M (1931)
August 31, 2022 7:33 AM - Subscribe

In this classic German thriller, Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre), a serial killer who preys on children, becomes the focus of a massive Berlin police manhunt. Beckert's heinous crimes are so repellant and disruptive to city life that he is even targeted by others in the seedy underworld network. With both cops and criminals in pursuit, the murderer soon realizes that people are on his trail, sending him into a tense, panicked attempt to escape justice.

Directed by Fritz Lang. Written by Thea von Harbou and Lang.

100% fresh (with 61 reviews) on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on HBO Max, Ples, Kanopy, Criterion, and Filmbox. Also available for digital rental on multiple outlets.
posted by DirtyOldTown (12 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
That 100% fresh is earned. I cannot imagine not being impressed with this. From the famous opening scene and all the way through to the end, this is tense and exquisitely put together.

It's a movie that is so old that the vast, vast majority of the people who saw it on its initial theatrical run are dead, but it still feels fresh.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:40 AM on August 31, 2022 [8 favorites]


I saw this when I was pretty young, mainly because it was a surprise to find it at Blockbuster, and I never forgot it. Lorre was kind of a joke character by then, but he was never a joke to me after this. And I never hear "In the Hall of the Mountain King" without thinking of it.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:16 AM on August 31, 2022 [1 favorite]


Brilliant, pioneering use of sound in this film, for instance the killer's whistling signaling onset of his homicidal urge, its increasing intensity depicting violent urges without showing them, and then using it as a device to drive the action by identifying the killer. It's masterful work, Fritz Lang understood the expressive language of film readily and intuitively, even as those around him took decades to find techniques for what his movies are bursting with.
posted by LooseFilter at 8:43 AM on August 31, 2022 [1 favorite]


I absolutely love this movie. I think one of my favorite sequences is when the psychological profile is being read aloud while we see the killer on screen going through his daily routine. That really hit me to actually see that a person could kill children and then just have a totally normal daily routine. That really made an impact.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:01 AM on August 31, 2022


What they said. Just phenomenal. And, yeah, seeing Lorre at work here, after a lifetime of him being a joke character, is stunning.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:16 AM on August 31, 2022 [1 favorite]


This is one of the tensest movies I have ever seen. Actually made it hard for me to watch Lorre in his more comic U.S. film roles.
posted by praemunire at 10:49 AM on August 31, 2022


(Also I saw this movie after The Third Man and was, like, ohhhhh, that's where that came from!)
posted by praemunire at 10:51 AM on August 31, 2022




This is an amazing film and I will always rank it among my personal favourites - but I haven't watched it since having children myself and I don't know if I'll be able to again.
posted by Paragon at 2:23 PM on August 31, 2022


For years I only knew of Peter Lorre from his later Hollywood appearances, like 20,000 Leagues, where he was more of a source of comic relief. Years later, seeing M gave me a way better appreciation. Most memorable is his moment in front of a cutlery store display window, surrounded by the hovering reflections of knives. Such an evocative image. M's exploration of the psychology of murder casts a long shadow.
posted by abraxasaxarba at 4:23 PM on August 31, 2022 [1 favorite]


I just watched this tonight. Lorre was amazing, editing really impressed, shot composition and lighting tricks that everyone borrowed since.

I can't imagine what the tobacco budget was...
posted by Marky at 9:30 PM on August 31, 2022 [1 favorite]


I believe this is out of copyright and at any rate is also on YouTube and Archive.org. Not sure of the quality or other foibles, but a free-everywhere option is always nice.
posted by rhizome at 9:50 PM on August 31, 2022 [3 favorites]


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