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  • Writer's pictureSteve

M (1931)

[IMDB Completionists Series - #3 of 85]

If it wasn't for Grieg, he might have just got away with it.

"They've been after him for eight months now, they'll only catch him by accident now."

Be it law enforcement or underground criminal, everyone wants to catch the child killer, albeit for very different reasons. Every smoke-filled room in the city seems to be filled with concerned men of power, united only in their intention to catch the killer.

We can't really argue with Lang's skill with a frame. This is incontrovertible. You only have to watch the camera work in this, his first 'talkie' to see that there is a rare and inventive talent at work for his time.

What does surprise me is the arguably hysterical reaction particularly in light of the abduction of one particular child when we are led to believe that this is just one of an already long list of previous victims. It is also only now that parents are encouraged to ensure the safety of their children. Personally, I would already have been on high alert, if I had been caught up in the furore surrounding everyone here. Only a couple of years away from the Nazi's, this maybe explains the anxiety and ramped up finger-pointing.

Peter Lorre's first major role seems made for him and his casting seems pre-ordained and this is possibly the first time a murderer is cast with even so much as a nod to helpless addiction, suggesting that it had begun to be recognised that there was a potential difference between evil and illness.

In all, an excellent picture from Lang, that still stands up to the test of time today in some respects, with some sublime acting and incredible camera work. Not as complex or the trial I had been led to believe, however.


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