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Sunday, September 07, 2008

I recently finished reading a book entitled THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. MABUSE by David Kalat.  I picked up the book since I've seen a few of the Mabuse films, enoyed them and wanted to know more.  I understood that the history of the film series (which began in the 1920s) was quite complicated and looked  forward to a text which could straighten it all out for me.  Boy did I get that in spades. 

The book was not only authoritative, but shockingly well researched.  It thoroughly covered all aspects of the Mabuse legacy and also corrected many myths which have been taken as fact by film historians.  The accuracy of the information was not by chance.  In the introduction, the author mentions that he wrote an article of the same title for "Midnight Marquee," and was called on numerous factual errors (that he made unknowingly).  Subsequently, he went straight to German resources in an attempt to straighten it all out.  He has most certainly suceeded as there's no possible question one could have left about Dr. Mabuse after reading this book. 

The book is aptly titled as Dr. Mabuse has had such a strange mix of directors making movies about him; filmmakers who run the gamut of artistic credibility - from celebrated directors such as Fritz Lang and Claude Chabrol to Eurotrash shlockmeisters like Jess Franco to uber-arty, experimental types like Ulrike Ottinger.  The author not only goes into each and every film related to Mabuse, but also provides chapters on these fascinating individuals. 

There were plenty of sections where I knew preciously little, but when I came to parts where I did have previously knowledge about the people and films involved, the information was always in accord with what I knew to be correct.   The author covers the golden age of German Cinema, the rise of postwar Euro trash films as well as the birth of the French New Wave with equal aplomb. 

The text itself is also a joy to read.  Perhaps my favorite line is "European B-movie makers understood that the easiest way to promote a low-budget picture is to confuse the audience into expecting something better."  No confusion needed here to recommend this book. 

Posted at 07:16 am by jmachinder

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