Previously Played


  • 5:30 ONLY

$7 Member   $12.50 Regular

Directed by FRITZ LANG


(1931) Grieg’s “The Hall of the Mountain King,” from Peer Gynt, is whistled off-screen, little girls disappear, and both polizei and the underwent (that is, cops and crooks) start separate manhunts for the child-molesting murderer. The cinema’s first serial killer story and still perhaps the most terrifying, Lang’s first sound film — and personal favorite (“I prefer M,” he declared in Godard’s Contempt) — met Nazi resistance under its original title, Murderers Among Us, until Lang let them know it was based on the reallife Düsseldorf murderer Peter Kürten — and not them. Erstwhile Brecht regular Peter Lorre became world-famous overnight as the squealing, helpless murderer, despite his inability to whistle (the dubbing was by Lang himself). Innovative in its use of sound and image juxtapositions, as well as its ultimately sympathetic portrait (“I can’t help myself!”) of a sexual psychopath, M (the title derives from the shoulder chalk mark tagging Lorre as Mörder) proved on its original release too rich for the blood of the New York Times critic, who squeamishly tsked, “More horrible than anything that has so far come to the screen... too hideous to contemplate.” Despite its world-classic status, M has been all too often seen through the years in multi-generational dupe prints, generally missing the final scene and frustratingly under-subtitled in typical early- 30s style. This stunning new version includes new English subtitles and footage missing from earlier restorations. Approx. 117 min. DCP.

Restored by TLEFilms Restoration & Preservation Services (Berlin) in association with Archives Françaises du Film — CNC (Paris) and inPostFactory (Berlin)





*****! [5 STARS!]
 [highest rating]
"Ultimately, and to M’s towering credit, the murderer stares back at us in the mirror: This is a movie that dares to sympathize with a sick person, that risks making the monster real and us (in an era when Germany’s cinema was still shellacked in canted angles and fanciful shadows). Can the dozens of films that came from this—M is the first serial-killer movie—say the same? In addressing its crimes, it calls on an audience’s mercy, and for that alone, M demands awe."

— Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

"The masterly performance of Peter Lorre seeps under your skin like a tenacious itch."
– Stephen Holden, The New York Times


"Disquietingly modern... Lang profiles the psychic essence of Berlin in the sinister twilight of the Weimar era. Choosing to reconstruct the city in the studio, Lang produced a near abstract but also disturbingly exact portrait of civilization on the edge of apocalyptic delirium. The movie chronicles a Grieg-loving child murderer whose killing spree prompts both the Berlin police and the city’s besieged criminal underworld to conduct a manhunt for the murderer. The movie uses this set-up to unite high and low, cop and criminal, and victim and villain in a portrait of a city spiraling into chaos."
– Paul Anthony Johnson, Cinespect
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“VIRTUALLY RE-INVENTS THE ART OF MOVIE STORYTELLING! A masterpiece structured with the kind of perfection that calls to mind both poetry and architecture and that makes even Lang’s disciples’ classics seem minor by comparison.”
– Jonathan Rosenbaum

M seems every bit a more substantial and technically complex work than Lang’s previous landmark, 1927’s Metropolis... as perfect an example of pure cinema in the sound era as one is likely to find.”
– Chris Cabin, Slant