1931 serial killer movie 'M' (spoilers probable)

What an engaging movie! I admit I tend to avoid black and whites but I’m glad it’s not a hard-and-fast rule because this was worth it.

The movie is about a pedophile/serial killer. The entire city is up in arms about the killer, and the cops are out at all hours dealing with him, rousting any and all criminals, harassing people, both honest and not.

The criminal element of the city decides enough is enough - that they are not going to have their own work interrupted by this animal, and decide to capture him themselves. They set all the beggars in the city after him.

A race starts between the cops and the criminals to catch him - though the cops are not aware the criminals are involved - and the pedophile is unaware of both.

Seriously if it wasn’t for the b&w I’d think I was watching a movie made today. The same panic, the same feelings in the populace, amongst the cops, the same frustration. Attacking random men for having the gall to even speak to a child, and yet some are blissfully unaware. A kangaroo court, questions about who is fit to judge the pedophile. Is it really the people who commit crimes voluntarily? After all, some would say the pedophile can’t help it. And they certainly addressed that issue.

A truly good movie. It was also one of the first to use a leitmotif - the serial killer whistles the tune “The Hall of the Mountain King” and is eventually identified by it by a blind beggar.

“Who knows what it’s like to be me?”

I have it here on tape (yes, I said tape) but I haven’t watched it for ten years.

It really was the movie that delivered Peter Lorre.

One of my earliest threads.

Another discussion from some years ago.

Thank you, I just skimmed through those threads. There are some points in there that say what I wanted to say: namely, that it has not dated, and that ‘M’ had a subtlety and a nuance you don’t often see in villains/criminals.

I don’t agree with Stranger in the other thread; I thought the movie was very good. Yes, it moved slow, but lots of movies of the time move slow, and continued to do so for many years. I watched Cool Hand Luke a couple of weeks ago and that one moves incredibly slow, too, but it was also very good.

Thanks for starting this, Anaamika- I agree with you. It’s a terrific, suspenseful movie, and it uses much more subtlety than a similar movie would probably have today.

It’s one of the classics of film, and Lorre’s performance was one of the best ever.

Great movie! And no doubt the smokiest movie every produced.

The Towering Inferno has nothing on *M *when it comes to smoke.

Seriously! The clouds of smoke the Inspector produced by chain-smoking CIGARS. Whoa. He literally had to wave away clouds so he could see where he was going!

You need to watch the original Dr Mabusemovie as well, Criterion has it. Same excellent script and filming.

FWIW, M is my absolutely favorite movie ever

I’ve never watched this film, but after this thread I’m going to seek it out and watch. Sounds good.

I’m willing to bet that’s not exactly what you meant to say. :slight_smile:

Put it in my Queue

And, speaking of “Dr. Mabuse,” that brings up another one of my early threads, when I noticed one of the German actors saying, “OK.” It was interesting to me that the term was in use in Europe so closely after The Great War.

Since then, I’ve heard various (Asian) Indians with varying first languages conversing among themselves, and catching a sporadic “OK.” I’ve also heard it in Arabic, so I’d guess it’s safe to say that a good portion of the world today understands it.

Have you actually paid attention to the dialog in M?

I have, as I said it is my absolute favorite movie ever.

The people speak naturally - look at the denizens of the bar when Lohman is coming - they tease him ‘Lohman, Lohman, Fatig Lohman…’ and his reply ‘Nu Nu, kinder …’ there is a mutual respect there. You can see it reflected in his actions. They gig one crook … he looks hopeful that he got away with his forged papers, Frohman just tells him ‘Alix’ [telling him he is going to the police station on the Alekzanderplatz].

The bum telling the other bum to ‘stop snoring, you will wake up the lice’ - the buns and crooks are shown to be normal people just with an illegal job.

Or the murderers line: It’s there all the time, driving me out to wander the streets, following me, silently, but I can feel it there. It’s me, pursuing myself! I want to escape, to escape from myself! But it’s impossible. I can’t escape, I have to obey it. I have to run, run… endless streets. I want to escape, to get away! And I’m pursued by ghosts. Ghosts of mothers and of those children… they never leave me. They are always there… always, always, always!, except when I do it, when I… Then I can’t remember anything. And afterwards I see those posters and read what I’ve done, and read, and read… did I do that? But I can’t remember anything about it! But who will believe me? Who knows what it’s like to be me? How I’m forced to act… how I must, must… don’t want to, must! Don’t want to, but must! And then a voice screams! I can’t bear to hear it! I can’t go on! I can’t… I can’t…

Did anybody mention that you can get it online at Prelinger Archive?

Great film. I just streamed it from Netflix a couple weeks ago.

If I’m not mistaken, it’s the earliest movie out there that shows an in-depth police investigation.

It was inspired by the real-life exploits of serial killer Peter Kurten, known as “The Dusseldorf Vampire”.

According to what you said, I don’t have to. It uses the same script as Dr. Mabuse.

Fabulous movie, one of Fritz Lang’s best. It certainly still holds up, and Peter Lorre’s performance is simply magical.

I missed the edit window, but I should add this. Having just read through the other threads, it strikes me as strange that no one has pointed this out yet. I first saw the film in a German Cinema class in college, and one of the key points the professor made sure we paid attention to was this: all of the clues that the police use to track down Lorre are visual (e.g. the pencil writing on the bumpy desk), while the clues that the criminals follow ( like the whistling) are based entirely on sound. It’s a fairly simple idea these days, but in 1931 it was pretty amazing.

referring to the QUALITY. Stop being stupid about it. If it was a remake, I would have called it a remake.