A decade after the success of Dr. Mabuse, Der Spieler
, Fritz Lang decided to revisit the character in the sound era, with a plot appropriately based on the eeriness of recorded sound.
In the film, it is ten years or so since the criminal empire of Diabolical Mastermind
Dr. Mabuse was crushed by the authorities, and the evil doctor, driven insane by his fall, confined to a mental hospital. Suddenly, the catatonic Mabuse has reawakened and begun to obsessively scribble notes on hypothetical crimes. Which would only be of academic interest, if it weren't for the new criminal gang that seems to be putting those plans into practice.
(It should be noted that this film has a major case of It Was His Sled
. To avoid the trope examples below being a block of spoiler code, the famous twist in question has not been whited out. If you really want to see the film unspoiled, don't read any further.)
This film provides examples of the following tropes:
- Action Prologue
- Answer Cut: Several times.
- Bedlam House: Unexpectedly averted. The place isn't exactly cosy, but even though the head psychiatrist is batshit crazy, the patients don't seem to be being ill-treated and most of the staff seem decent.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Kent and Lilli being given three hours to anticipate their deaths.
- Canon Welding: This film pits Dr. Mabuse against Komissar Lohmann from M.
- The Chessmaster: Mabuse
- Cigar Chomper: Lohmann
- Devil in Plain Sight: Baum is publicly vocal about his admiration for Mabuse even before he starts going seriously round the bend.
- Diabolical Mastermind: Guess who?
- Driven to Madness: Hofmeister. Also Baum.
- Driven to Suicide: A number are reported to have happened off-screen.
- Drowning Pit: Kent risks deliberately turning the room he and Lilli are imprisoned in into this, in the hope that the water will absorb the force of the explosion.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Kent.
- Exposition Victim: Dr. Kramm.
- Fat and Skinny: Hardy and Bredow
- For the Evulz: Mabuse's motivations in this film are purely to create chaos and a Hobbesian-nightmare "Empire of Crime". Lampshaded in scenes where some of his minions discuss their bemusement at why they're being paid to commit crimes that don't actually seem to make any money.
- Grand Theft Me: One possible interpretation of the film is that Mabuse succeeds in doing this on Baum with his psychic powers.
- Hypnotic Eyes: Mabuse still has them.
- Inferred Holocaust: Lohmann completely fails to stop Baum from setting fire to the chemical works, which according to Mabuse's notes would kill huge numbers of people in the surrounding area with toxic fumes.
- Lecture As Exposition: Baum's lecture on Mabuse, which gives a condensed run-down of the plot of the first film, and sets up his undue admiration of his patient.
- Legacy Character: Baum-Mabuse.
- Love Redeems: Kent.
- Manipulative Bastard: Mabuse, again.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Whether Baum was simply mad, or whether Mabuse actually did manage to do a Grand Theft Me on him by some mystical means.
- Might As Well Not Be In Prison At All: The central mystery is how Mabuse is achieving this.
- Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: All of Mabuse's leading minions get killed or arrested because one of them stupidly gave his moll a stolen piece of jewellery to wear in public.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Mabuse and Baum.
- My Brain Is Big: Baum's visions of the dead Mabuse show him like this with a huge exposed brain. (According to Word Of God, this was intended to be Baum seeing Mabuse as he last saw him, while he was dissecting Mabuse's brain on the autopsy table.)
- Napoleon Delusion: Baum fully believes by the end that he is Dr. Mabuse.
- No One Sees the Boss: The gang's "boss" is seen only as a silhouette behind a curtain, which turns out to be a cardboard cut out with a microphone and loudspeaker.
- Nothing Is Scarier: We never find out exactly what Hardy and Bredow did to Hofmeister to drive him mad.
- Posthumous Character: Mabuse, for the second half of the film.
- Psycho Psychologist: Mabuse's past as a psychanalyst is referred to, and his psychiatrist Baum initially starts committing crimes in admiration for him and finally becomes deludedly convinced that he is Mabuse.
- Real Time: Not within the film, but dialogue establishes that both this and the first film are set at the time of their release, with a ten-year-ish gap in between in canon.
- Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: For Kent and Lilli, with a time-bomb included.
- Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Komissar Lohmann.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Hardy and Bredow are an early example, although they aren't as chatty as later examples would become.
- Villain-Based Franchise: The first of the sequels in what would become an irregular but long-running example.
- Villainous Breakdown: Baum is essentially having one throughout the film.
- Villain Protagonist
- The Voice: The "chief". Almost a pre-internet example of Voice with an Internet Connection.