M

M

DVD - 2004 | German | Special ed.
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When a serial killer is stalking the children of the city, everyone, including the criminal underworld, wants to see him brought down. The story is based on the Düsseldorf child murders of 1929.

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DUVIDL
Jun 29, 2018

One of my favorite films. Haunting. However, despite what Lang claimed later, he actually gives equal time and value to both sides of the argument, tipping the scale neither way. Oh, by the way. Hans Beckett`s/Franz Becker`s justifiable famous plea for understanding ("I CAN`T HELP MYSELF! I HATE WHAT I DO!")...is a lie. Oh, no doubt, in the context of the film, Becker believes every word he`s saying...at that moment. But look to the middle of the film, the telephone conversation between the Mayor, demanding results NOW, and the Chief Of Police, explaining how they cannot stop the press from publishing the letters of the unknown 'kindermorder'. As the Chief Of Police makes the statement "This is a man who gets a kick out of seeing his name in the papers!", we see Becker doing just that : excitedly whistling as he writes his triumphant letter to the press and then, standing before his bureau mirror, dreamily pulling 'monster faces', erotically enjoying his power to terrorize a whole city all alone. We see no morose or 'self-loathing' until he faces the kangaroo court. Which well may be the brilliance of Lorre and Lang: to make us pity this childish monster while debating who is right. Oh, by the way..this film is NOT based on Peter Kurten, the Monster(s) of Dusseldorf. It was made BEFORE Kurten was caught, while everyone still believed there were FIVE maniacs running loose (the Hammer Fiend who clubbed his victims with a ball-peen hammer, then walked away whether they lay still or got up and fled), the Pyromaniac, the Bestalist, who stabbed animals to death while raping them, the Stilettoist, who stabbed people to death with what turned out to be sharpened barber scissors, and the Child Murderer (actually an appendage to the Stiletto crime spree.) Whoow! Makes Jack the Ripper look like Little Goody Two-shoes, don`t it!

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TEENREVIEWBOARD
Jun 26, 2018

Fritz Lang uses darkness and shadows to his advantage in a multitude of his movies, but most outstandingly in M. The film revolves around a city-wide manhunt for a child murderer in Germany. While initially thought to be a simple whodunnit, the film unravels into complicated themes jabbing various parts of society from the overfed policeman to the underrecognized beggars. Lang was able to become one of the first utilizers of a leitmotif (short music phrase) translated from opera to film. The specific leitmotif used in M, In the Hall of the Mountain King, became widely associated with the film. Most notably, this film started the career of Peter Lorre who would later go on to accompany Humphrey Bogart in other classics such as Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon. To this day, M remains a mold for psychological thrillers and cannot be overlooked simply due to its cultural significance.
- @LordoftheBooks of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

m
Me_Tarzan
Nov 17, 2017

With 1931's "M" now being 86 years old - Believe me - I really did try to look beyond its flaws (etc.) and cut it some slack.

But, I have to be honest with my opinion here and say that (at 110 minutes) this German production about a paedophile serial-killer seriously cried out for some major editing. It really did.

Of course - It certainly didn't help matters much that (though actor Peter Lorre certainly did look the part of "M") his hammy, bug-eyed, scenery-chewing performance in his final scenes was so agonizingly over-the-top that it became downright laughable to watch, in the long run.

The one real plus about this b&w picture was the impressive clarity of the print. "M's" flawless restoration was truly remarkable.

Anyway - If you happen to be a true film-buff of vintage cinema, then Fritz Lang's "M" may appeal to you more than it did me.

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Nursebob
Nov 17, 2017

Originally banned by the Nazis, Fritz Lang’s darkly brooding tale of a murderous pedophile, part policier, part social critique, has lost none of its bite in the intervening years and Peter Lorre gives his greatest performance as Hans Beckert, a painfully withdrawn young man compelled to kill children by his “darker half”. Lang’s gorgeous B&W photography and severe camera angles lend a sense of hyperreality to the film’s Kafkaesque industrial landscapes and a few beautifully executed tracking shots, including one that actually goes between two floors, are highly innovative for the time. But the film’s true strength lies in the way it chronicles the effect of the murders on an entire society, from the mayor’s office right down to the common pickpocket---a form of mass paranoia erupts in vigilantism and hysterical accusations while the tortured Beckert himself, clueless and mentally ill, is used to illustrate the capricious nature of mob justice. Thoroughly modern themes for such an old film.

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arnjns29
Nov 01, 2017

A bit too didactic at times, which keeps it from a perfect 10/10. Really fantastic cinematography, especially for the era. Possibly Lang's masterpiece.

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SF_READER
May 17, 2017

listed in the 1001 Movies to See Before You Die

Fascinating early talkie. Quite creepy and historically ground-breaking for some of its cinematic techniques. A must-watch for film buffs. This is the movie that made Peter Lorre a superstar.

hania4987 Feb 18, 2014

Absolutely brilliant movie; you don't have to be a film student to appreciate it. It is worthwhile to listen to the commentary to glean historical and cinematic background. The movie is an interesting mix of realism and myth, with romanticized characters reminiscent of Runyon. The incredible images, characters, the comic touches, the use of sound and silence, the use of light and shadow are all handled masterfully. We are taught as little children not to accept candy from strangers --this movie shows you why while showing how a community reacts to these horrible local events. I will never hear that melody without thinking of this film.

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pronto1961
Jul 28, 2013

peter lorre is brilliant. his performance in this film was the reason mothers would grab their kids and run when they saw him walking down the street (much to his dismay). the film's plot was also based in part on the activities of the dusseldorf ripper, peter kurten, who terrorised the city for the better part of a decade before turning himself in to police. but unlike lorre's tortured character, kurten was unrepentant.

Library_Dragon Apr 26, 2013

One of my favorites. Incredibly slow-moving for today's audiences, but the slow build adds that much more to the film's impact. It's completely worth the time and patience. The film is made up of strings of beautifully composed shots, full of light and darkness---and also Peter Lorre, who's an amazing actor. Gorgeous film. Fritz Lang is amazing.

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SF_READER
May 17, 2017

SF_READER thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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