Choice: Film

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Peter Lorre's goggle-eyed, unctuous performances made Uriah Heep look footloose and fancy-free. Whether sloping around in The Maltese Falcon or slopping about as the crazed drunken Doctor Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace, Lorre's superbly sinister presence and weirdly resonant nasal drone made him the cinema-going public's enemy number one. It was a role he perfected in his second screen outing, in Fritz Lang's first sound movie, the expressionist horror-film M. Lorre plays Beckert, a curiously sympathetic child murderer driven by an unexplained urge to kill. Lang scrupulously avoids cheap sensationalism by using strikingly allusive imagery - a bouncing ball rolling down a street, an abandoned balloon trapped in overhead wires - to symbolise death. The BFI's stunning new print has a quite brilliantly restored soundtrack. Now more than ever, it's astonishing stuff.

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