Cinephiles may be surprised by this: they made English-language titles for Fritz Lang's classic thriller? No: this is an American remake.
Not a good idea.
At first it seems to try to be Langy, with shots that indicate someone knew how to compose an interesting shot. Here's the mother running down the stairs, calling for her child:
But there's not much of that. The movie lacks the dank, ripe dread of the German version. The child-killer is played by David Wayne, who seems more pathetic than horrific. Your skin doesn't crawl when he sidles up to the children. As for his motivations, well, the set director helped: here's a picture of his mother! That explains it all, doesn't it?
It's updated for modern media; instead of the police giving news conferences, they televise warning to parents. Among the signs of a vanished age: parents are told not to send their kids to the store alone after dark.
Who's on the case, determined to get to the bottom of it all? The meanest pol in town, Big Jim Backus. He does a pretty fair Perry Mason here:
As with the original, the underworld goes after the killer, because he's bad for business. This leads to a chase through Bob's Symbolic Manniken Warehouse:
. . . and the "trial" in the bowels of a parking ramp, where the underworld takes out their vengeance. He gives a speech that's remarkable for its rambling, uninteresting, messy writing.
This is the scene where Lloyd has to utter the most dishonest line in cinema - I can't help myself! Sure, that's why you killed all the kids in front of cops, and in the middle of the street, at noon.
She ain't buying it:
Lorre's version was chilling - mad, screechy, insane, but insane with the knowledge of what he'd done. This is long, but if you're interested, it's early Lorre at his finest.