Friday, January 1, 2010

59. M (1931)

Running Time: 109 minutes
Directed By: Fritz Lang
Written By: Egon Jacobson, Fritz Lang
Main Cast: Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Gustaf Grundgens


This actually isn't the first time I've seen M, as I actually saw it for the first time about a year or so ago and remember liking it very much, eventhough at the time, it was one of the oldest movies I had ever seen. My reaction didn't change much upon another viewing, in fact it really didn't change at all, as I still think this is a really great film.

When little Elsie Beckmann doesn't return home from school at her expected time, her mother begins to worry and rightfully so. You see, the particular German town that we're focussed on for this movie is crippled with fear as a murderer looms in the shadows, preying on the children of the city. And little Elsie Beckmann is no exception, as we, the viewer, soon see that she is just the latest in a string of child victims to be picked up by this killing monster. Upon buying her a balloon and some chocolates, we're then shown that very balloon floating through the air and the ball that Elsie Beckmann was playing with, rolling around, unclaimed.

Of course, this newest murder swings the city into full on hysteria, as the police plaster talk of a reward for his capture, all over the newspapers and we get a very well constructed montage telling all of the details and the investigation proceedings of the case. While watching this film, you're quickly transported to a city where a murderer is on the loose and this montage does a fantastic job of really hammering that point home and making you realize just how out of hand this killer has become.

The police go so far, as to hassle the petty crooks in the town, the thiefs and pickpockets and what not. The crooks get so tired of being harassed and so tired of not being able to pull of their own jobs, that they get together and decide that they must be the ones to catch this murderer, not to mention the fact, that they are no fans of a murdering man themselves. They want him locked up and executed just as badly as the parents of the deceased young. So the crooks enlist the help of the beggars to help them catch the predator, offering a $15,000 reward of their own for the beggar that can bring him in.

In my opinion "M" deals with some very sensitive subject matter, especially for the year 1931. But that's kind of the thing that makes it really stand out. While many of us are not used to hearing talk of murderers, who abduct, seemingly molest and murder young girls, in the old movies we watch, you get a real surprise when you pop in "M" and start to hear and see the violence that is being alluded to. While nothing is ever actually shown, your imagination really takes hold of you and it's probably a worse picture that you create in your own head, than anything that could've been shown on camera. In my opinion, it's not the acting (eventhough Peter Lorre does a good job), the sets, the cinematography or anything like that, that makes "M" a great picture, but rather the plot. The plot for this flick is so great that you can't helped but be sucked into the heart of a city paralyzed by fear over this gruesome killer.

RATING: 8/10 I deducted a few points, just for some little odds and ends, and mainly because, eventhough this film was great, it still didn't give me that "10" feeling. Still a great watch though!

NEXT UP: La Chienne...or The Bitch, which I currently cannot find, so look for the "Unfound Files" post momentarily.

January 1, 2010 2:54pm

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