A psychotic child murderer stalks a city, and despite an exhaustive investigation fueled by public hysteria and outcry, the police have been unable to find him. But the police crackdown does have one side-affect, it makes it nearly impossible for the organized criminal underground to operate. So they decide that the only way to get the police off their backs is to catch the murderer themselves. Besides, he is giving them a bad name.
This film is often recognised as the best German movie of all time. This is also one of my personal favourite foreign films.
Peter Lorre ... Hans Beckert
Ellen Widmann ... Frau Beckmann
Inge Landgut ... Elsie Beckmann
Otto Wernicke ... Inspector Karl Lohmann
Theodor Loos ... Inspector Groeber
Gustaf Gründgens ... Schränker
Friedrich Gnaß ... Franz, the burglar
Fritz Odemar ... The cheater
Paul Kemp ... Pickpocket with six watches
Theo Lingen ... Bauernfänger
Rudolf Blümner ... Beckert's defender
Georg John ... Blind panhandler
Franz Stein ... Minister
Director: Fritz Lang
Codecs: XVid / MP3
"M" is a cinematic masterpiece of visual drama. The stunning performances define the careers of exceptional actors such as Peter Lorre and Gustaf Grundgens. Director Fritz Lang gives depth and dimension to his production by distinctly capturing the ecstasy of the film's many characters and focusing accurately on individual situations. This is an intriguing journey into the mind of a psychotic child murderer, blending terror, complexity, and malignity in one amazing motion picture.
Screenwriters Paul Falkenburg and Adlof Jansen construct the characters of "M" with distinctive personalities and three dimensional emotions. Many lesser filmmakers give their characters no creativity outside the confines of the script. In this movie each individual character has a mind of their own; they are free to roam the landscape of a inviting atmosphere.
Fabricating such an impressive atmosphere is some of the best cinematography and lighting effects that I can remember watching. This resplendent component creates the film's terrific moody ambiance. Suspense is one thing "M" contains in full context. The movie's third act is sheer peak-high tension.
Shot in black and white, "M" stars Peter Lorre as Peter-Hans Beckert, an extremely disturbed child murderer in the process of wreaking havoc on a neighborhood. Parents everywhere are living in fear of their children being kidnapped and abruptly annihilated.
This picture contains a brilliantly crafted setup. The visual setting creates a strongly developed opening. Every scene works to either complicate the initial problem or propels the story through a firm narrative through line.
The film captures the chaos of the town in terror perfectly. "M" is more about the results of a serial killer than an actual serial killer. Never do we directly witness a murder; the violent encounters are implied. This method of film making perhaps makes the movie's impact even greater. With an creative perspective through a third person point of view, the filmmakers repeatedly give us examples of a solid structure through characters and occurrences.
"M" offers a unforgettable, challenging performance by Peter Lorre. This extraordinary actor is tormenting and disturbing without embracing in extreme violent conduct. He perspires with momentum and rapture. This productions closing scenes are so deeply penetrating they entirely captivate the viewer. Isn't this what movies are supposed to do?
After seeing this, all I can think is "wow." Impeccably directed by Fritz Lang, and starring a young and plump Peter Lorre, M is perhaps the single greatest film I have ever seen. Lang created two film genres with this one film: Film-Noir, and the Crime/Psychological Thriller. The origins of Film-Noir can clearly be seen in this, as are the remaining traces of German Expressionism, brought about by the director that helped pioneer both movements.
M is about the search for a child murderer in Berlin, and as the story, and the search progress, the high profile murderer begins to inhibit the lives of everyone from the Police, to the criminals, to innocent bystanders who are accused of being the murderer for even the slightest contact with any child.
The most startling thing about this film is it's use of sound. M was Germany's first talkie, and is evident by the primitive sound recording. Characters can often be just barely heard (thank God for the subtitles), but regardless of the limitations of the technology in the medium, the use of sound is advanced even by today's standards. This film featured the first scene where two different parties are talking about the same thing, and the conversation is continued between the two groups (for the dramatic touch, the two parties were the Police, and the Criminals both intent on finding the murderer to save their reputation). It was also the first talkie to have a person heard off screen while an image unrelated to the dialog is displayed on screen (as seen early in the movie when Mrs. Beckman is heard calling for her child Elsie while an empty attic, an empty chair, and an empty stairway are shown). While Lang used sound heavily to enhance the mood and feel of his film, he also went without it (complete dead silence) on occasion to increase tension and create a paranoid mood.
Other cool tricks used by the Fritz Lang include heavy use of shadows (largely in the style of the yet to come Film-Noir genre), and the use of setting to create darker moods (evidence that Lang was at the head of the German Expressionist movement).
This is a must see film. Without this film we would probably not have the modern psychological/crime thrillers like Silence of the Lambe, and Se7en.
* Peter Lorre's whistling was dubbed by director Fritz Lang.
* The tune that Peter Lorre's character whistles is "In the Hall of the Mountain King," from the "Peer Gynt" suite, by Edvard Grieg.
* Peter Lorre was Jewish and fled Germany in fear of Nazi persecution shortly after the movie's release. Fritz Lang, who was half Jewish, fled two years later.
* Contrary to popular belief, Fritz Lang did not change the title from "The Murderers are Among Us" to "M" due to fear of persecution by the Nazis. He changed the title during filming, influenced by the scene where one of the criminals writes the letter on his hand. Lang thought "M" was a more interesting title.
* Fritz Lang asserts that he cast real criminals for the court scene in the end.
* Fritz Lang's cruelty to his actors was legendary here. Peter Lorre was thrown down the stairs into the cellar over a dozen times.
* Based on an article Fritz Lang read about the serial killer Peter Kuerten from Duesseldorf. Details have been changed but some things resemble reality.
* In Germany, the Nazis banned the movie in July 1934.
* The extras playing the members of the criminal gang were real life delinquents: before the end of the turning 24 of them were put into jail.
* Premiere voted this movie as one of "The 25 Most Dangerous Movies".
* Chosen by the Association of German Cinémathèques as the most important German film of all times.
* The use of voiceover narration was a groundbreaking new technique at the time.
* The title "M" is short for Mörder, the German word meaning Murderer.
* MGM studio head Irving Thalberg assembled his writers and directors for a private screening of this film, telling them that they needed to be making films of this power and caliber. He also admitted that if anyone had brought a story of a child killer to him, he would have rejected it.
* Director Fritz Lang made this film in an effort to claw back his artistic standing after the double failure of his two previous films, Metropolis (1927) and Frau im Mond (1929).