The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

Director: Fritz Lang
Year Released: 1933
Rating: 2.0

Crime magnate Dr. Mabuse leads his own evil syndicate from a hospital bed - or so we're led to believe - while the police assemble clues. I'm not sure what it is with some of Lang's films that I don't respond to - there are those that I find extraordinarily aloof, like this film (Scarlet Street and While the City Sleeps are another two) and those that are compelling, like Metropolis and Ministry of Fear (the latter, in part, because of Ray Milland's presence). For this particular work, the pieces appear to be in place for a decent noir, but the effect is diluted, and Lang appears to intentionally slow down the pacing to a crawl. Add to that problem the lack of any appealing characters - Lang's worlds are filled with genuinely unsavory mugs - or time allotted to fully develop the 'protagonists' (the police chief is just another hard-boiled thug with questionable ethics; the young couple that provides the picture's romantic aspect barely registers).