Article #95 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 6-19-2001
Posting date: 11-2-2001
A child murderer is loose in the city. As a result of their inability to catch the murderer, the police are taking out their frustration by making constant raids against the regular criminal elements of the city. The various crime guilds, feeling that they will only get the police off their backs when the murderer is caught, decide to catch him themselves.
This is far and away my favorite Fritz Lang film, only marginally horror but almost always included in any comprehensive list of horror movies. I’m always amazed by the skill used in making this film. The first ten minutes of the movie manages to capture the horror of the situation without showing a shred of violence; it’s done entirely through suggestion, images, and editing, and it’s blood-chilling. Peter Lorre gave a career-making performance as the murderer, and the rest of the cast is fine as well, especially Otto Wernicke as Inspector Karl “Fatty” Lohmann.
I’m truly impressed at how well Lang handled his first talkie; he uses sound masterfully in telling his story without ever letting the visual quality suffer in the least. I’m also surprised at how much humor is to be found in the movie when you consider the subject matter; in fact, one of my favorite comic moments of all time is in this film (specifically, Lohmann’s reaction when he discovers what the criminals were looking for in the office building). I also love the editing; the part where the movie cuts back and forth between two meetings, one with the police and the other with the criminals, is engrossing.
This movie is on my top ten list of any movies in any genre.