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Purchase M (1931) Movie Online and Download - Fritz Lang 🎥
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Film-Noir
IMDB rating:
Fritz Lang
Peter Lorre as Hans Beckert
Ellen Widmann as Frau Beckmann
Inge Landgut as Elsie Beckmann
Otto Wernicke as Inspector Karl Lohmann
Theodor Loos as Inspector Groeber
Gustaf Gründgens as Schränker
Friedrich Gnaß as Franz, the burglar
Fritz Odemar as The cheater
Paul Kemp as Pickpocket with six watches
Theo Lingen as Bauernfänger
Rudolf Blümner as Beckert's defender
Georg John as Blind panhandler
Franz Stein as Minister
Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur as Police chief
Storyline: In Germany, Hans Beckert is an unknown killer of girls. He whistles Edvard Grieg's 'In The Hall of the Mountain King', from the 'Peer Gynt' Suite I Op. 46 while attracting the little girls for death. The police force pressed by the Minister give its best effort trying unsuccessfully to arrest the serial killer. The organized crime has great losses due to the intense search and siege of the police and decides to chase the murderer, with the support of the beggars association. They catch Hans and briefly judge him.
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DVD-rip 528x432 px 1551 Mb mpeg4 1952 Kbps avi Purchase
German vs English versions
If you get this film on BluRay it includes both the German version and an English language version. I watched the original German not realizing at first that they made an English version and that it was included on the BluRay. The subtitles were good but its difficult sometimes for someone like myself who likes to appreciate the visual artistry of a film (framing, lighting, acting etc). So when I noticed that the Blu-Ray included the English version I decided to watch it again. Big mistake! You'll notice right away that the film isn't as good. Most of the English version is just dubbed over but some scenes were actually shot in English. You'd think it would be the same basic film but it wasn't. They edited it differently. Some scenes were cut short. Other shots were left out completely, or changed. The scenes shot in English were noticeable not as good and its thought that the Fritz Lang didn't direct the English parts.

In summary, only watch this film in German.
I can't help what I do! I can't help it, I can't...
We see the beginnings of film noir in Germany's first talking picture. It also has some remnants of German Expressionism. But what is most impressive is the story itself.

Anyone that has followed cases of missing children know what the police go through, and watching this crime/psychological thriller and the search for a child serial killer is just like watching the 6 o'clock news today.

The acting is superb, and the story is compelling. It is not so much about the killer, but about the people's reactions to the fear he has filled them with. Of course, the thieves and prostitutes are too happy either with cops everywhere. It was absolutely hilarious to watch the cops planning how to step up raids while, at the same time across town, the underworld was trying to figure out how to catch the murderer and get back to business.

Both the police and the underworld get a break at the same time. But the underworld has him cornered and things are getting really tense. You cannot image what they do to try and find him. This was the most innovative story I have seen.

The "trial" was magnificent! The print was absolutely perfect and the lighting was superb. The sound was even OK for the first use.

Gustaf Gründgens was superb as the leader of the underworld, Theodor Loos equally so as the head of the police, and Peter Lorre was great as usual.
A Classic
A lot of people have said a lot about this film so I don't really know that I can add that much. However, this is a truly great film and without a doubt an influential classic.

Although the basic story may seem rather tired and common now, people must remember that for 1931 this was a fresh and potent plot. It is thus even a fairly groundbreaking film on that point alone and viewers must keep this in mind when watching it. Moreover, it is handled so well that even today, the film remains very interesting, compelling, and entertaining. It is also fun to see how so many of the basic methods of police/investigative work seen in recent movies are essentially derivatives of the ideas and methods touched on in this much earlier film.

The same is true about the whole idea of the serial killer and exploring his psyche, determining whether he is "insane" or just evil. The film addresses this issue well and one can feel the conflict and stress in Lorre's character even long before the finale in the abandoned brewery.

The film wonderfully builds tension in the characters and their circumstances. Again, this is, naturally, particularly strong with Lorre, such as when he is hiding in the office building.

In addition, the film does much more than deal with an effort to catch a killer, but explores society and the killer's impact on it. It is a brilliant, and even for today very unusual, idea to have the criminals organize to catch the killer. Their motive makes sense and their reaction in handling the situation in the office building and brewery is believable, very entertaining and dramatic, and allows significant commentary on society, how people should act, the meaning of the rule of law, and more. The same is true for the mob hysteria that seems to grip the city during the murders. Thus, this film is about much more than the need to catch the killer, making the story much more rich, meaningful, and enduring.

The use of sound, lighting, and shadows, as well as using commonalities to tie scenes together, etc. is very artistic and effective, in addition to being imaginative, particularly for the time. Others have mentioned it before, but a great example that I love is the fact that we first see Lorre's shadow appear on his own wanted poster and hear him speak before we ever see him. This particularly helps build a sinister sense of foreboding about his appearance.

Anyway, this is a true classic that is so beautifully handled, it is still highly entertaining and satisfying to watch even today.
"L" Before "M"
In an eerie propagandist fashion, the phrase "in the name of the Law" is repeated over the last two scenes of Fritz Lang's "M" as a child killer is brought to justice. If "L" represents the State and the Law, then "M" is meant to represent the Individual (who in this case is a Murderer). Lang boldly asked us way back in 1931, whose rights come first: the State or the Individual? A master of his craft, Lang leaves the question open-ended and let's the audience decide.

"M" is shockingly contemporary in its psychological complexities. It explores the psychology of individualism vs. group think while showcasing how a state of fear can be inflicted upon a populace when a government fails to protect society from a single individual terrorizing the people. The story is fairly straightforward: An elusive citizen begins killing innocent children in a large nameless German city. The media fuels a paranoid frenzy that incites the public. The clueless police begin to raid "the underworld" after the populace is turned into a raving mob because of the failure to capture the killer. "The underworld" comes to a screeching halt as their business is ruined by the police and starts their own manhunt for the killer.

Unlike a modern period piece that attempts to evoke a certain place and time, "M" WAS a certain place and time. Lang, in an almost prophetic sense, captured the state of mind of the German people in 1931 as the Weimar Republic was on the brink of collapse and the Nazi Regime was preparing to take over. When individuals live in a state of fear, as they do in "M", society collapses and the Individual is crushed. Only the State, it seems, can bring order.

"M" is a also a masterpiece for its technical aspects. The way in which Lang uses his camera to move through windows, capture shadows, reflections, empty spaces, and shift points-of-view is staggering even by today's standards. He also played with the new technology of recorded sound with extensive voice-over narration and dialogue used to overlap and transition between scenes. Didn't critics recently praise "Michael Clayton" for utilizing just such a technique as if it was something revolutionary? One can also see a protean style the would eventually birth the Film Noir movement with the creation of tension and suspense in the use of shadows and camera angles.

Yet "M" is not perfect. It has some major flaws. There are no real "characters" in the film to speak of in the modern sense. The film is virtually all built around mood and plot. The only time Lang invites us to emotionally connect is in the opening and closing scenes with a mother of one of the victims, and in the classic scene of Peter Lorre giving his writhing and primal "I can't help it!" speech in front of the kangaroo court of criminals. The mother's grief and Lorre's madness are presented so sparsely and in such a raw form that it becomes too painful to want to connect with them. Another flaw that is often overstated about films from this time period is the slow pace of the early police procedural scenes. These inherent flaws combined with the inherent brilliance of Lang's vision make "M" one of the most challenging films a modern viewer could ever sit through.

What impressed me most about "M" was the subtlety of the symbolism Lang created with his haunting images. As harrowing as the story is, none of the gruesomeness is shown on screen. It's all transmitted to the viewer through the power of suggestion. Is it any wonder Hitler wanted Fritz Lang for his propaganda machine, which thankfully led to Lang fleeing to America? I'll never forget the wide shots of the kangaroo court (and the looks on those people's faces as the killer is brought down the steps for trial) or the vast expanse of that empty warehouse. The scene of the ball rolling in the grass with no one to catch it, the balloon caught in the telephone wires, and the empty domestic spaces the mother has to inhabit after her child has been murdered are the types of scenes that tape into Jungian archetypes and shared fears. The look on Lorre's face as he confesses, the hand of the Law coming down to save Lorre from being lynched, and the ghastly plea from the mother in the final scene will stick with me for the rest of my life.

"M" is a communal nightmare; one that from which we have yet to awake.
This one should definitely be in your private collection
'M' is excellent in every single way. A movie with a magnificent plot. A movie with a superb acting. A movie with an even better filming. It's a masterpiece beyond time, a film so real and absorbing that you wont even stand to go to the bathroom. Lang's movie suggests a lot but says a lot, too. And it can be proved when the Nazis got it forbidden. The way it recreates a chaotic situation in which millions of people are affected because of a single man deeds is simply amazing. It's a movie about misery, and humans at their worst....and maybe a bit at their best. 'M' created a genre (film-noir) and, although being made in 1931, it's a guideline and a FAQ for making this kind of movies. A film that should be seen by many directors nowadays and by all you movies' fans. A classic, simply and totally. It deserves to be in your personal collection.
M is for Murder...
... and H is for hype. For example, "I sat motionless during most of the film, hardly breathing, and my heart pounding; I was practically in tears at the end. This is one of the most terrifying films I have ever seen."

Terrifying? Deary me. This film has to be one of the most overrated in history. The plot, what there is, is pedestrian, the acting dreadful - lots of mugging to the camera from actors who've forgotten it's a talkie - and Lorre's histrionic speech at the end is so melodramatically bad it's almost funny.

The kangaroo court scene is perfunctory to say the least - a few clichés are duly trotted out about a madman not being responsible for his actions - the mob doesn't agree and prepare to lynch Lorre but then the cavalry arrive in shape of the hitherto flat-footed cops and he's saved. Finally some woman tells us to look after the kids and then, in darkness, that means all of us. The end. Righto, point taken.
A great procedural--cum--thriller
The mind—blowing panoramic aspect is obvious—Lang was not going to simply shot a police inquiry, but choose one of Berlin's proportions—all, stuffed with procedural elements and realist approach—and, significantly, not flirting with exploitation—Lang does not, despite what folks say, turn 'M' into a chiller. It is Lorre who indulges a bit in _picturesqueness and histrionics—though his performance constitutes of course a great show, the vividly Expressionistic element of this otherwise realist movie. A police procedural at the scale of a mega-city—this puts a conceptual problem, and Lang solved it by alternating his approaches—first, a city—scale survey—then, in the second half, a suspenseful, hugely thrilling urban thriller—and then a few treats in the form of several actors' recitals. Lang aims at scaring and terrifying, delighting, amusing, informing, thrilling his audiences with his procedural epic—a movie that investigates a whole city of Berlin's scale, a tight ordering of the essential elements of the story.

The pace of 'M' is constantly excellent, yet the movie looks a bit patchy—changing quite suddenly from the panoramic police procedural to the crisp breathless thriller of the Benno Street operation and then to the several recitals—'Lohmann', 'Franz' (--the arrested thug--), and, of course, Lorre, whose performance is stagy but commending. The organic heterogeneity of 'M' is not perhaps a flaw, yet it somehow comes across as a lack and a partial loss of mastery. But the approach is changed and heterogeneous on even another plane—as visual storytelling—because 'M' becomes, slightly, smoothly, a truly sound movie as it progresses, the storytelling resembles less that of the silent flicks.

The general level of the performances is visibly respectable, with the actors using fully their screen—time.

'Lohmann', the tough, crushing and imposing cop, is a great role, and there's a long shot of his penis, from under the desk; the scene of the murderer's branding with chalk is awesome, and the fact that he's tracked down and identified by the middle of the movie.

It seems immediately noticeable that M's artistic logic is, in the first third, essentially that of a silent movie, Lang doesn't really play or juggle with the sound, didn't really make it his own—thought the assassin's signature whistling is an important gimmick, then Lang's approach evolves, he takes heart, the sound is put to full use, it's wonderful to see this; a large part of Lang's career consists in his work as a genre director, he made perhaps more genre movies than any other great director (--except, of course, for Hitchcock, Hawks, Ford and --), and when he tries a more meditative form of cinema he was truly nowhere as good as Murnau or Renoir. Yet Lang's approach in M's first part is strikingly not that of a genre thriller—suspense, atmosphere, action (--though it latter picks up very alertly and becomes a brisk exciting thriller--), instead there's an almost humorous approach, satire elements, and the movie is conceived like a police procedural, an inverted detective story, a how catch'em, as they call these …, with all the focus of a realist drama, and this brings us also to how could Lang's M be tentatively described—as a police procedural realist drama canvas with witty filming devices and comic embroidering for humorous relief, all told from a commonsensical and documentary POV –in a sense, and for the buffs interested in this stuff, Hitchcock's older crime story THE LODGER is Expressionistic to the hilt—but not Lang's M (--I know there are people who have found a reason to live in talking about how Hitchcock learned it all from German Expressionism via Lang whose sets he visited as a youngster, etc.--). But then—rewarding suspense to the hilt! And in a word, 'M' is a police epic, a police procedural epic on Berlin's scale, from a time when the German cinema had something to say ….
Moments of menace..
The economy, austerity and directness of the films of Fritz Lang made him one of the most profound, and precise filmmakers...

Lang, a master of the German expressionist film, shot his first talkie, a crime drama considered a landmark in the story of suspense movies... It was a shocking idea for its time, based on the real-life killer Peter Kurten, headlined as the Vampire of Düsseldorf...

'M' is about a terrorized city, and a plump little man with wide eyes (often chewing candy) who is a pathological child-killer, unable to control his urge for killing...

The film embodies several Lang themes: the duality between justice and revenge, mob hysteria, the menacing anticipation of watching a helplessly trapped individual trying fruitlessly to escape as greater forces move inexorably in, and, for probably the first time in the cinema, it adds a new dimension to suspense: pity... For the killer is clearly mentally sick... He cannot overcome the overwhelming compulsion of his murderous disease, and yet, we see him hunted down and almost lynched as a criminal, rather than treated as a sick man...

Early in the film, the killer is heard whistling the Grieg theme from 'In the Hall of the Mountain King'. This theme inexorably becomes imbued with menace... And when we see no more than a girl looking in a shop window, the melody on the sound-track told us chillingly that the murderer is there, just out of sight...

The Murderer is played by Peter Lorre in a virtuoso performance that has barely been matched in all the thrillers he has made since 'Casablanca,' 'The Maltese Falcon,' and 'The Mask of Dimitrios.' When the photographs of his victims, all little girls, are shown to him, he jumps back and twitches with horror...

With powerful visuals, Lang's motion picture is Lorre's first film... His performance as the corpulent, hunted psychopath is a masterpiece of mime and suggestion... Lorre is the archetypal outsider-outside the law and society because of his compulsive crimes, outside the balancing society of the underworld because he is not a professional criminal... He had only twelve lines of dialog...

In the most famous of all about a pathological killer - Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho' - Anthony Perkins lacked not only the threat of the tortured Peter Lorre, but also the dimension of invoking our incredulous sympathy...

'Psycho' reeked with blood and horror, whereas the suspense of 'M' is subtle... A child's balloon without an owner, a rolling ball, are enough to tell us that another murder had been committed... The audience, trapped in its seats, torn by ambivalent feelings towards the killer, watched him trapped as the net is pulled tight...
German Expressionism at its cinematic best
Being a huge fan of German Expressionist art, I'm naturally drawn to the films of Fritz Lang. I recently was able to see the restored version of "Metropolis" on the big screen, and was delighted to see "M" on the Sundance channel - especially since it was the uncut version. M follows the trail of a child killer (Peter Lorre), sought both by the police and the members of the underworld whose businesses are being effected by the investigation.

This film is ground-breaking for many reasons: It is Fritz Lang's first talking picture, it is one of the first in the serial killer genre and it was overtly anti-Nazi. This film was banned in Germany shortly after it premiered, and Fritz Lang and Peter Lorre, both Jews, soon fled the country. It has superb acting (most notably, Peter Lorre's trial scene in the catacombs) and very stark yet at times gritty cinematography. The story is indeed suspenseful and at times, very creepy (what whistling child killer isn't?). The entire movie, however is extremely thought-provoking and challenging, much like the German Expressionist movement itself.

This is not a movie for everyone; some may find it boring, some may find it too abstract. It also has one of the most bizarre shots I've ever seen in film - essentially it's a 30 second shot of the police inspector talking on the phone, but you're under his desk and looking up his pants leg. It actually kind of baffled me and made me chuckle for a second, but it was avant garde if anything.

To those who appreciate early cinema that truly makes you think, both about the film and the subtext with which it was written and filmed, it is a must-see.

Ahead of its time
This is a very interesting film on so many levels. It's interesting to see just how far ahead German cinema was of its American counterpart at this point in time. Although there is not that much talking in this early German talking picture - Fritz Lang resisted going to sound in the first place - what conversation that does take place is well done and natural sounding. Compare it with any American film from 1931 and you can't help but see the difference.

The murderer, artfully played by Peter Lorre, has been killing children that have no link to him personally for months. The police, despite all of their efforts, are unable to catch him, mainly because there is no rhyme or reason in his choice of victims. At first there is a focus on the victims and the hole left in their families by their killing. Then, the film shifts to two normally opposed groups - the police and the underworld. After several months of no results by the authorities, the police are unhappy because it reflects badly upon them, and the underworld is unhappy because their activities are being disrupted because of the police doing constant raids in their efforts to capture the killer.

In a particularly well-done part of the film the scene shifts back and forth between a conference of police and one of the underworld. They discuss how they are going to catch the killer. The police settle upon the idea of looking for people with a history of past mental problems that were pronounced cured and released. The underworld decides to enlist an invisible group - the beggars - to follow every child at all times and therefore catch the killer. Both groups focus on the right suspect, the question is - who gets there first? M is a fascinating film that raises many topics - the death penalty, a group of criminals that are criminals by choice causing less stress on society than a lone criminal that acts out of an uncontrollable compulsion, and the motivations of the authorities often being their own bureaucratic survival rather than the larger issue of ending a series of horrible acts against humanity.
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