M

( 15 )

Overview

Fritz Lang's classic early talkie crime melodrama is set in 1931 Berlin. The police are anxious to capture an elusive child murderer Peter Lorre, and they begin rounding up every criminal in town. The underworld leaders decide to take the heat off their activities by catching the child killer themselves. Once the killer is fingered, he is marked with the letter "M" chalked on his back. He is tracked down and captured by the combined forces of the Berlin criminal community, who put him on trial for his life in a ...
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Overview

Fritz Lang's classic early talkie crime melodrama is set in 1931 Berlin. The police are anxious to capture an elusive child murderer Peter Lorre, and they begin rounding up every criminal in town. The underworld leaders decide to take the heat off their activities by catching the child killer themselves. Once the killer is fingered, he is marked with the letter "M" chalked on his back. He is tracked down and captured by the combined forces of the Berlin criminal community, who put him on trial for his life in a kangaroo court. The killer pleads for mercy, whining that he can't control his homicidal instincts. The police close in and rescue the killer from the underworld so that he can stand trial again in "respectable" circumstances. Some prints of the film end with a caution to the audience to watch after their children more carefully. Filmed in Germany, M was the film that solidified Fritz Lang's reputation with American audiences, and it also made a star out of Peter Lorre previously a specialist in comedy roles!. M was remade by Hollywood in 1951, with David Wayne giving a serviceable performance as the killer.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
One of the most distinguished and technically accomplished early sound films, Fritz Lang's M (1931) revealed the expressive possibilities for combining sound and visuals, in a metaphorically loaded story about pre-Nazi Germany. Working from the true story of the Dusseldorf child murders, Lang matches a mother's anguished calls for her daughter with images of an empty stairwell and a lost balloon rather than show the killing, while the murderer's obsessive whistling becomes the calling card for his threatening presence. Beyond the use of sound, Lang takes a pessimistic view of German society, using editing to equate the police with the criminals, while Fritz Arno Wagner's fluid cinematography creates a gloomy night world of shadows and paranoid entrapment. Lang's documentary-like attention to the details of the search, combined with the absence of non-diegetic music, matches the stylization with an equally creepy element of realism. The killer may be sick, but the society pursuing him isn't that much better. A worldwide success and a star-maker for Peter Lorre, M influenced movies from those of Orson Welles to the American film noir of the 1940s; Lang himself left Nazi Germany for Hollywood in 1933. The 111-minute version features an added courtroom ending. The movie was remade by Joseph Losey in 1951 as an allegory of Cold War-era Communist "witch hunts."
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/13/2000
  • UPC: 037429105931
  • Original Release: 1931
  • Source: Homevision
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Peter Lorre Franz Becker
Ellen Widmann Madam Becker
Inge Landgut Elsie
Gustaf Gründgens Schraenker
Friedrich Gnass Burglar
Fritz Odemar The Cheater, Dynamiter
Paul Kemp Pickpocket
Theo Lingen Bauernfaenger
Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur Chief of Police
Franz Stein Minister
Otto Wernicke Inspector Karl Lohmann
Theodor Loos Police Commissioner Groeber
Rudolf Blumner Barrister
Georg John Blind Beggar
Karl Platen Nightwatch
Gerhard Bienert Secretary
Rose Valetti Landlady
Hertha Von Walther Prostitute
Heinrich Gotho
Lotte Loebinger Isenta
Klaus Pohl
Paul Rehkopf
Hugo Döblin
Ilse Furstenberg
Heinrich Gretler
Gunther Hadank
Gunther Neumann
Leonard Steckel Karchow
Otto Waldis
Rolf Wanka
Technical Credits
Fritz Lang Director, Screenwriter
Paul Falkenberg Editor, Screenwriter
Edvard Grieg Score Composer
Thea von Harbou Screenwriter
Emile Hasler Production Designer
Adolf Jansen Screenwriter
Seymour Nebenzal Producer
Karl Vollbrecht Production Designer
Fritz Arno Wagner Cinematographer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 15 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    A Haunting Masterpiece to remember

    M, directed by Fritz Lang and starring Peter Lorre is one of the seminal films in the development of the arts in the time before World War II in Germany. The Edvard Grieg music will stay in your mind long after viewing M. It is an incredible example of German Expressionist filmmaking that ever after 80+ years is still amazining moving. -- It is a must for any film student or for anyone who just enjoys film as art.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    M

    Fritz Lang, a well established film director in the silent age of cinema, does not disappoint in his first "talky" film... While his visuals remained just as astonishing as in his silent films, the sound was practically a character itself. The sounds were not just a background piece to this film, but used brilliantly to establish themes and drop subtle (and not-so-subtle) hints to the viewer.

    "M" is a morally ambiguous film that deals with very difficult subject matter - one that is arguably still taboo today. It is a deep examination into the mind of a serial killer and also into the minds of a town throw into a frenzy...

    Peter Lorre certainly steals the show, but fantastic performances are not hard to come by in this movie... as displayed by the masterful Gustaf Gründgens.

    Just check it out... Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

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