M - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

M Reviews

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October 20, 2017
M is an early police procedural and psychological thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Peter Lorre is electrifying, as usual, in this baby-faced performance. It is also notable for depicting the ugliness of Berlin and the German people during the rise of the Nazi Party. You can't watch the mindless mobs descend on innocent people without your mind racing to how Hitler brainwashed a large proportion of the nation. (Although Nazis aren't mentioned in the movie, it is a clear subtext.) It also raises a very interesting question: Who is worse, the person who kills because he can't control himself or the person who can control himself and still kills? What should the state do about each?
½ October 11, 2017
While not as showily captivating as some other classics of the same era (eg Metropolis), this is still a very interesting watch. The dramatic, thematic light and shadow, and especially the skilful, sparing use of the new technology of sound are clear forerunners of my most beloved of genres, film noir. The plot also surprised me somewhat, being less lurid and melodramatic than I has feared.
August 20, 2017
You have to be an Avengers-spoiled brat to not like this.
This is absolutely phenomenal for its time. The fact that it's relevant and great still, shows that this is a true masterpiece.
July 14, 2017
Hard to believe this film is over 80 years old, and still packs a punch. Thrilling, nail-biting, the subject matter must have been extraordinary for its time. Peter Lorre uses his huge eyes to maximum effect, but it's Fritz Lang's inventiveness that take centre stage. Techniques we take for granted today, like tracking shots or use of shadows and light, were used beautifully!
½ June 27, 2017
*Spoiler Warning*

Oddly enough, the only reason I watched this movie as fast as I did was because I found its short title to be eye catching while looking for different films to watch. I also like crime dramas, so I decided to watch this movie as I was expecting something Hitchcock-esque. However, I liked it all of Hitchcock's films that I've seen as it's not just a well-made crime drama, but a smart one.

A child murderer named Hans Beckert has just killed his third victim, Elsie Beckmann. With little evidence, the police decide to raid and question psychiatric patients with a history of violence towards children. In fear of the police ruining business, an underground boss named Schranker decided to assemble a group of crime lords to start their own manhunt.

On the surface, this movie seems like a simple, well-made crime drama. However, the movie has a deeper meaning concerning people fighting against a corrupt environment. The police force in the film were flawed as they staged raids with little to no evidence. They were the reason why the gang lords organized their own manhunt. That manhunt came with its own law force. However, that's not to say that what they did was moral, because they also created an unfair kangaroo court to try Hans Beckert. They were more concerned with killing him themselves rather than turning him over to the police. Despite this, however, the fact that the citizens were more successful than the police in catching the child murderer shows how faulty the actual police force was. Essentially, this film is about a corrupt "law force" forming in the midst of another one.

As many other critics have pointed out, Peter Lorre gave a magnificent performance. The reason his performance was so unsettling was how his character turned from a heartless killer to someone terrified by the thought of being killed. The final act where he begged for his life was chilling as we got to see another side of Beckert that we hadn't witnessed before. I don't believe that many other actors would've been able to make that scene work as well as he did. Even though Lorre didn't become truly spectacular until the 2nd half, I wouldn't describe his performance as bland, because he still sent chills down my spine when he would talk to the kids he planned on killing. Also, even his whistling was slightly unsettling. On top of Lorre's great performance, the final act was also powerful as Beckert's monologue for why he kills people is both haunting and thought provoking. The scene also shows the flaws with the court system the criminals established, showing that they aren't any better than the police force in the film.

This movie has one of the best openings I've ever seen in recent years. It does a great job putting us right in the middle of the action. It starts off with several kids chanting about a murderer in a courtyard, a scene which shows us how many of the children are oblivious to how dangerous the killer really is. The scene then shows one of the girls coming home when she comes across a wanted poster for the murderer. Suddenly, we witness one of the most unsettling and remarkable character introductions of all time as Beckert's shadow moves in front of the poster. It's a clever way of introducing us to the killer not just because of its creativity, but also because the film doesn't show Beckert's face right away. There are also a couple unsettling shots in the opening that work due to their subtlety such as Elsie's ball rolling out of the bushes and her balloon getting lost in a set of telephone wires.

The sound in this film was both impressive and revolutionary. Quite a few scenes stuck out due to their use of sound. An example can be found in the opening shot as we heard a girl talking before the film revealed its first shot. The technique of showing dialogue or sound before a film starts off is still used in movies today such as "Hunger", "The Tree of Life", and "Whiplash". However, a truly suspenseful moment was when Beckert pursued a young girl in the streets. The camera was only focused on her, but we heard Beckert's whistling in the background getting louder and louder. There were other instances in the film which made the camera feel alive. An example of this was how we heard the sounds of different objects before they would come into view. This can be seen in the car horns as we heard them before they entered the shot. It felt like the movie was actually taking place in real time. While this may seem like nothing today, it was really innovative back then. The sound design in the film was way ahead of its time.

In conclusion, this movie was a remarkable film. It's both a deep and well-made crime drama which impressed me for a number of reasons. It has a deeper meaning, great acting, a haunting 2nd half, and innovative sound design. A few people criticized the movie for trying to get you to sympathize with a child murderer. However, I don't think the movie is asking for sympathy as much as it is asking for understanding. Regardless, it's one of the best crime films I've ever seen.
June 25, 2017
This movie is sooo good. How can you not like a movie this? M is one of those classics that will always stand the test of time. Definitely deserves a re-watch.
June 9, 2017
Suspenseful, emotional, gritty, this movie has it all. A story about a child murderer is so gut-wrenching, yet so good.
March 4, 2017
Surprisingly sordid for its time.
½ February 24, 2017
One of the first (if not the first) Film Noirs. A child killer is loose on the streets in Germany, and the police force cannot seem to catch him. With the criminal underworld suffering from constant raids, the criminals decide to unite and catch him themselves. The film has a very cool plot, and it's beautifully shot with shady streets and alleys. Peter Lorre also has what may be his best performance as a tortured killer who commits his horrendous crimes because he "must".
February 10, 2017
Someone is murdering children in a German town. The police are doing all they can to solve the case but, after several months, several murders and exhausting work, still have no clues. Their methods of trying to find the murderer start to adversely affect the local criminal community. Due to this, the local organised crime syndicate takes it upon themselves to find the murderer and mete out punishment...

Powerful, provocative, thought-provoking masterpiece from famed director Fritz Lang. For the most part this is a clever, gritty, tense, film noir-like (as it predates film noir, strictly speaking) crime/mystery drama. Shows how the police go about their work and how often nothing positive happens for months, and then the smallest thing breaks the case wide open. The criminals' methods in finding the murderer are also very interesting, and realistic.

Lang maintains the suspense and mystery well, only revealing the murderer in the last few scenes and even then you're not sure they have the right guy.

The last few scenes add a level of profundity and debate to the proceedings. We are forced to think about justice, especially vigilante justice, and the concept of of an eye for an eye. This can be quite jarring, as you may feel that Lang is steering you down one way of thinking and even wants you to feel sympathy for the murderer. However, ultimately, while justice was served, he does leave the verdict open to a degree, leaving you to fill in your own outcome. Moreover, the ultimate feeling was a balanced, objective discussion was had.

Superb performance by Peter Lorre as the murderer. He only has a few scenes but is fantastic in them. Good work too by Otto Wernicke as the police inspector.
January 16, 2017
This is one of the best films ever made. period. exclamation point!! This is also a pretty good film if you're not used to sub-titles. It's not dialogue heavy.

Lorre became an international celebrity with this film, and it's hard to imagine any other actor playing the part. Unfortunately, it also type cast him for a couple of decades, until he was retype-cast as a drunk. Lang, already recognized as a competent director after Metropolis, cemented his reputation world-wide as a great director of "talkies' too. *Note: -until the rise of Naziism in the mid 30's, German cinema was possibly the best in the world - the US merely had a larger potential audience to gain profits by.

Fans of Dexter owe a lot to Lang's M. The movie begins with some mothers, nervous about their children's safety. We are introduced to a nice, quiet neighbor whom no one would suspect of also being a crafty murderer. Enter the intelligent and determined police who have only the flimsiest of leads, and criminals who want to beat the police to the psycho - he's disrupting their normal business by putting all citizens in an uproar! Cinematography and editing are among the best.
*Note: real career criminals were used as extras in this film!

By the time you get to the "Hilfe, HILFE", you'll be seeing parallels in the problems of living in a 21st century modern society. How far have we come since the first cities sprang up hundreds of years ago? Will we ever outgrow a need for police?

*WARNING*: this film may get you thinking about today's social/political problems.

If you get the chance, no..., go out of your way and make sure you watch the extras that come with the 80th anniversary DVD. Unless you've NEVER been interested in any interview or DVD extra of a Spielberg film; or a Capra, Hitchcock, Polanski, Kubrick, Lucas, Scorsese, Barry Levinson, Billy Wilder, Oliver Stone, Ken Burns, Joss Whedon, ...production. (In which case, why did you read this far??) Then watch M again. Yes, THIS film is THAT good.
½ December 28, 2016
The movie as a whole may be rather simple, but the cinematography is great, the buildup is very intense, and the movie's use of sound is really clever, especially when taking into account that this is one of the earliest sound films in existence.
November 25, 2016
"Espera, espera sólo un ratito, de negro el monstruo vendrá sólo con su cuchillito a ti te rebanará"
October 31, 2016
A rare nail-bitting soul-searcher, "M" still stands as one of the greatest films ever made for cinema. Director Fritz Land and actor Peter Lorre help deliver a timeless Masterpiece.
½ October 22, 2016
M is one of those films you just have to have seen. Peter Lorre is phenomenal, and everyone else is pretty good too, and while the unconventional style of storytelling without a clear protagonist can slow the film down on rare occasions, the visual balance of realism and chilling beauty and the flowing editing create an entire living, breathing city on celluloid. The final 15 minutes are among the best of German cinema, and M's message on how to deal with criminality and the dangers of mob rule hasn't aged a day in terms of relevance.
½ August 13, 2016
It takes a while to get going through its long exposition, but when it finally starts opening up to action and intrigue, the intellectual gears start turning, and it gradually becomes a cleverly crafted and morally complex crime saga.
July 30, 2016
A director's commentary on a fractured and deadly Germany. We gain a better understanding of people with homicidal tendencies and the mob mentalities of war time Germany. We are faced with ethics ethical questions of killing, the death penalty, and self control. Peter Lorre was great. His final speech is haunting and cuts to your core. Roger Ebert's review made me appreciate the film even more.
July 19, 2016
Amazing. Simply an incredible film. Pete Lorre in his best performance is disturbing and somehow tragic. Masterfully made. It says a lot that a movie this old, is still more effective than most movies these days...
Super Reviewer
July 17, 2016
This earlier version of M is downright fantastic. Peter Lorre shows you how tremendous of an actor he was before taking a few silly roles in Hollywood pictures. More engrossing than Lang's other work.
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