The character was made famous by three films about the character directed in Germany by Fritz Lang: Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (silent, 1922) The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1933) and the much later The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (1960). Five other films featuring Dr. Mabuse were made by other directors in Germany in the early 1960s, followed by Jess Franco's interpretation The Vengeance of Dr. Mabuse in 1971.
Although the character was deliberately written to mimic villains such as Dr. Fu Manchu, Guy Boothby's Doctor Nikola, Fantômas, or Svengali, the last of which was a direct inspiration, Jacques' goals were commercial success and to make political comments, in much the same way that the film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) had done just a few years previously.
Dr. Mabuse is a master of disguise and telepathic hypnosis known to employ body transference, most often through demonic possession, but sometimes utilizing object technologies such as television or phonograph machines, to build a "society of crime". Mabuse rarely commits his crimes in person, instead operating primarily through a network of agents enacting his schemes. Mabuse's agents range from career criminals working for him, to innocents blackmailed or hypnotized into cooperation, to dupes manipulated so successfully that they do not realize that they are doing exactly what Mabuse planned for them to do.
Mabuse's identity often changes; one "Dr. Mabuse" may be defeated and sent to an asylum, jail or the grave, only for a new "Dr. Mabuse" to later appear, as depicted in The Testament of Dr. Mabuse. The replacement invariably has the same methods, the same powers of hypnosis and the same criminal genius. There are even suggestions in some installments of the series that the "real" Mabuse is some sort of spirit that possesses a series of hosts.
Mabuse has had a number of nemeses, with the main ones including Prosecutor (or Chief Inspector) von Wenk in Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (played by Bernhard Goetzke) and Kommissar Karl Lohmann (played variously by Otto Wernicke and Gert Fröbe as "Inspector Carl Lohemann").
Mabuse first appeared in the 1921 German novel Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler ("Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler") by Norbert Jacques. The novel benefitted from unprecedented publicity and quickly became a best-seller. Fritz Lang, already an accomplished director, worked with his wife Thea von Harbou on a revision of the novel to bring it to the screen, where it also became a great success. The film Dr. Mabuse the Gambler (1922), with a playing time of more than four hours, was released in two sections: The Great Gambler: An Image of the Time and Inferno: A Game for the People of our Age.
Despite the success of the novel and the film, it was almost a decade before anything more was done with the character. Jacques had been working on a sequel to the novel, named Mabuse's Colony, in which Mabuse has died and a group of his devotees are starting an island colony, based on the principles described by Mabuse's manifesto. However, the novel was unfinished. After conversations with Lang and von Harbou, Jacques agreed to discontinue the novel and the sequel instead became the 1933 movie The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, in which the Mabuse of 1922 – played again by Rudolf Klein-Rogge – is an inmate in an insane asylum but has for some time been obsessively writing meticulous plans for crime and terrorism, plans that are being performed by a gang of criminals outside the asylum, who receive their orders from a person who has identified himself to them only as Dr. Mabuse.
|English title||Original title||Release date||Dr. Mabuse played by:||Ref(s)|
|Dr. Mabuse the Gambler: Part I — The Great Gambler: A Picture of the Times||Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler I: Der große Spieler. Ein Bild der Zeit||27 April 1922||Rudolf Klein-Rogge|||
|Dr. Mabuse the Gambler: Part II — Inferno: The Game of the People of our Time||Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler II: Inferno. Ein Spiel von Menschen unserer Zeit||26 May 1922||Rudolf Klein-Rogge|||
|The Testament of Dr. Mabuse||Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse||April 1933||Rudolf Klein-Rogge|||
|The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse||Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse||September 14, 1960||Wolfgang Preis|||
|The Return of Doctor Mabuse||Im Stahlnetz des Dr. Mabuse||October 13, 1961||Wolfgang Preiss|||
|The Invisible Dr. Mabuse||Die unsichtbaren Krallen des Dr. Mabuse||March 30, 1962||Wolfgang Preiss|||
|The Testament of Dr. Mabuse||Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (remake)||September 7, 1962||Wolfgang Preiss|||
|Scotland Yard Hunts Dr. Mabuse (aka Dr. Mabuse vs. Scotland Yard)||Scotland Yard jagt Dr. Mabuse||September 20, 1963||Wolfgang Preiss|||
|The Secret of Dr. Mabuse (aka The Death Ray of Dr. Mabuse)||Die Todesstrahlen des Dr. Mabuse||September 18, 1964||Wolfgang Preiss (archive footage)/Claudio Gora|||
|The Vengeance of Dr. Mabuse (aka La Venganza del Doctor Mabuse)||Dr. M schlägt zu||1971/72||Jack Taylor||[circular reference]|
|The Image of Dorian Gray in the Yellow Press (aka Dorian Gray in the Mirror of the Yellow Press)||Dorian Gray im Spiegel der Boulevardpresse||1984||Delphine Seyrig|
|Dr. M||Docteur M||1990||Alan Bates|||
|Doctor Mabuse||2013||Jerry Lacy|||
|Doctor Mabuse: Etiopomar||2014||Jerry Lacy|||
|The Thousand and One Lives of Doctor Mabuse||2020||Jerry Lacy|||
- Dr. Mabuse, Master of Mystery (Original title: Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler. 1921) – English translation by Lilian A. Clare published in 1923.
- Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse – Written in the early 1930s, but not published until 1950 under the title Dr. Mabuses letztes Spiel. In the late 1980s, it was reprinted under its original title Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse.
- Mabuses Kolonie – Unfinished novel that was written in 1930 and published in 1994.
- Mabuse also appears in Jacques's 1923 sci-fi novel Ingenieur Mars.
- Jacques wrote a novel called Der Chemiker des Dr. Mabuse, but he ultimately removed all references to Mabuse from it and serialized it in 1934 under the title Chemiker Null.
- "Dr. Mabuse auf dem Presseball" (1923)
- "Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler I: Der große Spieler. Ein Bild der Zeit". Filmportal.de. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
- "Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse". Filmportal.de. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
- "Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse". Filmportal.de. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
- "Im Stahlnetz des Dr. Mabuse | filmportal.de". www.filmportal.de.
- "Die unsichtbaren Krallen des Dr. Mabuse". Filmportal.de. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
- "Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse". Filmportal.de. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
- "Scotland Yard jagt Dr. Mabuse". Filmportal.de. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
- "Die Todesstrahlen des Dr. Mabuse". Filmportal.de. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
- "Dr. M schlägt zu". Filmportal.de. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
- "La venganza del doctor Mabuse". it.wikipedia.org. Retrieved July 23, 2019.
- "Dr". Filmportal.de. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
- "Doctor Mabuse (2013)". Hollinsworth Productions. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
- "Doctor Mabuse: Etiopomar (2014)". Hollinsworth Productions. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
- "The Thousand and One Lives of Doctor Mabuse (2020)". IMDB.com. Retrieved July 18, 2020.
- "THE THOUSAND AND ONE LIVES OF DOCTOR MABUSE (2020) - Short Film" – via www.youtube.com.
- Kalat 2001, p. 19.
- Kalat 2001, p. 17.
- Kalat 2001, p. 18.
- Kalat, David (2001). The Strange Case of Dr. Mabuse: A Study of the Twelve Movies and Five Novels. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. ISBN 0786423374.
- Haase, Holger: The Many Masks of Dr. Mabuse: Mabuse in the 1960s. (Kindle 2020)
- Media related to Dr. Mabuse at Wikimedia Commons