Fritz Lang’s first sound film made an unlikely star of Peter Lorre, and found an unlikely fan in Joseph Goebbels, although it was banned by the Nazis in 1934, when both Lorre and Lang had escaped Germany for Hollywood. Inspired by actual incidents, M features Lorre as Hans Beckert, child murderer. As newspaper headlines decry the horrific crimes, police have few leads, and Beckert is free to roam the streets, eerily whistling a Grieg air as he seeks fresh victims.
While the authorities are helpless, Berlin’s underworld unites to hunt down the killer, with gangsters, beggars and petty criminals intent on dispensing their own ruthless brand of justice. The mob cornering of Beckert leads to one of cinema’s greatest set pieces, while affording this wretched character some semblance of humanity is credit to both Lang’s heroic daring and Lorre’s matchless performance. (Notes by Michael Hayden.
This film will feature as part of September’s FREE film club meeting, The Critical Take, on Tuesday, 23rd September (18.30). This club is open to all so please join us to chat about this film and more! Simply collect your free ticket at the IFI Box Office.
Don’t forget we now schedule weekly.
★★★★★ The Irish Times ★★★★★ The Guardian