Fritz Lang (director)
11 May 2020 (released)
11 May 2020
Criminal mastermind Dr. Mabuse is given ample opportunity to spread fear and mayhem once again in Fritz Lang’s THE THOUSAND EYES OF DR. MABUSE – the director’s third instalment after Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1922) and The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933).
This third vehicle from 1960 (original German title: DIE 1000 AUGEN DES DR. MABUSE) also marked the iconic director’s last outing into the world of movie making. Although a further six Mabuse thrillers appeared in the cinemas (the last one was directed by Jess Franco in 1970) they were merely spin-offs to cash in on Lang’s earlier Mabuse success.
It doesn’t take long before the first murder occurs, in fact barely a few minutes into the film and unfortunate TV-reporter Peter Barter meets an untimely end thanks to a machine gun-like weapon which fires deadly needles instead of bullets. Around the same time as the murder occurs, Inspector Kras (Gert ‘Goldfinger’ Fröbe) receives a phone call from blind clairvoyant Peter Cornelius (Wolfgang Preiss) who claims to ‘see’ crimes before they happen though is unable to see the killer’s face. Meanwhile at the Luxor Hotel, a seemingly wealthy and glamorous young woman called Marion Menil (a dubbed Dawn Addams) stands on the building’s ledge ready to jump. At the last moment she’s saved by equally wealthy American industrialist Henry Travers (Peter van Eyck) who has come to Germany for a business deal concerning nuclear technology. He persuades Marian to re-consider her suicidal leap as surely, life must have some nice things to offer. Although thankful for his intervention the woman continues to act strangely, nervous and frightened without revealing what’s bothering her. Not even Dr. Jordan, who always seems to creep up whenever she’s in need of help, is able to establish the source of Marion’s paranoia.
Inspector Kras’ investigations bring him to the Luxor Hotel and soon not only he but also Henry Travers find themselves confronted with a motley crew of characters, including insurance salesman Hieronymus B. Mistelzweig (Werner Peters) who never fails to point out that the B. stand for his huge belly! Soon is becomes evident that the hotel is bugged with a ‘thousand eyes’ – surveillance equipment from the Nazi-era – and shady hotel detective Berg (Andrea Checchi) offers Travers a deal: for some cash he will bring him to a room fitted with a wall that allows him to see and spy what’s going on in Marion’s adjoining room through the back of a wardrobe. Although initially repulsed by the idea he accepts Berg’s offer as he is smitten by Marian and fancies himself as her knight in shining armour. As he’s about to find out pretty much everyone with the exception of the Inspector lies to him as they all seem to harbour sinister motives. After several more meetings with the strange Cornelius the Inspector is none the wiser concerning the escalating crime wave and thus believes that criminal mastermind Dr. Mabuse – believed to be dead – must have returned from the grave…. During a séance which is suggested by Cornelius an attempt on Kras’ life is made. Just as romance between Travers and Marion finally seems to blossom she confesses to him that she’s… married! To a clubfooted, overtly jealous sadist by the name of Roberto Menil (Reinhard Koldehoff), hence her various unsuccessful attempts to run away and her recent attempt of suicide. Sure enough, when Menil turns up in his wife’s hotel room for another bout of beating her knight in shining armour crashes through the secret mirror wall in a desperate attempt to save her but is knocked unconscious. When he wakes up in a secret chamber he isn’t too happy when he hears Marion’s real confession… or is she lying to him again? As Kras and the police eventually close in on the shadowy villain a climactic chase involving all sorts of gadgets and a car with revolving number plates ensues.
With its themes of Cold War espionage, a megalomaniac villain, assassinations and surveillance technology harking back to the Nazi era, THE THOUSAND EYES OF DR. MABUSE brought Lang’s career full circle. Newly restored and on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK, the first print run (2000 copies) will be presented with a Limited Edition O-Card slipcase and Special Features including Alternate Ending, Interviews, Audio commentary, Reversible sleeve plus Collector’s book.
Big shame, however, about the white subtitles which are occasionally rather hard to decipher against the film’s b/w picture – especially light backgrounds.