best film: Rudolf Klein-Rogge is standout presence in nearly all of Fritz Lang films from 1921’s Destiny to 1933’s The Testament of Dr. Mabuse. 1931’s M is the big one that got away and does not have even a minor role for Klein-Rogge (and as good as Klein-Rogge is, nobody but Peter Lorre should play Hans Beckert). This is very fertile artistic period for Lang so this category is loaded – including supreme artistic achievements like the aforementioned Destiny (a smaller role for Klein-Rogge), Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, Die Nibelungen, Metropolis, and Spies. As if this was not enough, Klein-Rogge has a small part 1920’s landmark of German Expressionism – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (though again, perhaps there is not enough meat on the bone for Klein-Rogge in the film to quality in this category). Metropolis is a horse of a different color as far as how fundamental Klein-Rogge is to the greater whole of the film. In Lang’s dystopian science fiction epic, Klein-Rogge steals every scene he is in.
best performance: There are really four (4) standouts here: the two Mabuse films (Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler and then The Testament of Dr. Mabuse just over a decade later), Metropolis, and Spies. Rudolf Klein-Rogge gets to levitate – chewing up the scenery to glorious pitch perfect effect in a top 100 of all-time (Metropolis) and then be the more steady, consistent driving force in other three (3) films.
stylistic innovations/traits: Rudolf Klein-Rogge was a German actor born in 1885. He had a penchant for playing mastermind villains – often the heavy or evil force of great intelligence. The heavy makeup and shapeshifting ability put him more in the Lon Chaney or Paul Muni camp – and his prolific sort of typecasting (a strange sort of typecasting – because there is a decent amount of range within both these individual roles and characters) as the antagonist is similar to Erich von Stroheim. Rudolf Klein-Rogge playsRudolf Klein-Rogge was Fritz Lang’s man – not totally dissimilar to contemporary German Expressionism actor Emil Jannings working with F.W. Murnau (one can picture Rudolf Klein-Rogge in the Mephisto Faust role, or, as a matter of fact, taking a stab at Max Schreck’s Count Orlok Nosferatu role). Rudolf Klein-Rogge was once married to Thea von Harbou. Thea von Harbou eventually would marry Fritz Lang – and was Lang’s writing collaborator on many of his best works (Destiny, Die Nibelungen, Metropolis, M). Rudolf Klein-Rogge’s filmography is a little slight compared to other actors who will surely miss out on this list – but out of all of his archiveable films, only one (The Testament of Dr. Mabuse) could be rated low enough to miss the top 1000 films of all-time list.
directors worked with: Fritz Lang (6) or it could be seven (7) depending on how you categorize Die Nibelungen as one (1) film or two (2).
top five performances:
- Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler
- The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
- Die Nibelungen
|1920- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
|1922- Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler
|1924- Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild’s Revenge
|1924- Die Nibelungen: Siegfried
|1933- The Testament of Dr. Mabuse