A baby-faced pedophile named Hans Beckert (Lorre) is hunted by police and the underworld alike in the wake of the latest murder of a little girl. Unable to control his sick compulsions, Hans feels like a desperate, hunted animal, with the walls closing in around him. The only question is: who will find him first, the authorities or the crooks?
Fritz Lang's first sound film is a masterpiece of dread and suspense. Hans appears almost like the children he victimizes, soft and weak, and his fear of exposure almost makes us pity him. You can't conceive of anyone but Lorre pulling off this tricky characterization. Lang creates a Berlin whose layout seems designed to expose the molester: a city of shadows, blind alleys, and a million unseen, unsparing eyes. Nearly 85 years after its release, this film still retains its shock value. Along with "Metropolis," this is an early pinnacle for director Lang.