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January 05, 1988|TERRY ATKINSON | Terry Atkinson

"The Testament of Dr. Mabuse." Nelson/Embassy. $29.95. When Fritz Lang left his native Germany in 1933 after making this film, he claimed that this sequel to his silent "Dr. Mabuse the Gambler" was a subtle denunciation of the Hitler regime. The presence of a political message has never been very convincing though, and neither is the assertion by some critics that "Testament" ranks among Lang's greatest sound films. The plot, which has the Moriarty-like Mabuse imprisoned as a madman yet still managing to control his underworld empire, is far too silly, and the intercutting between its elements (including such stock Lang characters as the earthy, wily police inspector) too muddled. The Janus Films print also has old-style subtitles that turn illegible on white backgrounds. Still, this director's unique touches appear frequently enough in this rarely screened film for many buffs to applaud the release of this addition to Nelson's superb International Collection series. Information: (213) 285-6000. ** 1/2

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