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Fritz Lang’s M is the jewel of Peter Lorre’s oeuvre, a hauntingly expressive performance as murderer and pedophile Hans Beckert. The character is a loose depiction of German serial killer Peter Kurtin, better known as “the Vampire of Düsseldorf” due to his penchant for drinking the blood of his victims. While Beckert never guzzles any O positive during the film, the panic and confusion his crimes engendered is mirrored by Lang’s unsettling glimpse into mob mentality. The film would eventually be accused of anti-fascist sentiment by the Nazis, who banned it, then turned it into anti-Jewish propaganda, but Lorre’s portrayal remains chilling for other reasons.
THE FILM SHOWS AT 6:30 p.m. AT THE GOETHE-INSTITUT, 812 7th St. NW. $6. (202) 289-1200.