review for The Testament of Dr. Mabuse on AllMovie

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933)
by Patrick Legare review

The Testament of Dr. Mabuse was Fritz Lang's second sound film and a sequel to his enormously successful 1922 silent. Mixing several genres including cop drama, mystery, and horror, Lang created a rare hybrid picture full of striking characters and images. Lensed simultaneously in French and German, Testament details a three-pronged story: one about a crime ring run from behind a curtain by the evil Dr. Mabuse, a second about a guilt-stricken member of Mabuse's gang who has fallen in love, and a third about a determined detective who is stumped by the strange case. Marked by Lang's brilliant camerawork, the film connects the dots with a number of excellent scenes that culminate in one incredible sequence that jumps back and forth between two thrilling escapes: a couple trapped in a room with a ticking time bomb and the criminals stuck in another building with cops outside the door. In another memorable scene, a doctor who has connected Mabuse to the crimes is gunned down in heavy traffic when the killers use their horns to provide a noisy cover. The exciting car chase featured in the film's climax -- led by the evil doctor in his Mercedes -- was one of the first of its kind. Performances are very good across the board, but Otto Wernicke really steals the show as Detective Lohmann, a character Wernicke also played in Lang's 1931 classic M. Rudolf Klein-Rogge is sufficiently creepy in the part of Mabuse (he also played the Mabuse role in Lang's silent Dr. Mabuse), although his performance is limited to a handful of brief scenes and some chilling double-exposure shots in which his spirit steps out of his body to do its evil work. Co-star Rudolf Sch√ľndler, who plays the psycho gunman Hardy, later appeared in Dario Argento's Suspiria. Testament was later cut into a 75-minute, dubbed version that was titled The Crimes of Dr. Mabuse. Lang revisited the character of Mabuse in 1960's The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse, which turned out to be his final film.