“That is a nice ball you have.” Creepy? Yes! Very creepy. Join this episode’s Grue-Crew – Whitney Collazo, Chad Hunt, Daphne Monary-Ernsdorff, and Jeff Mohr – as they take in what might well be the prototype serial killer film, Fritz Lang’s M (1931), starring Peter Lorre.
Decades of Horror: The Classic Era
Episode 113 – M (1931)
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When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt.IMDb
- Director: Fritz Lang
- Writers: Thea von Harbou (script), Fritz Lang (script)
- Cinematographer: Fritz Arno Wagner
- Selected Cast
- Peter Lorre as Hans Beckert
- Otto Wernicke as Inspector Karl Lohmann
- Gustaf Gründgens as Der Schränker (The Safecracker)
- Ellen Widmann as Mother Beckmann
- Inge Landgut as Elsie Beckmann
- Theodor Loos as Inspector Groeber
- Friedrich Gnaß as Franz, the burglar
- Fritz Odemar as Falschspieler (Cheater)
- Paul Kemp as Taschendieb (pickpocket with seven watches)
- Theo Lingen as Bauernfänger (con man)
- Rudolf Blümner as Beckert’s defender
- Georg John as blind balloon-seller
- Franz Stein as minister
- Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur as police chief
- Gerhard Bienert as criminal secretary
- Karl Platen as Damowitz, a night-watchman
- Rosa Valetti as innkeeper
- Hertha von Walther as prostitute
- Hanna Maron (uncredited) as girl in circle at the beginning
- Heinrich Gotho as passer-by who tells a kid the time
- Klaus Pohl as witness / one-eyed man (uncredited)
Daphne is taken in by Fritz Arno Wagner’s beautiful cinematography and Peter Lorre’s mind-blowing performance. She is also intrigued with how Lang uses sound, emphasizing silence as much as sound. Certain elements of M, for instance, the pacing, make it hard for Whitney to get into the film. On the other hand, she enjoys Peter Lorre’s performance and is definitely creeped out by some scenes. M seems almost like two different movies to Chad. The pacing during the first half is not to his liking, but once everyone is on the trail of Peter Lorre’s character, he really got into it. And, of course, Peter Lorre for the win! Jeff loves M and could watch it just for the cinematography and Peter Lorre’s acting.
You know you want to check out or revisit M, right? At the time of this writing, it is available to stream from HBO max, the Criterion Channel, and Kanopy. M is also available on physical media as a Criterion Collection Blu-ray.
Gruesome Magazine’s Decades of Horror: The Classic Era records a new episode every two weeks. Up next on their very flexible schedule is one chosen by Daphne: Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter (1955), starring Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish, and Shelley Winters. You will not want to miss that one!
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