The visionary director Fritz Lang is perhaps most well-known today for his prescient film Metropolis(1927). But M is also acknowledged as an early influencer in the film noir genre.
In this psychological thriller noir, child-killer Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) stalks the streets of Berlin. But most of the film is rather focused on the way society deals with this serial killer crisis – the viewer knows from the start who the murderer is, but we watch helplessly as the story unfolds.
In a review of M, Roger Ebert drew attention to the ‘hatred’ one can see Lang expressing toward Germany at this time, when the Nazi party was gaining power. Lang’s next film more explicitly criticized Nazism, although Joseph Goebbels was a fan nonetheless, and allegedly offered Lang a job in the film industry. Lang and Lorre both came from Jewish backgrounds, and both later fled the country. Their careers flourished in the US, and Peter Lorre went on to star in another classic film noir The Maltese Falcon (1941).