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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

An Enthralling Classic, and a Triumph For Lang & Lorre

Author: Snow Leopard from Ohio
24 September 2004

An enthralling classic that still works as well as any movie of the genre that has been made since, "M" is also an artistic triumph for Fritz Lang and an acting triumph for Peter Lorre. The grim, complex story and the varied and sometimes weird settings fit together perfectly, leaving you with a lasting impression of the world that they create.

The story pulls you in quickly, and it only gets deeper as it goes on. To the basic story-line of the hunt for the murderer, it adds a detailed and distinctive portrayal of its society, with some unusual and thought-provoking parallels between sectors of society that at first would seem quite different. The settings are quite detailed and often unusual, yet never without a purpose. Lang strives for uniqueness but always keeps things tied together. There are many good sequences - too many to detail - that are as interesting to watch as they are important to the story.

To all this is added Lorre's performance, which showed how many things he could do. Seeing him perform so well in such a challenging lead role, it is no surprise that his supporting roles were such an important part of so many other fine films. Here, Lorre is one of numerous factors that make "M" such a memorable classic.

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7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:


Author: tedg ( from Virginia Beach
8 July 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoilers herein.

Seeing this again makes me wonder about the different ways people evaluate filmmakers. For me, a filmmaker has to have skills in conveyance ideally through novel as well as effective means, but he/she also must have something worth conveying.

In the first measure, I've always regarded Lang as a production designer not a filmmaker. He poses as a filmmaker just as the seducer here poses as a friend. Both are talented fakers.

In the second half of the equation, I have always been unsatisfied by the elementary social commentary he selects.

Ted's Evaluation -- 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.

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I can't help myself

Author: Prismark10 from United Kingdom
22 September 2016

M is such a revered film yet also little seen. Only in recent years has a restored version has been available. This was Fritz Lang's first talkie but he still uses expressionist techniques.

M is a crime drama, a city terrorised as children are getting killed. The cops are shaking everyone down including the criminal underworld and they have had enough and also hunt down the child killer.

Peter Lorre is the plump pathological child killer whistling a tune from 'In the Hall of the Mountain King' which will eventually give him away. He befriends little girls with the promise of cakes, sweets and balloons before he kills them.

Lorre only appears here sparingly. His first appearance is as a shadow as he lures a small child. He spends a lot of the time being hunted down and then once caught by the mob has to plead for his life as he is a victim of a diseased mind that compels him to kill.

Lang paints the inhabitants as grotesques, both the criminals and the police (maybe reflecting the rise of Nazism in Germany.) There is a lot of talking both by the police and the criminals as to who this killer is and how to catch him. One of the criminals actually does a rather good profile on him.

The film is uneven, too long. The hunt for the murderer starts well before the hour is up and really drags as it is mixed up with a heist. Once caught the murderer stands trial at a kangaroo court, he is even given a lawyer where he makes his plea for understanding of his uncontrollable urges.

Lorre became a star with his bug eyed, sweaty, deranged face of the killer. He screams 'I can't help myself' a phrase that has been cynically used by 1980s vigilante action directors so the hero can shoot the bad guy dead, point blank.

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M – Masterpiece!

Author: Toby Richard
19 September 2016

'M' is brilliant! This film was so way ahead of its time that it still holds up today and doesn't feel dated one bit but rather modern. The only thing that seems a bit odd by today's standards is the complete lack of incidental music and the fact that many scenes don't include sound effects and are virtually silent. You have to remember, though, that this film was made right at the transition from silent film to sound film, so the concept of sound in films was still rather new and director Fritz Lang used the technology to its full potential in 'M.'

Lang's direction is magnificent, especially if you take into consideration that this film was made in 1930. The camera angles, tracking shots and zoom shots Lang used here were groundbreaking back then and they are still marvelous today. The three main characters of the film are played by Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke and Gustaf Gründgens and all three of them are fantastic in their respective roles. Lorre's acting is intense, especially in the finale. That performance is something else!

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Harrowing and profound

Author: Leofwine_draca from United Kingdom
20 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Every once in a while there comes along a film about a serial killer. There's usually a lot of hype, and the film is no doubt controversial. The best known example of a serial killer film is PSYCHO. More recent examples would be MANIAC and American PSYCHO. But the film that started them all off was this black-and-white thriller/chiller that came from Germany, a shocking and disturbing film which still holds up as being powerful and frightening this day. Surprisingly, it's a film which hasn't dated, a film which looks at psychology - both individual and mob-orientated.

Peter Lorre appears in his first starring role, and it's safe to say this is his best and most well-remembered performance. Lorre portrays his killer as a sympathetic, whining, bug-eyed creep who hates himself for what he does but is unable to resist the compulsion to killer. His multi-dimensional murderer manages to be upsetting and frightening in equal measures. Lorre is given surprisingly little screen time until the mock-courtroom ending which gives us a real insight into the mind of a child murderer/molester.

This is a film which was way ahead of itself at the time it was made - in much the same way that PEEPING TOM was, thirty years later on. Fritz Lang directs with plenty of artistic flair, never letting the camera sit static for too long, which was the main flaw with Universal's Dracula. All the main actors and actresses are very good, especially the criminals who play the good guys for a change. There are plenty of memorable scenes, such as the balloon floating into the electricity lines at the beginning (subtle and disturbing), Lorre discovering, to his horror, that he has an 'M' chalked on to his back, and a tense chase through the streets and man hunt for the killer. And who can forget the eerie tune of Hall of the Mountain King that Lorre whistles to himself whenever he's on the prowl. Harrowing and profound, M is rightly regarded as a suspenseful masterpiece.

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A Terrifying Masterpiece.

Author: goalsmistakesfootball
30 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have no words to describe Fritz Lang's masterpiece M. It is brimmed with suspense that will make you shiver throughout. Peter Lorre's performance in all is mind-boggling, in one particular scene he describes how he cannot help killing children and it is a masterful moment, the actor who went on to feature in Casablanca and the Maltese Falcon makes M, seventy-fourth on the IMDb Top 250. It has immediately jumped into my top ten favourite films of all time, joining Cinema Paridiso in foreign films, which are films I don't usually like, but yet the most firm hater of foreign films must be drawn to a film like M. Fritz Lang is a film genius and I will continue to love this film, I have also been asked to watch another Fritz Lang film, Metropolis, so here I come!

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A pioneering drama and cinematic landmark

Author: Kyle Perez from Canada
29 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Fritz Lang, dubbed as the "Master of Darkness", achieved new heights with his groundbreaking, 1927 silent masterpiece "Metropolis". Four years later, Lang would create his first 'talking' film in "M", a precursor to the film-noir genre that, even today, serves as the quintessence of crime thriller.

One thing I truly admire about B&W films is its use of light and shadows to manipulate setting, emotions and character development. Lang's visual style was said to mirror his contempt and increasingly pessimistic worldview. In "M", Lang creates an atmosphere of fearful apprehension; men are seen in shadows, in smoke-filled rooms.

This is a powerful and fertile piece of art. Hans Beckert, the disturbed child killer, uncannily portrayed by Peter Lorre, is often seen looking through glass windows or mirrors for expressive purposes. Sometimes we see just his shadow. His words are few and far between, and yet his general frame of mind and emotions are quite apparent to us.

The acting is superb and the story is a riveting one. But it was the cinematography that took my breathe away. One spectacular shot, among many, occurs when Becker is unwillingly dragged down to a basement. His cries for help are quickly silenced as he turns around to the sight of hundreds of criminal faces - silent, eerie, menacing.

The flow of this story is guided by two seemingly distinct groups seeking out the notorious child murderer - the police and the criminals. And yet, they are both cleverly shot (in their dark, smoky rooms) to appear as virtually homologous beings - even the criminals deem this man's freedom as injustice, with this commonality almost blending two morally opposite figures into one force.

The film is masterfully crafted and serves as an important message for parental neglect of their children. As we hear our killer compulsively whistle the same tune from "Peer Gynt," we are continually reminded of the innocence children can see in others and the perils of them acting on that naiveté. "M" is an unpredictably formidable film.

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Awesome. Way ahead of its time.

Author: Takethispunch from Greenland
10 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A group of children are playing an elimination game in the courtyard of an apartment building in Berlin[5] using a chant about a murderer of children. A woman sets the table for dinner, waiting for her daughter to come home from school. A wanted poster warns of a serial killer preying on children, as anxious parents wait outside a school.

Little Elsie Beckmann leaves school, bouncing a ball on her way home. She is approached by Hans Beckert, who is whistling "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Edvard Grieg. He offers to buy her a balloon from a blind street-vendor. He walks and talks with her. Elsie's place at the dinner table remains empty, her ball is shown rolling away across a patch of grass, and her balloon is lost in the telephone lines overhead.

In the wake of Elsie's death, Beckert sends an angry letter about his crimes to the newspapers, from which the police extract clues using the new techniques of fingerprinting and handwriting analysis. Under mounting pressure from city leaders, the police work around the clock. Inspector Karl Lohmann instructs his men to intensify their search and to check the records of recently released psychiatric patients to look for those with a history of violence against children. They stage frequent raids to question known criminals, disrupting underworld business so badly that Der Schränker ("The Safecracker") calls a meeting of the city's criminal bosses. They decide to organize their own manhunt, using beggars to watch and guard the children.

The police discover two clues corresponding to the killer's letter in Beckert's rented rooms. They wait there to arrest him.

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"M" makes you create the violence in your own mind

Author: rqhofacker-00469 from Colorado, USA
23 June 2016

This masterwork was the joint creation of a husband and wife team, Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou, even though Lang's name is the only one featured up front. "M" is much more than just a film about capturing a pedophile murderer. In fact, you never see a murder. Most reviews overlook the clever structure of the script, which was credited to both Lang and von Harbou. Berlin is famous for its dry humor, which is sprinkled throughout the dialog despite the grim theme. Early on there's a scene in a bar in which a group of regulars discuss the latest murder until one man accuses another of possibly being the culprit. And there is a sequence of wry cuts which switch back and forth between a police conference and a gang conference as both separately discuss how to capture the child killer.

Peter Lorre was a stage actor before accepting this film role, and it shows at times. Actually, the film is almost stolen by the sly Otto Wernicke (Inspector Karl Lohmann), whose performance was so strong that Lang brought him back to play the same character in "The Testament of Dr. Mabuse" (1933). Another outstanding performance was given by Gustav Gründgens (Schränker, the crime boss). The large cast was matched to the top talents. The cutting is marvelous, as is the camera work. But be careful to avoid the washed-out copies that were sold before the restored version (2004). The English subtitles were clear without interfering with the images, and the sound was very good (by 1931 standards).

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Is vigilante justice ever acceptable?

Author: jameslinton-75252 from United Kingdom
14 May 2016

This was a difficult film for me to review. It is definitely awakening in its portrayal of vigilante justice, especially in whether vigilante justice is ever acceptable. It also engages with the ideas of insanity and crime. Can a person be exempted from murder if they are insane and not in charge of their actions? This idea is explored brilliantly in the film's final scene. Despite this, I did not enjoy the film as much as I thought I would. It jumped about a lot and the characters were largely forgettable. I wasn't engaged throughout and generally I just felt a bit bored at times.

Read my full review here:

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