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.


Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Erfinder C.A. Rotwang, The Inventor, in Metropolis. Fritz Lang’s masterpiece set in the distant future of 2026. Klein-Rogge is perfectly cast as the white haired mad man genius. Brigitte Helm (in the Maria and machine woman duel role) is excellent – but Gustav Fröhlich (in the Freder Fredersen role) is sliced and diced by the far more talented Rudolf Klein-Rogge. Klein-Rogge browbeats poor Fröhlich. 


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.


that glare and those distinct features – Rudolf Klein-Rogge as Dr. Mabuse in Fritz Lang’s highly influential crime saga. Klein-Rogge’s face is a vehicle of expression with those intense eyes and expressive eyebrows. Had the opportunity presented itself, Klein-Rogge would have made a great Dr. Caligari as well in place of Werner Krauss.



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 plays Rudolf 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.


from Spies (1928) – heavy bags around the eyes and that piercing stare


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:

  1. Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler
  2. The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
  3. Metropolis
  4. Spies
  5. Die Nibelungen


archiveable films

1920- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
1921- Destiny
1922- Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler
1924- Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild’s Revenge
1924- Die Nibelungen: Siegfried
1927- Metropolis
1928- Spies
1933- The Testament of Dr. Mabuse