Archive for The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse

A Lorre End

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , on December 3, 2014 by dcairns

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We’ve been limericking about Peter Lorre over at Limerwrecks: for the full assortment, go here. The relevant one today is here, celebrating Peter’s last role, opposite Jerry Lewis in THE PATSY.

Horror host Hilary Barta adds to the confusion today with a five-line stroll through Fritz Lang’s final MABUSE flick, here. It’s a movie I previously mused about here.

There.

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Peter the Plywood Primate

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on March 26, 2013 by dcairns

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The following essay was a freebie thrown in to accompany Masters of Cinema’s awesome DVD box set of Fritz Lang’s MABUSE films. For space reasons it couldn’t be included on the new Blu-ray edition, which I nevertheless recommend wholeheartedly to you (link below) so I’m offering it up here. Lang’s career has one of the most pleasing arcs of any in film history — he himself may have objected to another Mabuse sequel on the grounds that “The bastard is dead,” but he thought it over and perhaps realized that MABUSE CAN NEVER DIE ~

EVERYBODY’S GOT SOMETHING TO HIDE EXCEPT FOR ME AND MY MONKEY

About forty minutes into Fritz Lang’s The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse, a waiter enters the Hotel Luxor ballroom carrying a toy chimpanzee, and presents it to a delighted guest. It’s a throwaway moment of surrealism, suggesting that Luis Bunuel’s admiration of Lang was not un-reciprocated (although Lang’s encroaching blindness and Bunuel’s deafness had hampered attempts to introduce them at parties, Lang did eventually sign an autograph for his fan).

The chimpanzee’s name is Peter, and he is Lang’s longtime companion. Some have speculated that Peter (perhaps named after the actor Lang made into a star, Peter Lorre) was a kind of son to the childless director, and certainly Lang posed for many family portraits with his little friend. These lovingly posed snaps are Lang’s final works as film-maker. Peter’s walk-on (or carry-on) appearance here marks an early clue to the new direction.

Das Testament Des Dr Mabuse [Masters of Cinema] (Dual Format Edition) [Blu-ray] [1933]

Kampf Klassic

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2009 by dcairns

KAMPF UM ROM is a rather sad spectacle in some ways, being the penultimate completed film(s) — it’s a two-parter like DIE NIBELUNGEN — of Robert Siodmak. It’s produced by Artur Brauner, who had invited Fritz Lang back to Germany to remake THE INDIAN TOMB and resurrect the shade of Mabuse in THE THOUSAND EYES OF DR MABUSE, before embarking on a series of enjoyably cheesy Mabuse remakes and sequels without Lang, and making a lurid remake of DIE NIBELUNGEN with director Harald Reinl. Semi-retired and in uncertain health, the great Siodmak was somehow induced to lend his name and talents to a giant Euro-pudding epic about the fall of Rome, filled to bursting with difficult multinational stars: Orson Welles, Laurence Harvey, uh, Michael Dunn…

And Honor Blackman. I take some indecent glee in being the first human to post nude photographs of Pussy Galore on the internet. But I hasten to add that from all I know of HB, she’s not going to be ashamed — she’s going to think, “Damn, I look pretty good!” Some actor friends of mine have worked with Miss Blackman fairly recently, and reported that she’s still got it (and that’s IT, in the Clara Bow sense).

What this movie really needs is Maria Montez, but Honor does the honours as best she can. I can’t judge the film too clearly on the basis of a pan-and-scan copy in German without subtitles (and yet the trailer is in widescreen — damn you, UFA Home Video!) but it’s fun to see how Welles’s “ironic pauses” still work when dubbed into another tongue by another actor, and the sets and costume design are fabulously absurd. I might try and write an overview of the different crowns Welles wore in his career as a “king player” — the thorny square he dons in MACBETH is a ludicrous high-point, but the giant’s arm-band squeezed around his skull in our topmost image is also to be cherished.

Shooting appears to have been a painful slog for the ailing director, and when an interviewer visiting the set asked him that standard journalistic question, “What made you accept this project?” the Great Man replied, “That’s a question I ask myself every morning.”