1931. dir. Fritz Lang, starring Peter Lorre, Ellen Widmann, Inge Landgut. German with subtitles.
Seen it before? No.
"M" is for "Murderer", or whatever the German word for Murderer is. There's a depraved child killer (Peter Lorre) on the loose, and he's making everyone anxious and paranoid. (Although not quite paranoid enough; people still seem fine with letting their children walk home unsupervised.) The police have responded by instituting random raids and searches, which is making life difficult for the local crime syndicate. So they have a meeting, and decide they are going to capture him themselves. I'm not sure how much sense this plan makes. Suppose they capture him and kill him, which is what they wanted to do - wouldn't the police still be looking for the killer? So It's a race to see who captures him first, the police or the criminals. The police use CSI: 1930's Germany techniques: fingerprinting, evidence gathering, handwriting analysis, and the like. The criminals hire the beggars (who are surprisingly well organized) as an army of informants.
This is a great movie. Peter Lorre is terribly creepy as the killer who doesn't quite understand what he's doing. This movie is at times suspenseful, and darkly funny.
Position on the list: 56
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