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

Peter Lorre , Ellen Widmann , Fritz Lang , William Friedkin    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
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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

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

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not much of a thriller, but what a movie ! May 5 2011
By David M. Goldberg TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
In my view, most reviews of this film have it all wrong. A crime thriller it most certainly is not. There is no thrill to be had in the discovery of the criminal since his identity is generously revealed in the very earliest frames. Not a trace of horror is generated by the murder itself since we are never allowed to see it. A balloon floating skyward is the only hint we are given of its enactment. Instead of murderer and victim, the protagonists that generate the compassion, the hatred and the anger of Lang's singular masterpiece are two competing systems of morality, one favouring the victim and the other the perpetrator. The final 'shoot-out' takes place in the grim warehouse to which M is brought by the criminals who have caught him in revenge for ruining their profession, and is 'tried' by a judicial process that in many ways comprises more of the elements of true justice than the conventional trial that follows when the hitherto inept Police interrupt the impending execution and drag him before the strong arm of the Law, where a parade of lawyers and psychiatrists mouth the usual meaningless platitudes that result in his acquittal by reason of insanity, to the dismay of the grieving parents of his 14 or so victims. The crooks seemingly got it right: they, after all, and not the Heidelberg-educated jurists and medics were his 'true peers', whose opinions are proudly supposed to count most in the traditional legal systems of Western Democracies.
Lang's main concern and his seminal triumph is to explore the impact of crime and a failure of retribution upon various layers of Society: Criminals, Police, Politicians, and the Public at large.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ... March 2 2004
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
5.0 out of 5 stars The first serial-killer in the history of cinema Aug. 6 2009
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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
Saw this years ago at a repertoire theatre, was really impressed with the story, acting and photography, so much better
now since it's alteration by criterion
Published 10 months ago by martin czernatowicz
4.0 out of 5 stars Did Alfred Hitchcock have a mentor?
If he did it could have been Fritz Lang & his seminal talkie, M, made in 1931 & released in 1933. Read more
Published on June 2 2004 by JOHN GODFREY
5.0 out of 5 stars Murderous Molester Meets Mob Mentality...
While watching this story unfold, I found myself on quite a rollercoaster ride of emotion. First, I hated Beckert (Peter Lorre's character) for luring innocent little girls to... Read more
Published on April 29 2004 by Bindy Sue Frønkünschtein
5.0 out of 5 stars Film as Allegory
"M", Fritz Lang's ingenious story of the hunt for a child molester, is a remarkable snapshot of civilized German society at the moment predating its collapse. Read more
Published on April 12 2004 by anonymous
3.0 out of 5 stars an excellent film, poor print. wait until late 2004 to buy
This review is for the Criterion Collection (1st edition) of the film.
This movie is Fritz Lang's first "talkie" and an excellent film about a serial child murderer. Read more
Published on April 2 2004 by Ted
5.0 out of 5 stars New Edition Coming Out
Criterion is taking this DVD out-of-print, and then releasing a new edition at the end of 2004, with a pristine transfer from newly restored film elements and a bunch of special... Read more
Published on March 21 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars dated
Maybe this shocked in its day, but it's terribly dated, with long dialogue scenes that could have been condensed way down. Read more
Published on March 16 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars The 1st Film Noir
"M" is the story of a child killer in 1930s Germany. A group of police and mafia begin a race for the killer, and mob catches him first, all ending in a court room of sorts. Read more
Published on March 7 2004 by Vagabond77
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't buy this yet...
The movie is brilliant, as many others have said, so I won't go into that here.
I am posting to warn people not to buy 'M' yet. Read more
Published on March 3 2004 by Elliot Cross
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential
I wonder why Criterion skimped on their usual great extras for this release, but the print quality is remarkable and so is the movie.
Published on Feb. 4 2004 by C. Rubin
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