Write descriptive essay about M movie 1931, write an essay of at least 500 words on M, 5 paragraph essay on M, definition essay, descriptive essay, dichotomy essay.
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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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...
"M" = Mesmerizing!
Fritz Lang's "M" took me by surprise completely! It is one of those amazing motion pictures which holds the audience in their grasp and never lets go. And when it is finally over, it refuses to exit the mind and forces the viewer to constantly think about what he/she has just seen! I wasn't expecting much, but I was more than satisfied when I was finished with this timeless classic. I have watched countless films, but this is one story that is definitely unique. It is one of those films which will leave the viewer in two minds about who to sympathize with..and puts him/her in (for lack of a better expression) a true moral dilemma! Peter Lorre delivers a bravura performance as a child murderer who is the center of this whole drama involving everyone from the police to the families who lose their children to even the underworld! That is pretty much all that can be said about the plot of this gem which has to be seen to be believed.

This also happens to be Lang's first talkie film and is probably one of the greatest films ever made about a pathological serial killer.

True, due to the era it was released in(1931), it lacks some of the finesse that is used in "creating" a motion picture in today's times. But that hardly mars the overall viewing experience. There are some great movie moments, masterfully shot sequences and nail-biting proceedings in the narrative combined with great display of acting from Peter Lorre, as mentioned earlier, along with some commendable supporting acts from Otto Wernicke as Inspector Lohmann and Gustaf Gründgens as Schränker.

Go ahead and rent/buy this and treat yourself to a wholly satisfying movie experience! Highly recommended!
Fritz Lang's Masterpiece
Fritz Lang was one of those remarkable directors who not only gracefully transitioned from work on silent films into the world of talkies, but also continued to develop styles and techniques that would become mainstays in the years to come. The difference between M and one of his earlier silent films, such as Metropolis, is striking. While the latter compensated for technical limitations with heavy acting and visually appealing sets, the former was driven by comparatively rich dialogue and developed its plot in a way that might seem familiar and appealing even to modern audiences. Lang used the recent addition of a soundtrack to great effect leading up to the climax as the killer, played by Peter Lorre, came to be identified with a particular whistled tune. Lorre's desperate plea for clemency would have been difficult or impossible to capture using intertitles and hand gestures, but Lang made it one of the most powerful and memorable scenes in his first talkie. This new technology allowed Lang to develop an entire cast of characters whose machinations and quirks made this movie unforgettable.
A Terrifying Masterpiece.
I have no words to describe Fritz Lang's masterpiece M. It is brimmed with suspense that will make you shiver throughout. Peter Lorre's performance in all is mind-boggling, in one particular scene he describes how he cannot help killing children and it is a masterful moment, the actor who went on to feature in Casablanca and the Maltese Falcon makes M, seventy-fourth on the IMDb Top 250. It has immediately jumped into my top ten favourite films of all time, joining Cinema Paridiso in foreign films, which are films I don't usually like, but yet the most firm hater of foreign films must be drawn to a film like M. Fritz Lang is a film genius and I will continue to love this film, I have also been asked to watch another Fritz Lang film, Metropolis, so here I come!
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.
Peter Lorre's star-making film
Peter Lorre stars in "M," a 1931 German Expressionist film directed by Fritz Lang.

I saw a restored version of this film -- apparently over the years it has been being pieced together when new sections are found. This ran 111 minutes.

Lorre plays a child murderer (and probably molester, though that isn't stated) who is terrorizing a town in Germany and writing to the police and to the press.

Believe it or not, with such a serious and daring subject, the film actually has some humor. When the police can't get the murderer, a group of burglars, angry at all the extra security and difficulties the murderer has caused them, decide they have to get him themselves. They round up beggars, who are everywhere and not noticed, and the burglars watch them. Each person is responsible for a section of the city.

The acting is marvelous. Lorre is magnificent as a pathetic man who has a compulsion to kill. The other actors are wonderful as well. Due to the difference in acting styles today, the audience laughed in a couple of places that were not meant to be laughed at. That's understandable.

The film has sections which are completely silent, with no music.

The end of the film is a little abrupt, but nevertheless effective.

This is a true masterpiece from the hand of Fritz Lang, who also co-wrote the script. The print was excellent as well, and the film is in German with English subtitles.

It was important to see the newly found pieces of the film, though I'm not sure how much it added.

Definitely a film to see with Peter Lorre's great performance that made him a star.
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 ….
M-1931: Where Fritz Lang bares the soul and psychology of the child-killer.
This is, unequivocally, a psychological thriller that all films buffs must see. I've now seen it three times, but I'm certain to see it again.

The fictional character of Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) is based upon a real-life serial killer who stalked the streets of Dusseldorf. Fritz Lang, the director, had read an article about that killer and constructed this thrilling story that relates how Beckert is finally brought to justice.

The film opens with a sequence that establishes the latest disappearance of a small girl, Elsie Beckmann (Inge Landgut), with her mother (Ellen Widmann) waiting and waiting, and finally calling anxiously for Elsie from her apartment window, set high in the lower-class tenement block. The expected hue and cry ensues at yet another ghastly murder; the citizens are again outraged that the murderer is still loose; the police are stumped for clues; and, most importantly, the well-connected criminal bosses in the city are angry – because the police step up raids across the city trying to find the killer and, in that process, prevent them from continuing their criminal activities. So, they decide to find the murderer themselves and get rid of him…

And, to compound the dramatic irony, Lang has the police launch a massive manhunt, across the county, for all men with a history of mental illness. As a result of that search, the file on Beckert turns up, and so the police set up a stake-out at his apartment when clues there substantiate their suspicions.

Hence, both sides of the law are frantically trying to find Beckert, but for very different reasons. The question is: who will get to him first?

The narrative then moves on to where Beckert is currying favor with his next little victim, when he is spotted by one of the city's criminal low-life, who then follows him around to make sure it's the killer he's found. Satisfied, the man cleverly marks Beckert on his overcoat, with a large, white M, and then runs off to raise the alarm and get help from the rest of the gang.

Thereafter, it's a three-way race: Beckert finds the mark on his back and runs to ground, to hide in a large office block, but not before the criminals see him enter the building; the criminal gangs then assemble a large force that breaks into that block after hours to find him; and the police, alerted by a tripped alarm from the office block, finally rush over to find only one criminal still there, ironically forgotten by his friends.

The sequence in the office block, with Beckert trying to stay hidden, while the searchers get closer with each passing minute, is one of the most suspenseful – and quasi-comedic – actions ever put to film. Years later, Ray Milland appeared in The Big Clock (1948) with a very similar setting which, in turn, was remade with Kevin Costner and Gene Hackman in No Way Out (1987) – and both of which I'm sure owe much to Lang's superior effort with M.

It's a great visual story (reason enough to see it, in my opinion), but it's also Germany's first talking film. And, to say anymore about the narrative would spoil it, if you haven't seen it yet.

What's equally great is Lang's filming and direction, using light/dark; high and low angle shots; shot-reverse shot; voice-over narration that matched remote action (a first in cinema); and sequences that tell a story with no words; and all with the consummate originality and skill of a master practitioner. Little wonder that this film constantly ranks within the top 100 of all time.

Special mention must also be given to Peter Lorre, an actor unknown to Hollywood at the time of release. His portrayal of a child-killer is flawless. For the first hour, he hardly says a word, his looks and actions doing more than enough to show his character. Only after he is trapped in the office block does he break his silence, and with devastating effect. Lang then does the unthinkable, almost: he shows Beckert's psychology and vulnerability, with exquisite irony, to the extent that the viewer begins to feel sympathy for the worst of the worst. It's an unforgettable narrative achievement. (In contrast, who has ever felt any real sympathy for Norman Bates, the psychopath from Psycho [1960]?)

Interestingly, when Lorre did get to Hollywood, he appeared in a film called The Stranger on the third floor (1940), in which he again played the part of a psychopathic killer, this time of women. And, of course, who can forget his droll portrayal as Dr Herman Feinstein in Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)?

The rest of the cast for M is more than adequate; in fact, I understand that Lang actually used a number of real criminals during shots of the criminal gangs, and especially during the final act. I was particularly taken with the boss of the criminal gangs, Schränker (Gustaf Grundgens) and the two main policemen of this story, Inspectors Lohmann and Groeber (Otto Wernicke and Theodor Loos, respectively).

Some reviewers exhibit frustration with what appears to be an ambiguous end. Considering the times, however, I think there's little doubt about the outcome. You'll have to make your own assessment, obviously.

Highest recommendation for all.
Any film noir should kneel before this film
Years before David Fincher was even born and about a decade before the genre of ''film noir'' was officially ''invented'' Fritz Lang made a movie about the manhunt of a child killer. A film that was approached with criticism then and it's discussed even today from people for it's harsh theme.What makes this movie amazing is first of all Lang's amazing directing and especially his sound design. Being his first sound film Lang handles sound so good so he puts you instantly into the feeling of this movie. With a lot of influence from the silent era which he uses it to built thrill and atmosphere he uses music in the form of whistle but also excessive sounds in a time where sound in film was not yet fully accepted by the people. And he wins his bet. Almost 90 years later this movie doesn't feel old at all. Maybe it's the directing, maybe the theme which is dealing with (murder and it's punishment) or maybe even because of the amazing acting from it's actors especially by Peter Lorre a by then well known comical actor. ''M'' is not the cleverest movie ever made. In fact is a little bit goofy in some parts (for example when the killer is marked with the letter ''M'' and he is pursued by the beggars he doesn't get rid off the marked coat. And the fact that he was acknowledged by a blind man near the end of the film is almost funny). But it's an amazing movie if you consider the way and the time that it was created and also the message that it wants to pass. Is it really a movie that glorifies murder or a film that wants to say that even the most hideous ''animals'' can have a second chance in the name of the law. Whatever anyone understands from this doesn't change the fact that Fritz Lang's first speaking film is a masterpiece of film making way better than most of the noir film that followed after it.
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.
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