M Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ June 3, 2014
Fritz Lang crafts a stunning work of dramatic thrills with his 1931 film M. This being his first talkie after years of making silent films, Lang's direction is superb, and this is a film that is tense, and engaging from the moment it starts. The story is very good, and it has enough effective moments to really grab your attention. This is a picture that for its time delivered something that had never been seen before. Beautifully directed and acted, M is a near perfect picture that broke barriers in the way films told stories. With effective, memorable performances, Fritz Lang has crafted one of the most impressive classic films that I have seen it ranks as a film classic that raised the bar in storytelling and it did this at a time where it was almost taboo to tell a story like this. M is a stunning picture well worth your time, and it's a fine foreign film, and it ranks as a masterpiece of cinema as well. I've only seen Lang's Metropolis beforehand, and is a director who can craft thoroughly engaging picture with very interesting concepts and ideas. Metropolis was extremely ambitious in its ideas, but with M he took a step back and focused on a simpler story, and the result is a stunning piece of cinema that is thrilling from the moment it starts. If you enjoy every aspect of film, then you're going to enjoy this picture. The film stands out because Fritz Lang pushed the boundaries of what you could do with a story, and he is a pioneer in doing so, and M resonates because of it. Overall this is a near perfect movie that is one of the finest film classics that you can watch. With brilliant direction and effective performances, M is a superb picture that helped shape cinema for many years to come.
Super Reviewer
September 30, 2011
Hans Beckert: What do you know about it? Who are you anyway? Who are you? Criminals? Are you proud of yourselves? Proud of breaking safes or cheating at cards? Things you could just as well keep your fingers off. You wouldn't need to do all that if you'd learn a proper trade or if you'd work. If you weren't a bunch of lazy bastards. But I... I can't help myself! I have no control over this, this evil thing inside of me, the fire, the voices, the torment!

M was the first talkie from Fritz Lang and it still stands up as one of his best films and quite possibly his best talkie. There's a ton of social issues, especially involving the whole pleading insanity thing. A child murderer is walking the streets and the police, despite their hardest efforts are having absolutely no luck in catching him. They follow every lead and scour the underworld looking for him. This begins to anger the underworld and the criminals that use it. Police are constantly showing up and escorting them to headquarters. Still, they can't find their man. The criminal underworld, with help from the beggars decide to take it upon themselves to find the killer and bring him to justice.

M is a masterpiece. A film that is now over 80 years old and still maintains all of its power. Also, all the themes of this film are still perfectly relevant in todays world and will probably always be. Peter Lorre gives a terrific performance, embodying both the evil child killer and the victim of insanity because he can't help what he does.

M is a film for fans of noir style films, Lang, and filmmaking in general. This is one of those movies that must be seen once by all film buffs. Not to be missed.
Super Reviewer
September 13, 2012
A meticulously crafted German crime-drama. Peter Lorre's performance is haunting and inspired, and only complements the sharp screenplay, complex story arc and incisive social commentary.
Super Reviewer
September 12, 2012
A masterful exercise in suspense from the decorated Fritz Lang, concerning a child murderer (Peter Lorre) and how his killing spree angers not only the families of those who are slain, but the underbelly society of criminals and thugs who want him off of the street as well for their own personal reasons. In terms of influence and memorability, this film fully surpasses Lang's previous effort "Metropolis", a good but not great film which had an extremely corny ending I could not for one overlook among other problems. This is a polar opposite to that movie. It focuses on a nihilistic society where nobody trusts anyone, and the motives of those involved never seem to be pure and noble. Lorre's monstrous, unforgettably arresting performance really anchors this film, which builds to a devastating conclusion in which those who are hurt the most get to utter the overall message and haunting final words of the film. A phenomenal classic that can not go unwatched.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
March 17, 2012
Awesome???? This film is not only impressive for a 30's film but still gripping today. Loved the dark ending and Lorre's acting!
Super Reviewer
½ June 4, 2008
It's a movie you will watch mostly for it's historical importance, it's cinematic techniques, and for Lorre's performance. Too many scenes of people smoking and having reunions, not enough interesting characters.
Super Reviewer
August 8, 2010
One of the front runners for Fritz Lang's best films, and one of the best examples of German expression and the modernist movement, M is a story with a message that is either moralistic of the times or includes fear tactics in modern society. The film was made as Germany's first sound film, and created the serial killer genre, and police procedure type of situations. It follows the exploits of Berlin before Nazi Germany had truly risen to power. The townspeople in this film become heavily invested in torches and pitchforks trying to find out the identity of a child murderer living among them. (hence the original title Murderers Among Us) They become irrationally hostile towards all people who are suspected in the web of criminal activity that perforates the city. We watch the dynamics between the criminal element and the concerned parents becoming dangerous to each other and those around them. The first hour of the entire film builds this raw tension up to bursting, teasing us with scenes without any diegetic sound whatsoever, reeling us in but with an uncomfortable air, as if music itself was too simplistic for the audience. When we're introduced to Hans Becker as this reviling monster, we've already been led to believe that the villagers and police are the villains, that we almost feel sympathy for him. Whenever they find anyone even resembling his form they become violent and untrustworthy with their resulting actions, which makes any human's fate a very scary question to pose to oneself. He seems absolutely pitiful, and maybe my sympathies would have been extended to the very end of the film, had it not been for the fact that he writes a letter to the police which basically says, "Nana nana boo boo," telling them they will never find him, and that he wants national presence among the people. He creates the unrest willingly, so the fact that many point to this and lump it in with Lang's later work, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, is ludicrous. I can see the connection to the townspeople as the Nazi party, but it doesn't configure with what we know of the dymanic between all involved parties. I do assert that one particular scene looks like they collected items from rounded up criminals, much like when they took Jews' suitcases before boarding trains to concentration camps. The performance by Lorre is bug eyed and irritatingly nervous, which doesn't make sense with the fact that he feels so clinical about his actions in the letter, but in the final scene, it all makes sense. He becomes cornered, and we finally look at the morality of killing because of compulsion. I could see this being used in a case against the death penalty, or to change legislation on the prosecution of criminals in our systems. (Hitler used it to warn of the dangers of pedophilia.) Hinging on shots of staircases,mirrors, shadows, and only including diegetic music but not sound, this film oozes German expression, barely using sound, as if Lang changed his mind over what to use every other week of shooting. It's a remarkable film, overall, sinister and morally reprehensible, it's one of Lang's many masterpieces.
Super Reviewer
October 8, 2011
This brilliantly crafted suspense classic pulls on all of your emotional strings as a child killer is on the loose. Every person in town seems to want a piece of him. As on of the townspeople witnesses his next attempt, he chalks the letter "M" across his left shoulder. Everyone in town is informed of this and is able to trap him in a bulding where there are no exits. The film is filled with amazing cinematography, and the first ever hollywood film to have sound, definitely shows it's cinematic talent. For it's time, the acting is quite powerful and the resolution is heart-stopping. It ends quite abruptly, letting you believe what you want. This film is one of the best pieces of crime cinema I have ever witnessed on screen. It is riveting, heart-pounding, and jaw-droppingly strong. "M" is a pure masterpiece.
Super Reviewer
December 23, 2009
Fritz Lang's socially-conscious masterpiece M is an all time classic film that could have come from any time period. Recently restored to its nearly full length, it has now taken on a whole new life in high definition. The story of a sinister underworld combining forces with angry citizens - all united to catch a child killer on the loose before the police do makes for a very compelling story. It did particularly in an era where the storyline was ripped straight from the local German headlines. It hit home, even if we're asked to sympathize with the killer a bit. Fritz Lang's great silent masterpiece may have been Metropolis or Destiny, but M is his swan song, and a film that any film fan owes it to themself to experience.
Super Reviewer
September 10, 2011
Considered as the finest work of Fritz Lang, M delicately profiles a wanted psychopath with stimulating themes and striking complexity that helplessly infects the audience with questions on justice and ethics. Remarkable.
Super Reviewer
March 12, 2011
I may be barking up the wrong tree completely here but, having just watched M again for the first time in ages, I was struck by how the film seems to prefigure the work of Jean-Pierre Melville in certain key respects. Firstly, as played by Otto Wernicke and Gustaf Gründgens respectively, Fritz Lang presents us with a police inspector and a gangster who are equally charismatic, thereby testing the audience's sympathy, a trick which Melville would make good use of, time and again, in his Nouvelle Vague noirs of the late Fifties and Sixties. But rather than being a straightforward personality contest between the good guys and the bad guys, Lang's far more disturbing moral dilemma invites us to choose between the criminal justice system and mob rule in the question of what should be done with Peter Lorre's pathetic child murderer, who is beyond the pale of the regular criminal fraternity. The director would, of course, return to the subject of mob justice for his first American movie, Fury, in 1936. Lang's fascination with meticulous police procedure in M is also very similar to Melville's in Le Samouraï, and I was yet again reminded of Melville in those scenes where the criminal mob uses the tools and techniques of its trades to close in on the cornered Lorre in a deserted office building, which is essentially a heist scenario with Lorre as the booty.
Super Reviewer
December 30, 2008
As a child of the 60's, I grew up knowing Peter Lorre as a spooky looking character actor with supporting roles in old classics like The Maltese Falcon and Arsenic and Old Lace. Although I enjoyed his performances I never fully appreciated his talent until I saw this 1931 Fritz Lang masterpiece. In it, Lorre plays a psychotic child murderer stalking a German city. Lorre's approach to the character is unusual in the sense that he himself is tormented by the unspeakable acts he commits. There is a tangible emanation of right and wrong, of good versus evil, that Lorre projects. I found myself fascinatingly disgusted (or disgustingly fascinated) by my empathy for his character.
Super Reviewer
September 3, 2010
Lorre's most dramatic performance, and one of his best. If you're a fan of his don't miss this movie. It is both very artsy and very exciting.
Super Reviewer
July 12, 2010
M is a film in which horror is both in what goes unseen and in what takes place in front of an audience. In this masterfully suspenseful film, it is up to a group of people -angry citizens, lawmakers and housewives alike- to discover and capture a child murderer -and, once they have, decide how to keep and punish him. What most struck me about it was the way Fritz Lang dealt with the difficulty of applying law and order as a collective decision, while also expressing the risk and skepticism that derive from leaving law and order to the authorities; that is, when authority is not necessarily the most trustworthy institution. More than a thriller about a serial child killer, to me this is an observation of power and people in the German Expressionist style. In that, it's a masterpiece, and surely a landmark of cinema.
Super Reviewer
March 30, 2010
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 murderers 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 classical American film noir period of the 1940s. This film is one of the absolute best of the early sound era.
Super Reviewer
May 24, 2009
I effin love Peter Lorre. That man can do no wrong in my eyes.
Super Reviewer
February 19, 2007
Another disappointment! I seem to be on a run recently of overrated films. The film of course isn?t all bad, I like the actual storyline and it?s bravery of using a child killer in it?s time, the beginning was good and so was the end, but slumped far too much in the middle.

I can see why it?s a popular choice with people, but found parts far too boring.
Super Reviewer
April 16, 2007
What an excellent film. Ahead of it's time, and all the better because of it. It was Fritz Lang's first "talkie", and apparently the film that made "talkies" respectable. The camera work is amazing, and Peter Lorre is absolutely brilliant in his chilling portrayal of a sick, sick man. This film is great for so many reasons, but most of all because of how thrilling it is while simultaneously provoking much thought and foreshadowing Germany's history that was to come a few years later. Simply put, this film is required viewing for all fans of film.
Super Reviewer
January 25, 2007
one of the first and still one of the best psychological thrillers ever made. peter lorre was haunting in his role as a child murderer and getting into the mind of a killer was disturbing but profound. the vigilante crew was brilliant, and this film paints a stunning picture of what a city goes through when it is gripped by the fear of a monster on the loose. a must watch for all movie fans.
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