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on August 7, 2015
Amazon's description of this item is inaccurate. It lists the "rare English language version" of the film as a DVD extra, but I received the DVD today and there is no English version to be found. Checking Criterion's site I discovered that the English version appears ONLY on the Blue-ray, not the DVD. So be warned. Otherwise, this is a must have edition of one of the greatest films ever made.
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on January 21, 2012
It's pretty much a foregone conclusion that Fritz Lang's M from 1931 is one of the cinema's greatest treasures. This meticulous study of a pathological child murderer who is sought by both the authorities and the underworld is still chilling even after 80 years. Lang's compelling visual style comes through in each frame as both factions of society close in on the elusive serial killer.

Peter Lorre's arresting, star making performance is really the forerunner of every movie psychotic that followed. The concept of generating sympathy for such a heinous character is just as daring now as it was then, and Lorre brilliantly embodies the psychosis of a child/man doomed with a pre-disposed inclination for murder.

Criterion's Blu-ray edition of this famous classic is a joy to behold. The clarity of the black and white image is beautiful and razor sharp, with consistently fine grain resolution that replicates 35mm film. There's a few instances of minimal wear inherent in the source print, which is understandable for a film of this vintage. The crisp monaural sound reproduction makes us appreciate even better Lang's innovative use of the technology which only arrived four years prior to M.

The array of extras include an intelligent commentary by Anton Kaes and Eric Rentschler, a fascinating and revealing interview with Lang from 1975, an historic look at M and its road to restoration, a gallery of rare photos and production sketches, and a handsome, celebratory booklet. A special bonus is the British version which incorporates dubbing and re-shot scenes with different actors. Lorre, however, replays his entire ending monologue in English.

One of my all-time personal favorites, M is an essential addition to every classic film enthusiast's collection, and this sparkling Blu-ray is as good as it can get.
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on February 21, 2014
Peter Lorre is great as the man who kills children. M is an excellent film. A man is killing children and the police are going after everybody with a record, so the criminals band together to find the killer to get the police off their backs. How these desperate characters work together makes a very compelling and suspenseful story. Directed by Fritz Lang, who also directed the Sifi masterpiece metropolis, does a great job on his first talkie. Shortly after making this film Peter Lorre fled Germany and Fritz Lang followed shortly there after as both men were Jews. I would highly recommend this movie. It is in German with English subtitles, and after a while you don't mind reading them.
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VINE VOICEon January 22, 2007
"Who knows what it's like to be me?"

An anguished cry from a tortured man, one that can't help elicit sympathy, despite the fact that the man in question in a serial killer.

"M" is a revolutionary, incredible movie in many ways. It began the career of Peter Lorre. It was the last gasp of German Expressionism before the Nazi takeover. It is, in many ways, Frtiz Lang's best film. It's haunting, moving and memorable like few other movies ever are.

Many people today forget what a major impact German cinema had on the development of movies. Starting with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (Special Collector's Edition) in 1920, and moving up through movies by greats like F W Murnau (Nosferatu,Faust,Sunrise - A Song of Two Humans) and Fritz Lang (Metropolis (Restored Authorized Edition),The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse - Criterion Collection), Germany manged to put forth some of the best, most amazing images ever projected up onto a screen. Who can forget the arrival of the plague ship in "Nosferatu", or Rotwang's robot in "Metropolis"? These images are iconic in our society, a fact made all the more interesting when you consider that not long after "M" another German would make the Swastika a very memorable and iconic image.

"M" tells the story of a serial killer who preys on children. We see him meeting a young girl as she goes home from school. We see him buying her a balloon. We see her mother wondering why she isn't home and calling out her name as the camera focuses on the pathetic place setting for a lunch the girl will never eat. We see her ball rolling away into the dirt near some bushes. We see her balloon rise up into the telephone wires.

As the populace gets more and more concerned about these killings, the Berlin police get more and more frustrated, as does the criminal element. Sales of their various wares are down. Business is hurting. They resent being lumped in together with this child murder and even consider taking out an add in the papers to say that he isn't one of them.

Eventually the criminals decide to act and begin to hunt for the killer themselves. What happens after they catch him is something that needs to be seen to be believed, as a kangaroo court of crimal masterminds puts the killer on trial, saying that many of them are quite well informed of the way the legal system works.

"M" can be viewed as the start of two major genres; film noir and police procedural. Much like in The Silence of the Lambs (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) and The Fugitive, you see the slow, steady process the police use as they try to track down a killer before he strikes again. And the film's status as the earliest form of noir is obvious to anyone who has ever seen any movie in that particular genre.

"M" is at times a hard movie to watch. You will find yourself feeling sympathy for Peter Lorre's character, vile though he is. His performance occupies maybe 20 minutes of screen time, but was so memorable that it resulted in him being typecast for the rest of his career. Given how good he was in those roles, maybe we should be thankful for that.

"M" was released on DVD as part of the Criterion Collection. The two-disc set can be bought for a surprisingly reasonable price on and is well worth purchasing, if for no other reason than the fact that you're not likely to find it in your local Blockbuster (though you can get a basic copy from Netflix). It includes many extras. The German dialogue with English subtitles may turn off some poeple, but it frankly adds an air to the film that dubbing would miss.

To conclude: If you're a fan of movies like this, or just enjoy a good film, I highly recommend you make time for "M".
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on January 8, 2015
Fritz Langs mastery at shiwing a story is clearly demonstrated here. What is not shown or spoken as related to the missing children is communicated through strong symbolic imagery. It is a classic but has held its own over the years as one of the best Lang films ever if not the best.
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on October 15, 2015
I first saw the movie 'M' when I was in junior high school and it creeped me out then, and some decades later, it still gives me chills. This is a classic, not much else can describe it. No matter that it was filmed in the early 1930s, it still holds up.
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on August 29, 2005
So how is it that one who enjoys movies, good and bad, as much as I do, has never seen Fritz Lang's M (1931) until last night? I've certainly heard about it, I've seen clips from it, I've read John J. Muth's beautifully rendered four issue comic/graphic novel adaptation of it, heck, I even bought the film at the end of last year, and it's been sitting on my `to be watched' shelf ever since...perhaps there was a sense of intimidation on my part, or fear...fear that I may not have liked the film that many acknowledge as a classic work of cinema, and one of the best examples of early German expressionist films (it's also one of the first, big German talkie films), from which so many others have since drawn upon for inspiration. After finally buckling down and watching it last night, I have to say, I really didn't know what I was missing, especially given how much I enjoy the noir films released by Hollywood in its heyday. Co-written and directed by Fritz Lang (Metropolis, The Blue Gardenia), the film stars Peter Lorre (The Man Who Knew Too Much, Mad Love), whom I first became familiar with, unknowingly, when I was a child, watching the Warner Brothers cartoons, shown on Saturday morning. It wasn't until later when I actually saw Lorre in Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) that I made the connection and realized his distinctive manner and appearance (bedroom voice, bug eyes, and moon face) was the one characterized within the various cartoons.

As the story begins, the city streets are buzzing with news of a child murderer on the loose, one whose just recently claimed yet another victim. We learn there have been eight murders so far, in as many months. The general public is visibly distressed, especially with the authorities and their inability to catch the killer who leaves very little behind in terms of useful clues. Soon people begin pointing fingers at each other, making accusations based on paranoid reactions...if you're seen on the street even near a child you're the killer...if you're seen being arrested by the police for something completely unrelated, you're the killer, and so on...the police may have very little to go on, but that doesn't mean they're not working the case. On the contrary, they're working themselves to exhaustion, following up anything and everything in hopes it will pan out into a viable lead...the problem is, besides the fact that they are being inundated with dead end leads, is that there's no seeming connection between the killer and his randomly chosen victims. The authorities have even begun scouring the criminal districts, in hopes of turning up something, which, of course, upsets the criminals as there's a heightened sense of awareness permeating the city and interfering with their trade. In an interesting juxtaposition, we see two groups meeting separately, yet at the same time, one being the authorities, the other being a criminal syndicate of sorts, both striving for the same outcome, but for relatively different reasons. The authorities want this murdering psychopath off the streets for obvious reasons, while the criminal element wants to catch him because not only is the intensive manhunt interfering with their business, but also because there reputations are suffering given the public's inclination to not distinguish one criminal from another. Based on the respective outcomes of the meetings, the authorities broaden their search to include the recently released individuals who were wards of the state, deemed `harmless' to society, while the criminals employ a very different, unique, and ultimately effective strategy. Eventually both methods pay off and the killer is identified (by the most unlikely source), and the real manhunt begins...who will find him first, the police, or the `organization'?

I have to say, this is probably the best film I've seen in an awhile. The one aspect that really stood out was the exquisite beauty within the cinematography, the usage of shadows along with an incredibly wide array of shots used to tell the story and develop tension throughout. Normally when someone uses that many different kinds of shots, it tends to draw unwanted attention, but here they seemed to have been chosen and ordered in such as ways as to feel seamless, hardly ever disrupting the flow. There was one shot, in particular, that comes to mind and it's when Lorre, who plays the killer, is being chased by emissaries of the underworld, through darkened streets. There's a high angled long shot, featuring an expansive view of a wide street, and we can see Lorre's character down below looking like a cornered animal, his escape routes cut off as various individuals appear, blocking off the exits. There are also many scenes featuring dialog being spoken by a character not on the screen, describing to another in detail what we're seeing as an example on the screen. One example of this was after the police raids on the criminal districts, we hear voice of one of the authorities speaking to another about the raids, while seeing a slow pan across a long table featuring all the contraband confiscated, including guns, knifes, brass knuckles, burglary tools, stolen booty, etc. Lorre's performance was amazing, even more so considering he wasn't even really featured in the first half of the film. The scenes were he's leading a potential victim around, buying candy and such, were particularly creepy, whistling that tune, but his real talent comes through near the end, as he tries to explain his despicable actions to an audience bent on seeing him destroyed. Despite the ugly nature of the character, Lorre almost makes you feel sympathetic towards his monstrous character...almost. One element that surprised me was the very subtle comedic touches included in the film dealing with such serious material. An example of this can be seen during the meeting of the criminals to discuss the effect the investigation of the killer is having on their business ventures. One individual asks another for the time, to which the one calls and asks the operator, and then proceeds to remove watch after watch from his garments to set the time...obviously he's a pickpocket by trade, and there was something comical about him taking out all these stolen watches to set the time. I've read that, with regards to some elements of the film, Lang intended to surreptitiously comment on his distaste for the prevalent Fascist regime within Germany at the time, and I can see collaborative material within the film to justify such a claim, specifically in terms of the public's reactions (accusations, finger pointing, apathy), and the authorities general sense of contempt for those it is trying to protect...whether this is true or not, I do not know, as I'm not one of historical knowledge, especially of a political sense...regardless, this is an excellent film, with a definite contemporary relevancy even after nearly 70 some odd years, and worth watching, if, for nothing else, to gain an appreciation for its influence on films that followed.

The film on this Criterion Collection DVD release runs 110 minutes, and looks beautiful in its original aspect ratio of 1.19:1. The picture is very clear and clean, as is the Dolby Digital monaural audio. This release also features a `new and improved' English subtitle translation. This is a two disc set, the first featuring a new, restored in high definition digital print, along with an audio commentary by German film scholars Anton Kaes and Eric Rentschler. The second disc contains a conversation with Fritz Lang (50 minutes), a short film titled "M le Maudet", by Claude Chabrol, classroom tapes of M editor Paul Falkenberg discussing the film and its history, an interview with Harold Nebenzal, son of the producer, a physical history of M, and a still gallery with behind the scenes photos and production sketches. Also included is a 32-page booklet with essays, interviews, and a script for a missing scene.


By the way, as far as the meaning of the one letter title, it's pretty simple, one that's made perfectly clear within the film, so there's no sense in my spoiling it here...
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on March 16, 2017
The German director Fritz Lang in 1931 created a masterpiece on complex themes of guilt, insanity and criminal responsibility and catapulted a young actor, Peter Lorre, into well deserved stardom. Lorre does not have much on screen time until about half through and then he increasingly dominates, culminating in a long, emotional monologue. "M" is about serial murder (the killer focuses on little girls), public hysteria in a crime wave, and contemplates a curious interaction between police work and organized crime. Great film.
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VINE VOICEon October 1, 2009
This is a chilling film about a child murderer who terrifies a Berlin neighborhood. The police seem to focus on the lowly criminals and prostitutes in the area and seem more interested in making a show of the hunt at least in the beginning. The community members are terrified and numb at first then become activist in hunting for the killer. Police eventually bring in skilled investigators who come close to catching the killer. The people use a blind possible witness for better effect. What happens to the killer, who captures him and his explanation form the essential thought provoking finale. Capital punishment, evil deeds and uncontrollable compulsions are discussed and become part of the story. The psychological background of the killer, the police and the community were ground breaking at the time. The DVD comes with a story booklet, several interesting documentaries and quite a lot of information on Fritz Lang and German film-making at the time. I found all very interesting. Loved them.
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on December 22, 2004
This is a wonderful new release from the Criterion Collection! The quality is far superior to their earlier release of the same film.

Forgetting the extra DVD, the image-quality alone makes this new release all the worthwhile for serious collectors. The screen is entirely fit this time - you'll actually see black bars on the RIGHT and LEFT of your screen, as the film is presented in a unique aspect-ratio that it was originally shot in.

The grain is scarce. The blacks are deep and rich. The dust & scratches are minimal, and this picture yields a much crisper and sharper image than anything we've ever had before. It's a pretty damn good restoration job if I say so!

If this were most other movies in film history, I might agree that another DVD release is a blatant exploitation, but "M" is not most movies. If there is a better version out there of some of these 'ultra-legendary' films such as Fritz Lang's "M", then please someone, make them available to us. I understand that there's been a fairly recent restoration attempt done on Murnau's ultra-legendary "Nosferatu"...where's the DVD release?

At least with this new and largely impressive upgrade of "M", we got it!

Thank You! Worth it for fans.
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