Public Domain Movie Of The Week: M

So, Fritz Lang’s M is the grandfather of serial killer movies. It details the search for a child murderer by both the police and the criminal underworld. If you thought Psycho or The Silence of the Lambs were good, they’ve got nothing on M. This was Lang’s first “talkie,” but unlike most other talking pictures of the time, Lang didn’t cram in a lot of extraneous dialogue. The sound is sparse and purposeful and features the first use of leitmotif in movies, associating the character of Hans Beckert with Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King”- when you hear the tune, you know the killer is lurking nearby. Lang’s stylistic use of light and shadow gives it a strong resemblance to film noir, which wasn’t defined as a genre for another 10 years. Peter Lorre shot to stardom for his portrayal of Beckert.

There’s a pretty decent version available for download at the Internet Archive.

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