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M - 2 Disc Special Edition - (The Criterion Collection)

69 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut, Otto Wernicke, Theodor Loos
  • Directors: Fritz Lang, William Friedkin
  • Writers: Fritz Lang, Egon Jacobson, Thea von Harbou
  • Producers: Seymour Nebenzal
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, DVD-Video, Special Edition, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Dec 14 2004
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00065GX64
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #30,132 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Peter Lorre made film history with his startling performance as a psychotic murderer of children. Too elusive for the Berlin police, the killer is sought and marked by underworld criminals who are feeling the official fallout for his crimes. This riveting, 1931 German drama by Fritz Lang--an early talkie--unfolds against a breathtakingly expressionistic backdrop of shadows and clutter, an atmosphere of predestination that seems to be closing in on Lorre's terrified villain. M is an important piece of cinema's past along with a number of Lang's early German works, including Metropolis and Spies. (Lang eventually brought his influence directly to the American cinema in such films as Fury, They Clash by Night, and The Big Heat.) M shouldn't be missed. This original 111-minute version is a little different from what most people have seen in theaters. --Tom Keogh --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Special Features

Fritz Lang's 1933 groundbreaking classic M, with its haunting visuals and tense pacing, is a deserving entry in the Criterion Collection. Criterion's new DVD transfer includes one notable flaw, however: a white line that periodically appears on the top of the screen, which was caused by the optical printer during the creation of the original film elements. Lang himself was well aware of this flaw. Because cropping out the line would have removed 25 percent of the picture, Criterion and the German restoration team decided to leave it in. Though the line is a little distracting at times, M can now be viewed as Lang intended. Criterion's digital transfer nicely presents this visually dark and expressionistic piece of film history in its original 111-minute length and full-screen format. And what a visual treat to behold! --Rob Bracco --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael R Gates on March 2 2004
Format: DVD
The city of Berlin (during pre-WWII Germany) is wrought with hysteria as a cunning child-killer stalks the streets. To hasten the capture of the murderer, the police clamp down tightly on local criminal activity, making business-as-usual activities nearly impossible for members of the city's organized-crime syndicate. So in an effort to return the city to its previously permissive state of affairs, the local mobsters decide to hunt down the elusive homicidal pedophile themselves.
This compelling study of a pedophilic serial killer and the public reaction to his odious crimes was decades ahead of its time in its treatment of psychological, political, and sociological themes. The first "talkie" from pioneering auteur Fritz Lang--probably better known to fans of classic cinema as the director and artistic force behind 1927's groundbreaking, trendsetting silent SF classic METROPOLIS--1931's M is more than just a crime thriller. It is actually a subtle comment on the sense of security that modern "civilized" people so blithely accept. Lang so effectively blurs the line separating institutions of law from crime syndicates that he leaves viewers questioning whether or not society's leaders are actually capable of keeping its citizens safe and secure. And indeed, Lang had good reason to pose such a question, as the Nazis were already on the rise in Germany at the time he was making M. The film barely veils Lang's disgust for the Germany of that period--a Germany that could birth and foster a philosophy of hatred like Nazism--since the Berlin he depicts is dark with dirt and grime and the people all seem to have bloated, gnarly faces that are twisted into perpetual scowls.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By F. Desbiens on Aug. 6 2009
Format: DVD
Fritz Lang said that this movie was the best he's ever done in his entire life. I agree, because this movie is thrilling, from beginning to end. It tells the story of a child killer who is chased both by the police and the criminals. This movie is not only one of the greatest films ever made, but it is also one of scariest thriller you'll ever see. Because one thing that make it scary, it's simply because there's no music, not even in the title screen. The final scene is the best when the criminals judge the killer for his action in some kind of basement, it's also the only movie ever to really show the people in the jury, this scene show their emotions, their anger, their hatred to this man. Peter Lorre is fantastic as the killer, but the best performance, in my opinion, goes to Gustaf Gründgens as the crime boss and the ''judge'' of the ''court house''. So if you see it somewhere, check it out.

Rating: Thumbs way up !
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Format: VHS Tape
This is, hands down, one of the best movies ever made. I think it was Peter Lorre's first lead role. He plays a psychopath, a murderer of children in Berlin in the 20s or 30s, an era in which the underworld had as much or maybe more power in running the city as did the police and civic officials. When the police crack down on the criminals in an attempt to catch the killer (who has the city held in terror for the safety of their children), the bad guys realize that they've got to find this nut case so they can get back in business again.
The movie, to me, is remarkable for how much terror and horror it can display without showing one single piece of violence. All the nasty stuff occurs off camera: a child buys a balloon, the child enters a forest with Lorre, and as the child's mother endlessly calls her name out a window overlooking a deserted street, we see the balloon rise skyward from the forest.
Absolutely amazing film - and trust me: you'll never hear the music of the Peer Gynt Suite again without thinking of this film.
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Format: DVD
M (Fritz Lang, 1931)
It has been said that behind every crime story ever committed to film lies the shadow of M. That may well be true, though Lang (and others) were making crime dramas long before this (the first Dr. Mabuse movie was made nine years previous, for example). Still, there is a great deal here to warrant the speculation.
Loosely based on the story of Fritz Haarmann, the Werewolf of Dusseldorf (whose story was also the basis for the more recent Tenderness of the Wolves), M is the story of a child murderer, Franz Becker (the screen debut of the astonishing Peter Lorre), and the simultaneous attempts by the police and a crime syndicate to track him down. The suspense builds quickly (perhaps too quickly; the restored version, released in 2000, is almost twenty minutes shorter than Lang's original theatrical release) as Becker tries to evade both the law and the criminals while plying his trade.
The film might have been a simple crime thriller, above average but not really rising head and shoulders above the crowd (in the same way, for example, Hitchcock's The Thirty-Nine Steps is enjoyable, but it's not Psycho or North by Northwest) but for one thing: Peter Lorre. He almost sleepwalks through the first three-quarters of the film in an air of perfect menace, uttering perhaps three lines throughout. Then, in the final quarter, when pressed to the wall, he unleashes a stream of monologues so perfectly acted and inexpressibly brilliant that the viewer can do nothing but stand in awe of Lorre's power to both act like a man in fear of his life and engender the sympathies of film viewers everywhere at the same time, despite our knowledge of his guilt.
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