dazed.</i> <i>The briefcase containing the secret contract is missing.</i> <i>There is no clue as to the whereabouts of the person responsible.</i> <i>It's feared that Switzerland may step back from the contract</i> <i>should the contents become public knowledge -</i> <i>which would result in the Dutch coffee and cocoa concerns</i> <i>directly involved in the contract virtually facing disaster.</i> Sternberg sells - !? Then there's something fishy about all of this! Bear-market! !! I buy - ! <i>Special Announcement.</i> <i>Courier Robbed!</i> <i>Important Secret Contracts Stolen!</i> <i>The Dutch courier that was supposed to bring the secret trade contract</i> <i>between Holland and Switzerland to Geneva</i> <i>was discovered in the non-stop train robbed and dazed.</i> <i>The briefcase containing the secret contract is missing.</i> <i>There is no clue as to the whereabouts of the person responsible.</i> <i>It's feared that Switzerland may step back from the contract</i> <i>should the contents become public knowledge -</i> <i>which would result in the Dutch coffee and cocoa concerns</i> <i>directly involved in the contract virtually facing disaster.</i> The briefcase with the Dutch-Swiss trade contract - has been found by a rail attendant! The secret contract... The contract has been delivered unscathed to the Swiss Consulate!!! <i>Swiss secret contract delivered unscathed to consulate.</i> <i>No reason whatsoever to panic. Details to follow.</i> Bull-market!!! I sell - ! Market close - !! END OF THE FIRST ACT. SECOND ACT. How he spends his nights... <i>Philharmonic: Scientif. Lectures: Series IV</i> <i>Today: 3rd Lecture by Psychoanalyst Professor Dr Mabuse:</i> <i>Psychoanalysis as a Factor of Modern Medicine</i> <i>Beginning of lecture: 8 o'clock. Guests are welcome.</i> <i>Association for Psychoanalytical Research.</i> If I succeed in establishing contact between physician and patient in a way that fully excludes third-party interference, I'll be of the firm conviction that, in the future, 80% of all nervous disorders can be healed through psychoanalysis... Once your tumultuous applause has come to a halt, allow me, ladies and gentlemen, to announce the sensation of the Folies Bergéres: Miss Cara Carozza - !!! There's been a box reserved for me by the Hotel Excelsior. <i>Box 3, Seat 2 -</i> <i>Edgar Hull, only son of the industrialist Paul Hull -</i> <i>90 million - member of the "17 + 4" Club.</i> Don't mind me, kids, I'm going home! I can't take this headache any longer! Good evening, Mr Hull! You don't know me - ?! Come now! You do know me, Mr Hull -! You wanted to go into the club, Mr Hull - ? May I join you - ? The "17 Plus 4" Club... <i>Hotel Excelsior Room 111 reserved for you.</i> <i>You'll find further instructions there.</i> Hull is losing like mad... One Mr Balling holds the bank. ...the gentleman plays with the cards provided by the club itself... I would recommend, Mr Hull, that you stop playing for today... Allow me to express my embarrassment as a guest of your club for Mr Hull's situation, and permit me to hold the bank for a few more rounds! Gentlemen, it is five o'clock... I think it's time to finish... I've lost again... You'll have to be content until tomorrow afternoon with 20,000 marks and a promissory note of 150,000 marks. Might I ask your address? I gambled... I lost... to whom, by the way - ? To your friend! ! Friend? - What friend!? - That was the first time I saw the man! Who brought him into the club, anyway - ? I think you've had too much to drink, Hull! First you play va banque despite your bad luck, and at the end you claim not even to know the man you yourself brought along - !! You play va banque... hold the best cards in your hand - and throw them away??! What's happening to me - ?! END OF THE SECOND ACT. THIRD ACT. Excuse me, I must have taken the wrong door... I wanted Room 112... So Mr Balling gave me a false room number. My name is Balling... Hugo Balling... Did you write this - ? Then I don't owe you 150,000 marks from gambling, either? The room next door. What you can't load off onto a man - load off onto a woman! 9th November - Thursday 27th November - Monday <i>State Prosecutor von Wenk</i> Medias in res, Mr Hull: I've come to inform you that from today forward you're under the direct protection of the police! For about six weeks, the authorities have been receiving complaints concerning malicious gamblers. In none of these cases could cheating be proved. But their luck at cards is so unbelievable that it's impossible for things here to be on the up-and-up... It's always someone different... one time, a young gent; one time, an honourable bourgeois; today, a blond American; tomorrow, a dark-haired Russian... always someone different... Maybe - it's one person as well... Your experience with this mysterious Mr Bailing, which Karsten told me about, caused me to turn to you with the request for your support. We don't know why "Mr Balling" has, for now, renounced his 150,000 marks. Perhaps a precautionary measure - or maybe just a whim. Am I really no more to you - than just a means to the end...? You were supposed to be with Hull for ten minutes already! I am convinced he'll present you with your promissory note just when you expect it the least - at which point you should bring me a lead! One more thing, Mr Hull: I might request that you handle my visit as a strictly private matter, as far as anyone else is concerned... <i>State Prosecutor von Wenk</i> Here shee cahms - !!! <i>State Prosecutor von Wenk</i> What have you got of late for keeping dangerous acquaintances? <i>State Prosecutor von Wenk</i> He'd like me to introduce him into a few gambling clubs. Gardi, don't do anything stupid! Don't get us into a pickle with your state prosecutor! Emil Schramm, the proprietor... (Trade has a golden bottom!) It will be a pleasure for me to introduce you, but you'll have to do it without using your name - which nobody knows... In gamblers' circles, they call her "the Inactive One," as she herself never gambles. Most gracious madame, permit me to introduce you to Mr von Wenk - the most enchanted admirer of your beauty... Gentlemen, who shall take over the bank? How does a woman like you come into this kind of company? - Among racketeers, gamblers and prostitutes?... We have weary blood, Mr von Wenk! We need sensations of an altogether peculiar kind to be able to endure life! In any case, why aren't you playing? I prefer to observe the passions brought on by the game in the faces of others, without getting in too close contact with the players... Will you take - ? Cost 50,000 dollars at Tiffany in New York - ! Against the bank - !!! Will you take - ? A four... You want to do character-studies? Then look at the Russian... When she loses, she's marvellous! I only had a 3... I wanted to buy - but I couldn't! - He looked at me with his evil eyes, - like a devil!!! Yes... he had evil eyes - like a beast of prey.. At the game, no-one looks like a saint!! If you're as much a gentleman as I take you to be, then provide me the opportunity to leave the room unnoticed immediately! What is that supposed to meanl? Is a Mr Hull here? <i>Edgar Hull - Acknowledge to Mr Bailing 150,000 marks</i> <i>- hundred-fifty-thousand.</i> <i>To be paid until 21st November, 4 o'clock. E. Hull.</i> You are warned! It is my business alone that I do not collect the 150,000 marks. A GAMBLE IS A GAMBLE! A matter between you and me, and no business of any state prosecutor! END OF THE THIRD ACT. FOURTH ACT. The next morning. You were sitting next to him - and you didn't recognise him!! Don't you seel? Who Schramm's young blond man is...?? Your "Mr Balling", your distinguished old gentleman! We're doing everything to protect you. But don't make a move without notifying me... One more thing, Mr Hull: don't be too confiding in Miss Cara Carozza... Dear Hull, even the most charming woman makes a poor keeper of interesting secrets! <i>State Prosecutor von Wenk</i> Masked as a gambling-mad racketeer in the secret gambling clubs, I'm going to try to lure the "mystery man" onto my trail - and you should assist me in this! Please go to Carozza immediately and get me a list of the secret gambling clubs, which I'll then visit each evening! <i>Very dear Mr von Wenk!</i> <i>As I take it I have to explain some things to you,</i> <i>and as I do not want you to take me for a woman</i> <i>seeking trivial adventures in gambling clubs,</i> <i>I would like to ask you to take tea with me this afternoon</i> <i>at my house at five o'clock.</i> <i>Respectfully yours, Dusy Countess Told</i> Please don't hold me responsible for what you see here, Mr von Wenk! It's my husband's hobbyhorse! <i>Hhank you...</i> You spared me an awkward dispute - and spared my husband the bitter discovery that his wife seeks respite in nightclubs and gambling dens from the dead atmosphere of his home. I need life, the strong breath of the unusual - sensation - adventure... but I'm afraid all of that is extinct...! You're incorrect, Countess... There's still adventure - and I am, at the moment, in the middle of one of the most interesting sorts! Would you care to take part in this with me? The man, the enemy I'm persecuting... I don't know who he is... I only know that he's <i>there.</i> I want to warn you... For the first time in my life, I'm really worried about you...! Watch out for Wenk - ! Bring me convincing proof of the existence of your "mystery man", and I'll prepare to become your ally in the fight against him! You gamble with money, - with people, - with destinies... And, most harrowingly, with yourself...! <i>Good luck! -Karsten</i> The third evening... <i>Fashion Shop / Password: Blue Fox Wine Tavern / Password: Smuggle</i> <i>Café / Password: Marble Palais Andalusia / Password: Pineapple</i> <i>Bar / Password: Venus Café / Password: Cherry</i> <i>Dancehall / Password: Ace Hearts</i> Pineapple... Cocaine or cards - ? Cards... Those are Chinese glasses, aren't they... Yes, - from TSI-NAN-FU - !! Your take - !!! Your take - !!! N0-! YOUR TAKE!!! No-!!! Wasn't that the gentleman from Room 340...? No, sir! It was the Dutch professor from Room 321. I'd like to speak to the manager! Who lives in 321. He lives by himself? How can it be, then, that... Please call your hotel detective! Taken off... Who's left the hotel in the last ten minutes? Only the office manager! Me? - I was holed up in the office till now! I think you can feel free to let Room 321 to someone else! END OF THE FOURTH ACT. FIFTH ACT. Coming to... I summoned Hawasch and Spoerri to be here at six o'clock... Why aren't they here yet - !? This goes back to the state prosecutor.. I'm no vulture...! <i>State Prosecutor NORBERT VON WENK is authorised</i> <i>to carry out arrests at any time,</i> <i>and to request any assistance from the police</i> <i>and from government representatives, state authorities,</i> <i>and public transport clerks.</i> <i>His orders must be strictly obeyed. - Wogenbruch</i> Get Carozza in here - ! Well, you can congratulate yourselves... <i>Wine Tavern / Password: Smuggle</i> <i>Café / Password: Marble</i> <i>Palais Andalusia / Password: Pineapple</i> You bloodhound, you goddamned bloodhound! You still want to rebel, you scoundrel - ?! What do I pay you for if at the first opportunity you wilt like a flower and let the state prosecutor escape...?!?! We have to get rid of Hull -! And above all - Wenk - ! Georg will do it... both of you will help... Carozza will set it up...! State prosecutor, sir, half an hour ago a chauffeur brought a parcel for you! I just dropped in for a moment, Gardi, to tell you that a fabulous new spot will be opening tonight. We really have to go there! <i>Tonight, opening of the Petit Casino, Haydn-Strasse ll, password: Mirabeau.</i> <i>Be there punctually at ll o'clock with Hull.</i> <i>Make sure that Wenk is not with you! - B.</i> <i>Tonight, opening of the Petit Casino, Haydn-Strasse ll, password: Mirabeau.</i> <i>Be there punctually at ll o'clock with Hull.</i> <i>Make sure that Wenk is not with you! -B.</i> <i>Thursday, Police HQ, Monday, Lecture Haydnstrasse ll</i> Anyway go there with Carozza, but behave as innocently as possible so she doesn't suspect anything. There won't be any danger on your part, - I'll be there for you! The countess is very sorry that she cannot receive the state prosecutor, but the master and mistress are invited to a spiritualist sitting this evening... Haydnstrasse 11... You seem to have the "Open sesame!" for all secret doors, Mr State Prosecutor! Ladies and gentlemen! I have the honour and the great pleasure to officially open the Petit Casino in your highly esteemed presence! The Petit Casino has taken on the task of meeting even your most demanding requirements in every respect. Here in our highly modern environment and attire, you should feel returned to the golden age, where there was only one motto: "Whatever pleases you is permitted!"... The other world... Most gracious countess, you shall be rewarded for your patience with an extraordinarily interesting acquaintance! To begin our séance we only await the appearance of one of our best-known psychoanalysts, who is very interested in the occult sciences! Ladies and gentlemen! I have now acquainted you with the invaluable inner and outer amenities of the Petit Casino... But what will happen should the police seek to interfere with our private matters and disrupt the game - ??? In that instance... She accomplishes absolutely nothing! Now, ladies and gentlemen, you're familiar with everything... <i>Let the games begin!</i> There's a strange element among us! I'm afraid, ladies and gentlemen, the troublemaker is me! Don't let me disturb you, ladies and gentlemen, it will be a great pleasure for me to keep the countess company! Why shouldn't the table move? - Discretion is the better part of valour - ! I'm afraid there's absolutely nothing in the world that could hold my interest for any amount of time... Everything you can see from the car, the theatre box, the window is on one hand repulsive, on another uninteresting... At the very least it's boring! You're right, countess - nothing in the world is interesting for any amount of time! <i>- Except for one thing...</i> Gambling with people and people's fates! Take care that Carozza doesn't realise I'm leaving, - I'll phone the next police station and have the whole party arrested. But under no circumstance should you leave Hull unattended! I've asked Dr Mabuse to do us the pleasure of joining us on Thursday evening... Where could Wenk be? Kids, the whole matter's getting uncomfortable! Eventually that state prosecutor will put the police at our throats, and we'll be in quite a jam! The cars are parked in the side street... The woman...! Arrest the woman - !! END OF THE FIFTH ACT. SIXTH ACT. Should we do something to free Carozza? What do I care now about Carozza?! She'd be better looking out for herself! You don't know how much you're putting at stake, state prosecutor sir, by keeping me locked up! I give you one more week for Wenk in which you can work in complete safety, - but not a minute longer... <i>I want him gone - !!!</i> Would it be terribly rude if I... tell this Dr Mabuse not to come...? I can't really explain it! I know neither why I invited him, nor why I'd like to renounce the invitation... I... State Prosecutor von Wenk wishes to know whether the countess will receive him! In one hour I wish to have an exact plan of the Told's estate in my hands. You assured me recently of your assistance, - I'm here today to take you up on the offer. The woman... That woman... - ! You must voluntarily let us take you to prison with Carozza, as though you too had been arrested in a gambling club, - and I'm convinced you'll succeed where we men failed: in getting Carozza to open her mouth! Consider the fact that we're going to get on the trail of one of the most dangerous criminals of all time, and that you'd therefore practically be fulfilling an ethical duty! What - ?!! He's in the round room? Where Carozza was living - ?! This room must be readied immediately, Spoerri! This evening, then - at police headquarters! That evening... Miss Carozza, - what a coincidence!!! Just imagine - I was arrested! At Schramm's! Then they dragged me over here. I'm embarrassed, - I'm beside myself - ! What am I doing here - ? Excellent question! - Are you voluntarily here, perhaps - !?! I heard you were mentioned in connection with that gruesome murder! Ridiculous - ! How can someone think of anything so absurd?! Did you happen to be in the vicinity when the murder occurred...?! Aren't you at all <i>ashamed -</i> ? The state prosecutor is stumped! And now he hopes to get some help from me - ! From me, someone more pitiful and alone than a stray dog - ! He didn't leave you of his own free will, though... He's dead, when it comes right down to it...! Who - is dead - ??! What should <i>he</i> die of? <i>He</i> can only destroy himself... Of whom - are you speaking? Who he is - nobody knows! He's here! He's alive! He lives above the city - big as a tower - He's damnation and salvation! He's the greatest man alive! And he loved me! Does that exist in the world? And now ask yourself what in the world could compel me to betray this singular man to you pitiful creatures - !!! Forgive me, Miss Carozza... I didn't know... that you love him... <i>Dearest Mr von Wenk!</i> <i>When I agreed to rat out Carozza in prison under false pretences</i> <i>I believed I was finding the paid lackey of a terrible criminal.</i> <i>But what I ended up finding was a loving woman</i> <i>whose simple and unquestioning feelings made me ashamed</i> <i>for acting in such a miserable and calculating manner.</i> <i>I am not a suitable ally for you.</i> <i>Forgive me if I am compelled to disappoint you -</i> <i>- yours, Dusy Countess Told</i> The great game... How do you stand on Expressionism, Doctor? Expressionism is just playing-about... But why not play about? - Everything's just playing-about these days - ! As everything's just playing-about, doctor, I hope you don't mind if we head over to the poker-table just now... Your husband has some luck with gambling! Curious.. My husband usually never gambles...! I learned about something which I never thought existed in the world, - and which seems to me more valuable, and poignant, than even the strongest sensation...! Love... There's no love, - there's only desire! - There's no luck, - there's only the will to power! Told's got downright unbelievable luck - ! Should I give you proof of the power of the will? Cheater - !! All mine - !!! END OF PART ONE.



Part I — The Great Gambler: A Picture of the Time (Part I - Der große Spieler: Ein Bild der Zeit)

Dr. Mabuse is a criminal mastermind, doctor of psychology, and master of disguise, armed with the powers of hypnosis and mind control, who oversees the counterfeiting and gambling rackets of the Berlin underworld. He visits gambling dens by night under various guises and aliases, using the power of suggestion to win at cards and finance his plans. Among his many henchmen are: Spoerri, his cocaine-addicted manservant; Georg, his chauffeur and sometime assassin; Pesch, an inept goon; Hawasch, who employs a gang of blind men in a counterfeiting operation; Fine, a woman who serves as a lookout; and Folies Bergère dancer Cara Carozza, who loves him.

As the film opens, Mabuse orchestrates the theft of a commercial contract in order to create a temporary panic in the stock market, which he exploits to make huge profits.

Edgar Hull, the son of a millionaire industrialist, becomes Mabuse's next victim. As "Hugo Balling", Mabuse gains access to Hull's gentlemen's club and wins a small fortune at cards from the hypnotized Hull, who is made to play badly and recklessly. Afterwards, Hull is unable to account for his behavior.

State prosecutor Norbert von Wenk takes an interest in Hull, believing he is the latest in a string of victims similarly tricked by the elusive "Great Unknown". Von Wenk goes undercover at a gambling den, where he encounters a disguised Dr. Mabuse. Mabuse attempts to hypnotize von Wenk, but he effectively resists. Mabuse flees. Von Wenk, quickly regaining his faculties, gives chase through the city, but the doctor escapes. Boarding a taxicab driven by Georg, von Wenk is gassed, robbed, and set adrift in a rowboat.

Dr. Mabuse realizes that Hull is assisting the state prosecutor, and resolves to eliminate both men. Carozza, who has been romancing Hull on Mabuse's orders, lures the young man to a new illegal casino; when von Wenk calls in the police to raid the place, Carozza, Hull and a police bodyguard exit through the back door, where Georg awaits. He kills Hull, but Carozza is caught and jailed. Von Wenk questions her for information about the "Great Unknown", but she refuses to speak. Von Wenk enlists the aid of Countess Told (nicknamed the "Passive Lady"), an aristocrat bored by her dull husband and seeking thrills wherever she can find them, to try to get the information by trickery. The Countess is placed in the same cell, an apparent victim of another raid, but Carozza is not fooled. Carozza reveals only her great love for Mabuse, ensuring her silence. The Countess, moved by Carozza's passion, tells von Wenk that she cannot continue to assist him.

Dr. Mabuse does nothing to extricate Carozza from jail. He instead attends a séance where he meets Countess Told, who (while under his hypnotic influence) invites him to her house. Once there, Mabuse, taken by the Countess's beauty, decides to display his power by telepathically inducing her husband, Count Told, to cheat at poker. His guests are outraged when they detect it, and the Countess faints. Dr. Mabuse uses the distraction to abduct her and imprison her in his lair.

Part II — Inferno: A Game for the People of our Age (Part II - Inferno: Ein Spiel von Menschen unserer Zeit)

A sick and disgraced Count Told seeks the help of Dr. Mabuse to treat his depression; Mabuse uses this chance to isolate the Count in his manor and cut off any inquiries about the Countess's whereabouts. The Count's condition worsens, and he is tormented by hallucinations.

Meanwhile, Carozza is moved to a women's prison and again interrogated by von Wenk. Fearing betrayal, Mabuse sanctions Carozza's death. Georg smuggles poison to her cell, which she takes out of loyalty. Another of Mabuse's henchmen, Pesch, bombs von Wenk's office while posing as an electrician, but von Wenk is unharmed and Pesch detained. Mabuse – again fearing betrayal – arranges for Pesch to be killed by a sniper while being transported in a police wagon.

Intent on leaving town, Mabuse gives the captive Countess the choice of going with him voluntarily. Her refusal angers him, and Mabuse vows that he will kill the Count. Through his powers of suggestion, he induces the Count to commit suicide with a razor blade. When von Wenk investigates his death, he questions Dr. Mabuse as the Count's psychoanalyst. Dr. Mabuse speculates that the Count had fallen under the control of a hostile will, and asks von Wenk if he is familiar with the experiments of one "Sandor Weltemann", who will be performing a public demonstration of telepathy and mass hypnosis at a local theater.

Von Wenk and his men attend Weltemann's show. Weltemann is none other than Mabuse in disguise, and his magic show provides him an opportunity to hypnotize von Wenk, who falls into a trance. Mabuse's secret command to von Wenk is to leave the auditorium, get in his car, and drive off a cliff, but von Wenk's men intercede just in time. Coming to his senses, von Wenk orders a siege of Mabuse's house.

Dr. Mabuse and his men make a final stand. In the ensuing gunfight, Hawasch and Fine are killed, Spoerri and Georg are taken into custody, and the Countess is rescued. Dr. Mabuse flees through an underground sewer to Hawasch's counterfeiting workshop, where he becomes trapped, as the doors cannot be opened from the inside. There, Mabuse is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and various demonic illusions.

Spoerri, under interrogation, identifies a key found at Mabuse's mansion as being for the workshop. Von Wenk and the police break in and take the now-insane Dr. Mabuse away. In Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, known also as The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse) it is revealed that he is confined to an insane asylum.



Production of the first part of Dr. Mabuse the Gambler began while the novel on which it is based, Norbert Jacques' Dr. Mabuse der Spieler was still being serialized.[2] The film made a number of important changes from the book version. In the book the characters engage in constant soliloquies which would not have adapted well to film, particularly a silent film which would have required many intertitles to make that work.[3] The film also eliminated a subplot in which Mabuse's actions are shown to be motivated by a desire to create his own country within South America.[3] Film historian David Kalat points out that by eliminating reference to Mabuse's motivation Lang starts to dehumanize the character, which helped lead to the character becoming a franchise.[3] But Kalat also notes that this eliminates the irony of the fact that Mabuse was seen by many viewers as a representation of aspects of Adolf Hitler, and many Nazis actually fled to South America after World War II.[3]

Lang and von Harbou also added some elements to the film that were not in the novel. One of Mabuse's key skills in the film is as a counterfeiter, but in the novel he never engaged in this.[3] Mabuse's role in counterfeiting money adds to the social subtext and to the themes of the film.[3] The film's opening, a 20-minute tour de force introducing the myth of Mabuse, was also not in the novel.[3] The introduction starts with Mabuse shuffling a deck of photos like playing cards which will determine which disguise he will use that day and culminates with Mabuse manipulating a stock market crash.[3] Kalat traces the inspiration for this sequence to Louis Feuillade's 1913 Fantômas II: Juve contre Fantômas (Juve vs. Fantômas).[3] The ending to the second part of Dr. Mabuse is also unique to the film.[3]

The film incorporates a number of special effects such as animations and superimpositions.[3] One aspect that was cheered upon the film's original release was the nighttime scene of the automobile chase in which Wenk chases Mabuse, which David Kalat called the most successful execution of such nighttime photography to that time.[3]

It was during the production of this film that Lang and von Harbou began their affair which would ultimately result in their marriage.[3] Although von Harbou was married to Klein-Rogge at the time, their separation was amicable and did not create a problem for the film.[3]


A key theme of the film is the dissolution of German society after World War I.[2][3] The film portrays but exaggerates the difficult conditions during the period making the film's world a dystopia.[4][5] The worthless counterfeit money created by Mabuse reflects the nearly worthless Deutsche Mark during the hyperinflation resulting from the Weimar Republic printing excessive money to pay war reparations.[1][2][3] The stock market swings, gambling parlors and miserable living conditions for poor people depicted in the film were also reflections of conditions in Germany at the time.[2]

The character of Dr. Mabuse can also be seen as depiction of "the power of evil or a distorted inner psyche".[2] Lang scholar Paul Jensen interpreted Mabuse as "a symbol to unite all the negative factors in Germany at the time".[3] The film depicts difficult problems such as rampant crime, worthless money and a volatile stock market as thus being under the control of a single man.[1][3][5] Bernd Widdig points out that while Dr. Mabuse is not an anti-Semitic film, aspects of Mabuse's character may have reflected contemporary stereotypes of Jews, especially since he acts in stereotypically Jewish roles such as psychoanalyst, banker, peddler and revolutionary, and consistent with the views on Jews of some contemporary Germans his manipulations were responsible for problems in society.[2] A contemporary Nazi critic wrote that Mabuse is "a quintessential Jewish figure" who goes through time with the singular goal of "mastery of the world" regardless of the consequences to others and whose descent into insanity caused his crimes to go unpunished in what the Nazi critic described as "the typical case of the Jewish criminal".[2] On the other hand, Mabuse with his hypnotic power over the masses in pursuit of evil has also been seen as a foreshadowing of Adolf Hitler.[4] In the sequel The Testament of Dr. Mabuse the link between the Mabuse character and the Nazis is made stronger.[3] Lang stated that he viewed Mabuse as a Nietzschean Übermensch.[6] Lang also saw Mabuse's character as emblematic of a certain kind of money-accumulator in Weimar Germany referred to as a "Raffke".[3] The producer of Dr. Mabuse, Erich Pommer, saw the film as a depiction of the contemporary conflict between the liberal conservatives and the Marxist Spartacists in which the Mabuse character represented the Spartacists.[3]

Another theme in the film is surveillance and seeing without being seen.[6] Yet another theme is that of being versus seeming, portrayed through Mabuse's disguises and through buildings whose interiors seem inconsistent with their exteriors.[6]


Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung called the first part "the attempt to create an image of our chaotic times" in its April 30, 1922 issue.[2] It went on to state that it "will give people fifty or one hundred years from now an idea of an age that they could hardly comprehend without such a document."[2] Film-Kurier praised Klein-Rogge's "brilliant performance" and Lang's "sensitive yet experienced" direction.[2]

When the film was released in the United States in 1927 in a single film that was less than half the length of the original 2-part version, The New York Times criticized it for being too long and for the "hyperbolic overacting".[3][7] But when the full length version finally was released in the United States at the 1973 New York Film Festival, Times critic Nora Sayre praised it as being "something very good" and "possibly the hit of the festival".[3]

Variety praised the film's plot for its "speed and life" while acknowledging that it can be confusing.[7] Variety felt the best parts of the movie were the scenes between Mabuse and Von Wenk.[7] Variety praised several of the acting performances but felt Klein-Rogge was too small to be fully effective in the role, and praised some of Lang's technical effects while criticizing the overlong intertitles.[7] Time Out criticized the film for its "disorganised and erratically paced" narrative and "shaky" grasp of social reality but praised its "flashes of inspiration".[8] Entertainment Weekly reviewer Tim Purtell rated the film an A-, comparing the titular villain to those in the James Bond and Mission Impossible movies.[9] Purtell particularly praised the "sharp" plot turns, "stunning visuals" and Klein-Rogge's performance.[9] Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 93%, based on 14 reviews, with a rating average of 7.5/10.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Schneider, Stephen Jay (April 10, 2010). 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. Octopus Publishing Group, London. p. 37. ISBN 9781844036905. Retrieved 2012-09-23.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Widdig, Bernd (2001). "Uncanny Encounters: Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler". Culture and Inflation in Weimar Germany. University of California Press. pp. 113–134. ISBN 9780520924703.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Kalat, David (2005). The Strange Case of Dr. Mabuse: A Study of the Twelve Films and Five Novels. McFarland. pp. 36–48, 53–54, 70. ISBN 9780786423378.
  4. ^ a b Lyman, Stanford (2001). Roads to Dystopia, Sociological Essay on the Post Modern Condition. University of Arkansas Press. p. 232. ISBN 9781557287113.
  5. ^ a b "Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler". New York State Writers Institute. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  6. ^ a b c The Story Behind Dr. Mabuse (DVD). Kino Lorber. 2006.
  7. ^ a b c d "Review: 'Dr. Mabuse der Spieler'". Variety. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  8. ^ "Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler". Time Out. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  9. ^ a b Purtell, Tim (July 21, 2006). "Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  10. ^ "Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler - Ein Bild der Zeit) (Dr. Mabuse, King of Crime) (1922) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 10 November 2016.

External links

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