M (1931) IMDB Top 250 Review

I’ve finally done my own IMDB Top 250 review! ๐Ÿ™‚ After this week, only one more guest review will be posted then they’ll no longer be posted regularly every Tuesday. I’ll do my own sometimes but will continue to post guest reviews if & when I receive them. If you’ve signed up for any, feel free to send them to me & I’ll post them right away. Now let’s have a look at Fritz Lang’s M… 

M (1931) (German: M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Mรถrder โ€” “M – A city looks for a murderer”)

IMDB Rank: 52 out of 250 on 01/01/13

Directed by Fritz Lang

Starring: Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Gustaf Grรผndgens

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt.

My Opinion:

I know I started this IMDB Top 250 project as a way to force myself to finally watch a lot of classic films that I had yet to see but I’ve been very lazy about reviewing any the past couple of years, especially as I’ve had so many guest reviews to post. I’m glad I started it as I’ve discovered some films that I now adore: things like Charlie Chaplin’s movies and a surprising amount of war movies such as The Bridge On The River Kwai, which I never expected to like so much. But it’s been difficult with a few as, while I can understand why they’re so highly regarded, they just didn’t work for me. One of these was On The Waterfront so I’ve been putting off reviewing that for a year now. I’ll still eventually say something about every Top 250 film I watch but some may be multiple quickie reviews like I’ve been doing lately. I’ll get back to doing more of these myself again in the New Year. I’m just saying that, you know, don’t expect all of them to be “quality” reviews as I have surprisingly little to say about some of these classics. Not that anyone has come to expect any quality reviews from me anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The point of all my rambling is this:  M is excellent and definitely deserves its place in the Top 250 but it’ll never exactly be a favorite film of mine as I’ve never been a big fan of the crime genre. I’ll talk about it a little bit, though, as some of you would probably like it a lot and I do love to bring attention to films that deserve it. And nothing makes me happier than when someone decides to watch a movie after I’ve done a post about it!

I figured I could do this as part of my October Horror thing since it’s a movie about a child killer. This is the sort of topic I’d normally avoid watching but I had no choice if I’m going to ever finish this project. Besides – it’s a movie from 1931 so I knew it would probably handle things in a respectful way & of course not be graphic in any way. If I’m going to watch a movie like this, I’d rather watch one from 1931 instead of some nasty modern day True Detective-style crime story. Sorry – I don’t normally like crime films, particularly ones about murderers, and I never have for some reason. Give me sci-fi & fantasy! (Metropolis is the Fritz Lang movie I really should have watched by now instead. I’m so ashamed…)

That M poster is awesome, though. Look at it! God they had so much more style in the old days. Although it could be a new design – what the hell do I know? And the scene involving the M on the hand was pretty damn great (I did wonder if there would actually be an M on someone’s hand). This movie is a pain in the ass to Google, though, being just one letter. Guess it’ll go at the start of the letter M in my movie review index! Which reminds me – I’d reviewed a movie for every single letter on this blog other than Q and it was really annoying me so I was planning to do Quadrophenia at some point. Then I watched & reviewed the thoroughly boring The Quiet Ones a couple of weeks ago & it didn’t even register that I’d finally done a Q movie until I put it in the index. Dammit!!! What a wasted opportunity – that movie sucked. Off topic again? Sorry!

Review actually starts NOW!

Crime films may not be my favorite genre but M is a truly excellent example of one and I’d strongly recommend it to fans of this sort of thing (someone like Zoe – I know you like your crime & detective books, Zoe!). It’s, I’m assuming, one of the very first of its type and certainly one of the very best (in my limited experience). From a filmmaking standpoint, of which I know absolutely nothing, there are some amazing shots in this that will forever remain in my mind. Ones such as this:


(Hmm – was the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV show opening an homage to this??)

And this, which I couldn’t find a great image of, but it’s from a fabulous scene in front of a mirror shop. Very cool use of the reflections:

Plus a couple others that I won’t share as they’re big plot spoilers…

I’ll admit that the movie did drag a couple of times (for me) when the investigation was underway & detectives were doing all they could to try to figure out who the killer was. It was fascinating, though, as they were using handwriting & fingerprint analysis – it was such a different world back then and it must have been so hard to track down a serial killer. I have to say, though, that this movie feels very ahead of its time in many ways so don’t avoid it just because it’s from 1931. It’s weird to think that this is from a time when Charlie Chaplin was still making silent films (City Lights also came out in 1931) as M is a “talkie”. It feels more like the 1940’s crime films such as Hitchcock’s Shadow Of A Doubt or The Maltese Falcon (also starring Peter Lorre).

Speaking of Lorre, he’s fantastic as the murderer in this (I’ve not given anything away there – this is one of those movies where the audience knows the killer). I don’t watch as many older films as I should so, while I know Lorre’s name, I can’t say I remember him in either The Maltese Falcon or Casablanca as I barely remember those films now. I know, I know – I saw them at a very young age! I’ve been meaning to re-watch Casablanca for years & I especially want to now after seeing Lorre in this. This may sound weird but he has such a great face for this role. He’s totally believable (if that’s a good thing? I read that he was often typecast as a villain after this movie). This movie also sort of explores the psychological aspect and whether a criminal has control over their actions or not, which again made the movie feel ahead of its time. The only one slight downer is that there’s a little bit of blame placed on the murdered childrens’ mothers for “not watching them well enough”. Well, it was 1931… It was a different time!

Summary:

M is one of those movies I appreciated even more after thinking about it for a while and as I wrote this review (I watched it about a month ago). Certain scenes are so iconic and I’ll never again hear Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King without thinking of this movie, in which the song is used in such a memorably haunting way. Peter Lorre is fantastic and, while the middle dragged a little as the investigation was underway, the ending more than made up for it. I absolutely loved the direction the film took in the manhunt for the murderer. I highly recommend M to fans of the crime thriller genre and fully admit that it deserves to be one point higher than my rating but, as always, my ratings are based more on my own personal enjoyment of a movie. Now I really should watch Metropolis as it looks more like my type of thing – it’s ridiculous that I haven’t!

My Rating: 7.5/10

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21 thoughts on “M (1931) IMDB Top 250 Review

  1. As you probably guessed, I did like this more than you. But I like your rambling intros and how you give a film a rating based on your own opinion, not what others think. Promise me you won’t change, Mutant ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Glad you liked this, even if it dragged a little bit! I love this one, Fritz Lang is the best. The visuals are amazing for 1931, and the use of shadows is so cool. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Metropolis, that one’s a must-see!

    • Thanks, Anna! I’m very glad I finally checked it out even though the genre isn’t totally my type of thing. Yes, amazing visuals! I’ll definitely be watching Metropolis soon as well – I believe it’s actually on TV next week. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. This absolutely belongs on the classic films list. So does Metropolis. To get the full flavor of Metropolis, avoid the revised edition from several years ago with the rock soundtrack. It’s not bad but the original is still the way to see it.

    • Yes, I can see why this is so high in the IMDB Top 250. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think I have that Metropolis rock soundtrack version somewhere (was it with Queen music?). I want to see the proper version – I know old films like this have more than one version & it’s hard to know which one to watch. It’s on TV next week – I’ll record it & see which version that one is.

  4. I like crime movies so I loved M, but still I agree that it can drag a bit in the middle. Considering it’s Old, though, there are far worse examples. It actually stands up very well today — you’re so right about it being ahead of its time.

    The poster is from the original release, I believe, but they’ve sort of ‘remastered’ it for re-releases. It’s a stunning image, though. So simple, really, but so evocative.

    Similarly, M as a title. Simple, iconic, utter bitch to find stuff to read up on!

    • Lol! Yep – utter bitch to look up. I kept putting “Fritz Lang M”. ๐Ÿ˜‰ And this really was ahead of its time! Hard to believe it’s from 1931. Glad I made myself watch it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Great review! This film was so bold, daring and ahead of it’s time for a movie of this subject matter. Nice work, Glad you appreciated this one ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I loved this film. I just thought it was wonderfully well done with some stunning imagery and a great central performance. If you like Lorre you should (re)watch Arsenic and Old Lace. He only has a small role but plays it to perfection.

    • Hmm. Don’t think I ever watched that one at all! He has such a weird face. He’s cool, though. I remember your review of this! Think I said something about how I wanted to watch it. Glad I did. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Pingback: Happy Halloween! My Horror Month Roundup | Cinema Parrot Disco

  8. Pingback: A Separation (2011) IMDB Top 250 Review & The Films I’ve Watched So Far (Ranked!) | Cinema Parrot Disco

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