The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse (1960) – Film Review
Director: Fritz Lang
Cast: Dawn Addams, Peter Van Eyck, Gert Fröbe
by Sarah Morgan
Strictly Come Dancing fans should not get excited. This is not a film about current professional champion Oti Mabuse, or her sister, judge Motsi.
Oti did study to become an engineer, but she comes across as a cheerful, friendly soul – certainly not an evil mastermind; the Mabuse depicted here is, however, one of those.
Lang’s first movie in the series came just four years into his directing career; the two-part Dr Mabuse the Gambler was released in 1922, ran for four and a half hours, was inspired by the novels of Norbert Jacques and was a critical and commercial success.
Nine years later, the follow-up, The Testament of Dr Mabuse, is perhaps even better and went on to influence a number of directors.
The third entry is, sadly, the weakest of the three, although it does successfully marry up the dark and shadowy Expressionist style of its predecessors with the more stark approach adopted by Lang (perhaps due to his failing eyesight) during the latter part of his sojourn in Hollywood.
Following the puzzling murder of a TV journalist, Inspector Kras is assigned to investigate a number of odd occurrences to have taken place in or have connections to the outwardly ordinary and quite swanky Luxor Hotel.
One of its current guests, American industrialist Henry Travers, having fallen in love with the suicidal woman in the next room, is also tackling the situation from a different angle. Add into that a mysterious insurance salesman and a blind psychic, and you’ve got the making of a very bizarre tale.
There are two versions on the disc; the first is the original German release, the second has an English audio track. I chose to watch the latter, which is, as many dubbed movies are, rather stilted with dialogue that seems unnatural. Several members of the cast – including Peter van Eyck, Dawn Addams and Gert Fröbe (yes, the man who was Goldfinger) – could speak English, so I was expecting something more realistic.
A shame really, because there are some interesting moments, although it’s perhaps rather too reminiscent of an episode of a 1960s TV spy series, such as Danger Man or The Man from UNCLE, to be truly taken as a serious piece of cinema history.
Original German soundtrack
Optional English audio track, approved by Fritz Lang
Optional English subtitles
Feature-length audio commentary by film-scholar and Lang expert David Kalat
2002 interview with Wolfgang Preiss
Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned and original poster artwork
PLUS: a collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by Philip Kemp; vintage reprints of writing by Lang; an essay by David Cairns; notes by Lotte Eisner on Lang’s final, unrealised projects
The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse is released on Blu-ray by Eureka, £19.99