Oct 4, 2009

Upcoming Spy DVDs: The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set

Jason Whiton at Spy Vibe reports that UK company Eureka Entertainment's Masters of Cinema Series (the same people who put out the Judex/Nuits rouges Georges Franjou costumed adventurer set last year) will release a box set on October 19 containing all of Fritz Lang's Dr. Mabuse films: The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set. Lang was long obsessed with spies, and spying was a recurring theme in his films throughout his entire career. The horrific figure of unstoppable criminal mastermind Dr. Mabuse also cast his shadow over Lang's entire career. The director fashioned a two-part, five-hour silent epic around the archvillain in 1922 called Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler. He revisited the character eleven years later in a talkie, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse. And finally he reinvented the character for the Cold War era one more time in his final film, 1960's The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse, an early entry in the Eurospy genre. The thousand eyes the title refers to are of course Mabuse's agents, who seem to be everywhere in Berlin and beyond, spying on everyone. No one is safe from Dr. Mabuse and his empire of fear. In the final film, spy mainstays Gert Frobe (Goldfinger), Peter Van Eyck (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold) and Dawn Addams (The Saint, Danger Man and pretty much all the rest of the ITC stable) stand against the evil doctor. While 1000 Eyes was Lang's final film, it was not Mabuse's. Other directors took on the character, and the series picked up even more steam throughout the spy-crazy Sixties. But Lang's Mabuse films are unsurprisingly the best, and this set provides a fascinating glimpse at Lang's whole career through his films about this one character. For more information on the character, head over to Permission to Kill where David Foster has written extensively about many of the Dr. Mabuse films.

Masters of Cinema has also packed this release with special features, including newly translated English-language subtitles for each film, newly recorded audio commentaries on all three movies by film scholar and Fritz Lang expert David Kalat, three featurettes totalling an hour-and-a-half in length on the score of Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, the creation of author Norbert Jacques' Mabuse character, and the motifs running throughout the works, a 2002 video interview with Wolfgang Preiss, the star of The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse, an alternate ending to The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse taken from the French print of the film, and an optional English-language dub track for The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse. On top of all that, there are also three lengthy booklets containing a new translation of Fritz Lang's 1924 lecture on "Sensation Culture," an essay by critic and scholar Michel Chion on the use of sound in The Testament of Dr. Mabuse; new writing on The 1000 Eyes Dr. Mabuse by critic David Cairns, extracts from period interviews with Fritz Lang, an abundance of production stills, illustrations, marketing materials and more. Whew! Sounds like the definitive release of these films.

The Complete Fritz Lang Mabuse Box Set is available for pre-order from Amazon.co.uk. Find more information on the Masters of Cinema website.

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