The Testament of Dr. Mabuse ★★★★

A series of stunning thriller setpieces rife with mystery and menace, pretty much exactly the same movie as Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler not to mention Spies, but a little more cunning and oppressive in its fetishizing of grisly doom and actual terror. The story is easier to follow than in Spies but finally makes even less rational sense, and by the end it's a bit hard to understand the exact nature of the events we've just spent two hours witnessing; but that doesn't make this any less of an absorbing delight, with one phenomenal nail-biting chase, trap or eye-popping special effect after another -- even the traditional grizzled police inspector character is fun. Lang establishes an anything-goes environment of cutthroat organized crime so well it's kind of disappointing when he lets so many of his innocents and semi-innocents escape unharmed. Despite its feeling of urgency and danger, this is one of the most fun movies of the '30s, even if it's Lang having fun more than Lang really posing a challenge, with multiple masterful scenes probably better individually than in the sum of their parts. Of course this is looking over the allegorical aspects that had a hand in getting this banned from its home country, but to be frank these are much less powerful, for me at least, than they were in its less coded predecessor.

During that scene when we see you-know-what, Amber looked up and said "that's so much scarier than Voldemort or whatever." The de-evolution of SFX strikes again.

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