This is the second sequel to the original sensational crime thriller silent of 1922. Like the original, it was produced by Fritz Lang, after he returned to Germany after a wartime stint in Hollywood. At least five more were made, and a couple spin-offs.
The first three (if not all) the Mabuse films are “revelation of the method,” i.e. they are crime stories in which the super criminal, Dr. Mabuse, is successful by playing with people’s heads. And the way he plays with people’s heads is laid right out there.
The name “Mabuse” (pronounced: mah boo’ sah) is generally unknown in America, but in Germany evidently has the same kind of recognition as “Frankenstein” here, evoking both a character and a concept.
This one is done more after the fashion of a Ray Chandler mystery, with lots of false leads and confusion created: who is the victim, who the perp? who naive, who self-conscious? is the voyeur admirable or not? is an act heroic if it was manipulated from start to finish? is the supernatural involved, or just mind games and exploitation of people’s weaknesses?
It can be enjoyed as pure entertainment, or as food for thought.