Friday, September 25, 2009
'M' is a startlingly brilliant, dexterous movie from one of the finest directors of not just German, but World Cinema. Fritz Lang is his name and what he creates with 'M' not only creates the film noir, but simultaneously goes beyond what almost any other film of the genre proceeding it accomplishes. The movie begins as sort of an abduction/murder mystery. Children are being snatched by a mysterious killer and the police are growing desperate as the manhunt seems to be going nowhere. But due to the rigid pursuance, a separate crime gang realizes that they can't go on with their business without being spotted by the police. So they begin to search for the killer as well so that they can continue with their own dirty work. We get to know more about the killer as the movie goes on. He's played by Peter Lorre, who, in his first major role, gives a frightening, majestic performance. It is the work of a great actor when a character so terrible can still make the audience feel pity. 'M' is available via Criterion, which always makes for a terrific viewing experience. Plus, the DVD is loaded with bonus features, including an interview with Lang. If you're curious, the title for the film comes from a device in the plot to help pick out the killer. It stands for morder, German for murderer.