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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 8 months ago by martin czernatowicz

versus
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. The police are so obsessed with catching him and are everywhere. This prevents the other criminals like pickpocketers and burgalrs from doing their criminal activity so they team up and enlist...
Published on April 2 2004 by Ted


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5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, Nov. 28 2013
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This review is from: M - 2 Disc Special Edition - (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
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
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not much of a thriller, but what a movie !, May 5 2011
By 
David M. Goldberg (Toronto, ON, Canada) - See all my reviews
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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. His analysis is larded with wit, cynicism and satire, covering all aspects of the issue with all-embracing thoroughness, and he presents all sides so objectively that we never really know the nature of his own opinions and agenda. This is not surprising when we call up the fascinating extras included in this excellent Criterion package that reveal what a liar and dissembler this great artist was in his own life. But what an artist! The cunningly angled shots of sinister streets and buildings; the close-ups of individuals revealing almost every emotion that the human face is capable of displaying; the scenes of crowds moved by fear, anger, suspicion like a pack of animals; all of these skills are deployed to build up excitement and tension in the viewer as no film-maker achieved before or since, no matter how much blood and violence were lavished on the attempt. Much is made of Lang's role as a fore-runner of Hitchcock, but in my view this is not accurate in the sense that Lang was so far ahead that the latter never really caught up.In summary, we should all be grateful to Criterion for making available a remarkable piece of cinematic history so fresh and well-preserved that it comes across as history made contemporary.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The first serial-killer in the history of cinema, Aug. 6 2009
By 
F. Desbiens - See all my reviews
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This review is from: M - 2 Disc Special Edition - (The Criterion Collection) (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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4.0 out of 5 stars Did Alfred Hitchcock have a mentor?, June 2 2004
By 
JOHN GODFREY (Milwaukee ,WI USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: M (VHS Tape)
If he did it could have been Fritz Lang & his seminal talkie, M, made in 1931 & released in 1933. A deranged child murderer is loose in the city (played broadly & wonderfully by "newcomer," Peter Lorre).
The movie has scenes pitting citizen v. citizen, in accusations & counter accusations, near lynchings & mob hysteria. The police seem helpless & bereft of clues. Organized crimes seeks to find the murderer also. He's bad for business.
Crowd mentality is examined. It is a theme Lang returns to in later movies. His first American movie, Fury , (1936) deals with vigilantism & mob rule. This version, a poor print by the way, has English subtitles so your forced to pay attention. It was Lang's favorite film. It is a prototype, if you will, of the murder mystery genre. Kind of a precursor to Hitchcock's thrillers of the 40's & 50's.
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3.0 out of 5 stars an excellent film, poor print. wait until late 2004 to buy, April 2 2004
By 
Ted "Ted" (Pennsylvania, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: M (The Criterion )Collection (DVD)
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. The police are so obsessed with catching him and are everywhere. This prevents the other criminals like pickpocketers and burgalrs from doing their criminal activity so they team up and enlist the help of beggars and the "underworld" to find and apprehend the murderer.
This Criterion DVD, now temoraraily out of print, has bad picture quality but still is a good film.
Later this year the DVD will be rereleased with far better picture quality and special features which this version does not have. This edition has no special features of any kind. I will put up a new review when the new version is released.
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5.0 out of 5 stars New Edition Coming Out, March 22 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: M (The Criterion )Collection (DVD)
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 features. So wait for that one- don't buy it yet!
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5.0 out of 5 stars ..., March 2 2004
By 
Michael R Gates (Nampa, ID United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: M (The Criterion )Collection (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. That being the case, it is no surprise to learn that Lang employed actual Berlin residents and real-life members of the city's criminal underground to fill several supporting roles.
M is also notable as the film that launched Peter Lorre into the international spotlight. Lorre's gutwrenchingly emotive portrayal of a human monster who is unable to control his evil, deviant sexual impulses is nothing short of stellar. Unfortunately, this performance also resulted in his being typecast, and it was afterwards difficult for him to secure roles outside of the noir or horror genres, even after his emigration to Hollywood.
Released the same year as Tod Browning's classic Lugosi vehicle, DRACULA, M is actually the scarier of the two. Although Lang's intention was for M to reflect the decaying and diseased society that WAS Germany during the years that culminated with World War II, it reflects just as poignantly the anger, violence, and social ambiguity so prevalent in today's world. And that is very frightening indeed.
The Criterion Collection DVD offers a visually stunning restored version of M in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and at its original 111-minute running time. The disc plays the film with the original German-language soundtrack, but optional English subtitles are available. Unlike many Criterion discs, there are no additional bonus features, but the opportunity to watch this remarkable and historic film as its legendary director intended makes amazon.com's less-than-suggested-retail price very reasonable. Definitely a must-see for students of cinema, aficionados of classic films, and fans of the noir or thriller genres.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential, Feb. 5 2004
By 
C. Rubin (San Leandro, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: M (The Criterion )Collection (DVD)
I wonder why Criterion skimped on their usual great extras for this release, but the print quality is remarkable and so is the movie.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ten. Do not fail to watch this old, old movie masterpiece, Feb. 3 2004
By 
Peggy Vincent "author and reader" (Oakland, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: M (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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4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful (if historically inaccurate)., Dec 22 2003
This review is from: M (The Criterion )Collection (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. (As a side note, this is one of the many differences between Franz Becker and Fritz Haarmann; the latter was quite happy to die, at anyone's hands, instead of going back to an insane asylum. He protested not at all on his own behalf, after his capture.)
It might also be said that behind every criminal trial since also lies the shadow of M, as the contents of Lorre's monologues are now standard defenses in criminal trials around the world every day. But try not to hold that against this compelling, awe-inspiring film. ****
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