DER VERLORENE (1951)
aka The Lost One
Directed by Peter Lorre
Featuring Peter Lorre, Karl John, Helmuth Rudolph
Country: West Germany
What it is: Bleak drama
A doctor working as an immunologist for the Nazis is told that his fiancee has been leaking his secret work. He ends up strangling her and his murder is covered up. However, he has developed a homicidal instinct to kill women he's attracted to...
I found this movie on YouTube, but it was in German without English subtitles; fortunately, it turns out that the listing for the movie in THE MOTION PICTURE GUIDE gives a fairly elaborate description of the plot, so I was able to more or less follow the story. Despite the above plot description, this isn't a horror movie (though the serial killer aspect provides the movie's genre content), but rather a depressing drama about the German post-war experience, and despite the fact that it is a little reminiscent of M, it goes in a different direction entirely. It is the sole directorial effort of Peter Lorre, and he shows a good eye for interesting visuals. Lorre's performance is equally good; I really admired the way he would use his hands to express his mental state. The movie was not a hit in Germany, which at that point preferred escapist entertainment; if it had been a hit, I wonder if Lorre would have continued as a director. As it is, it's a bleak and unsettling drama, and the final image is unforgettable. This is recommended especially to Peter Lorre fans.