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Past Films

M (1931)

  • Starring: Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Gustaf Gründgens, Inge Landgut
  • Director: Fritz Lang
  • Language: German
  • Genre(s): Drama, Mystery, Suspense
  • Rating: NR
  • Running Time: 105 min.

Essential Janus Films
This new quarterly series showcases the “essential” films everyone should see on the big screen. For each month-long program, we’ll screen five films organized by one of the following themes: directors, actors, genres, and eras/movements.

Essential tickets are $9 for Adults, $8 for Students/Seniors and Members get in Free!

Janus Films is the pre-eminent distributor of classic foreign films in the United States. Founded by two Harvard students in 1956, Janus Films was one of the first distributors to bring what are now regarded as the masterpieces of world cinema to American audiences.

Film Summary: A simple, haunting musical phrase whistled offscreen tells us that a young girl will be killed. “Who Is the Murderer?” pleads a nearby placard as serial killer Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) closes in on little Elsie Beckmann . In his harrowing masterwork M, Fritz Lang merges trenchant social commentary with chilling suspense, creating a panorama of private madness and public hysteria that to this day remains the blueprint for the psychological thriller.

"Lang's movie is that rare thing, a nail-biting soul-searcher. While M steers clear of analyzing deviance, it is startling in its musings on which punishment fits an inhuman crime."
- Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer
"Few films are gripping and effective 82 years after their original release, but this one surely is."
- Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"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)."
- Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out
"The moral issues are complex and deftly handled: Lorre is at once entirely innocent and absolutely evil. Lang's detached, modified expressionist style gives the action a plastic beauty."
- Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"A subversive film, or more simply a movie brimming over with the ferment of Lang's imagination at its height? You choose."
- Derek Adams, Time Out
"[An] important film which rightly deserves its success."
- Mordaunt Hall, New York Times
"Lorre's performance as a desperate killer who insists he can't help himself remains his finest hour on film."
- John Hartl,
"It's an impeccable film -- a model of psychological suspense and a stunning display of Lang's power and skill."
- Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle
"This astonishing movie represents an unsurpassed grand synthesis of storytelling."
- Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"The film doesn't ask for sympathy for the killer Franz Becker, but it asks for understanding: As he says in his own defense, he cannot escape or control the evil compulsions that overtake him."
- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times