The "M" stands for "murderer" in either language, and the film is loosely based on the actual case of a Düsseldorf child killer named Peter Kurten. (His name was later borrowed for Copycat.) The plot of M echoes the fascination with shadowy syndicates and underworld figures that Lang exhibited in earlier films such as the Dr. Mabuse pieces and Spies: When a police dragnet for the child murderer upsets normal criminal activities, the criminals themselves organize and track the suspect down, labeling him, without his being aware of it, with a chalk "M" on the back of his coat.
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Testament was the last film Lang made before the expanding Nazi regime forced him to flee Germany, bringing to a close the most creatively productive phase of his career. Lang's escape to America, and Nazi censors' decision to ban the film as a "threat to law and order and public safety," make it a milestone of art at odds with the ideology of the regime.
Continue reading: The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse Review