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M
Year:
1931
Country:
Germany
Genre:
Crime, Drama, Thriller, Film-Noir
IMDB rating:
8.4
Director:
Fritz Lang
Peter Lorre as Hans Beckert
Ellen Widmann as Frau Beckmann
Inge Landgut as Elsie Beckmann
Otto Wernicke as Inspector Karl Lohmann
Theodor Loos as Inspector Groeber
Gustaf Gründgens as Schränker
Friedrich Gnaß as Franz, the burglar
Fritz Odemar as The cheater
Paul Kemp as Pickpocket with six watches
Theo Lingen as Bauernfänger
Rudolf Blümner as Beckert's defender
Georg John as Blind panhandler
Franz Stein as Minister
Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur as Police chief
Storyline: In Germany, Hans Beckert is an unknown killer of girls. He whistles Edvard Grieg's 'In The Hall of the Mountain King', from the 'Peer Gynt' Suite I Op. 46 while attracting the little girls for death. The police force pressed by the Minister give its best effort trying unsuccessfully to arrest the serial killer. The organized crime has great losses due to the intense search and siege of the police and decides to chase the murderer, with the support of the beggars association. They catch Hans and briefly judge him.
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720p 864x720 px 4479 Mb h264 1536 Kbps mkv Download
HQ DVD-rip 720x576 px 2897 Mb mpeg4 3647 Kbps mp4 Download
Reviews
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In the words of a friend of the most astounding and most memorable criminal films that will strike you up for 117 minutes with fears and fears ... It's a movie made by a German cinema that sparkles the world of its silent cinema With Metropolis, he is undoubtedly one of the best directors ever in the history of cinema ... apart from the unsurpassed play of actors such as killer actress (Peter Laura) ... decoupage, museums, decor, music, and the language and the language of each image. It's a masterpiece, and maybe this is the image of the long-awaited omen of the cinematic cinema that has been made for years for that film.
2017-11-18
The very essence of the cinematic storytelling experience
"M" still remains at the top of my list, as the best film I have ever seen.

To think that Fritz Lang had never used sound in any of his previous films, makes one marvel at his deft use of the 'voice', which often continues where the actors do not.

The 'texture' of the film is created by the ever so real and vivid characters; real Berliners, that embody the very soul of that city at that time. You have the sensation of being there, sitting at the table with these characters and eating a 'Wurst' and having a beer. You not only get to know them, but actually feel like you want to know them. It's a form of cinematic surrogate love. You want to be, and are, a part of the experience and events.

Experiencing this film once again, tonight, at the Film Museum in Vienna, I feel satiated, fed with art at it's highest form. I thank all artists who make me not only 'attentive' to the world around me, but are able to captivate me body and soul with their work.

Thank you Fritz Lang,

A masterpiece!
2012-10-19
"M" For Murder, "M" For ...
"Masterpiece" is the word most film buffs and historians probably would use to describe this 1931 Fritz Lange film, based loosely on the events of a real-life serial killer a few years prior to the film. In this movie, the killer is Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre), who lures children to their deaths.

Though the story is about a child killer, the theme of "M" centers more on society's obsession with the murders. From kids playing games, to adults going about their everyday lives, everyone is on guard, suspicious, combative, and very vindictive. For selfish reasons, even the petty criminal underworld wants the child killer caught. But the police are ineffective, and a self-righteous mob mentality takes over. The whole film is really a study in the terrifying psychology of "group think".

As it turns out, the killer is less monstrous than pathetic and compulsive. Beckert can't help himself. He's a short, squatty, bug-eyed little man who can't control the devil within. Lorre was perfect for the role, and his acting is flawless and mesmerizing. Yes, the killings, all off-screen, are awful. But the militant lynch-mob mentality is just as scary. Beckert is the only individualist in the film.

Part silent film and part talkie, the B&W visual style of "M" is wonderfully expressionistic and baroque. There are lots of overhead camera shots. Background sounds, like honking horns and whistles, are precursors of major plot points.

What strikes me most about this film is its tone. I can think of very few films that are so harsh, so bitter, so malicious, so punitive. "M" contains not an ounce of humanism. Lang's ex-wife, Thea von Harbou, a Nazi sympathizer, wrote the film, just before the rise of Hitler. The film's angry, militant tone thus foreshadows Hitler's Third Reich, from 1933 until 1945. (Lang himself fled Germany, and ended up in the U.S.)

Your own personal preferences in films will determine whether you consider "M" to be a masterpiece, or overrated, or perhaps somewhere in between. But individual preferences aside, there can be no doubt that "M" is an important film, historically. Every person who wishes to be versed in classic films needs to see "M" at least once.
2006-04-09
The Ultimate Crime Drama, Years Before The Genre Took Off
A serial killer who favors children (Peter Lorre) is on the loose in Berlin. He is wanted by the police. But, even worse for him, he is wanted by the Berlin underworld, who have been targeted falsely by the police for being involved. Watch out, child killer!

There is nothing bad I can say about this film. The acting, the directing, the sound... all perfect. Many have praised Lang for his use of sound at a time when the practice was just coming into play. And rightfully so. Whereas other films have sound matching what is on the screen, Lang realized he could use the effect to signify what he was not showing, including the murderer (who has a distinctive whistle). Brilliant. Not to mention that one key role is a blind beggar... a man who cannot appreciate visuals, but only sounds... he is appropriately the man who can identify the killer!

Basing the story loosely off of child-murderers of the day (Grossman, Haarman and Peter Kürten) this is one of the darkest tales set to film up to this point. There is no blood, and no children are actually seen killed. And the killer is relatively reserved compared to his real-life counterparts, who were also rapists and cannibals. He presents an interesting defense: his crimes are less wrong than the crimes of others because he cannot psychologically control himself. Or, in modern terms, not guilty by reason of mental defect. Is a child killer less evil than a pickpocket? Is he in some way also a victim?

I enjoyed the idea of a unionized underworld. I do not know the reality of this, as it seemed sort of comic and anticipated such villainous team-ups as we might see in comic books. But crime was certainly not unheard of, and even "black market meat" existed... and I am not sure if I really want to know what that means.

Many, including reviewer Stanley Kauffmann, have noticed the similarity between "M" and Bertolt Brecht's "Threepenny Opera". Sadly, I have not seen Brecht's work and cannot comment on the comparison. German philosopher Theodor Lessing, best known for his work on Jewish self-hatred, may even have been an inspiration, due to his work on Haarmann. But regardless of inspiration, Lang is the master here... his work stands the test of time and today, almost a century later, is widely recognized as one of the greatest achievements on film. At the least, many consider it the all-time greatest German film. And rightfully so.

There are so many great shots, including the so-called "inventory" shot of the criminal underworld's wares. Lang also excelled with the camera angles, using knives as frames and getting more than one great mirror shot. (I should also give credit to cinematographer Fritz Arno Wagner, who previously worked on "Nosferatu" and many others -- his reputation should be second only to Karl Freund.)

There is nothing that beats the Criterion release with commentary, short films and more. I watched the film this way on DVD. Perhaps a Blu-ray release has even more, but I would not even know what could be added. This disc is packed and a must-own for any film historian or Lang fan.
2010-02-02
There are no "answers" {Fritz Lang}
This is a piece of cinema history. Fritz Lang, has left an impressive record of his genius and love of the cinematic art form. In this particular work we are taken on a journey of exploration, touching on some of Lang's big themes, {which are often repeated in his cinematic "body of work"}.

A perverse,{from a pathological view-point} or evil, {from a moral view- point}, force is at work in a Dusseldorf precinct of 80 years ago. The viewer is led through a beautifully wrought cinematography with insane camera angles {the camera is definitely a player in this movie}, as the fear and paranoia of one of the most heinous forms of criminality is explored. The rape and murder of young girls by a serial killer.

Hans Beckett {played by the totally amazing actor Peter Lorre} is wreaking mayhem amongst the population as the townspeople become gripped with a mass hysteria fed by sensationalist broadsheets and the pull and tug of imaginary monsters.

The realism {a style pioneered by Lang in this film} is palpable and emphasized by the precise care for detail, that Lang delivers throughout. The tension is cast in a delineated incise clarity with all of the actors being finely portrayed by the master film-maker.

Apart from being a great yarn, suspense thriller, chase movie, detective/police drama, bohemian milieu expose, {this movie has something of every possible genre}, there is also the philosophical question of human morality that Lang raises {its ugly head?}.

What is to be done about the criminally insane? Are they different from the vocational criminal? In what way are they different? How should their punishment differ? How can society be protected from this category of miscreant? Should they be punished at all? Finally, apart from the aforementioned questions and other related questions, Lang poses the eternal conundrum "What can Mothers do to protect their children from these aberrants and their violent obsessions?" The final solution, Lang offers amounts to the admonition to "look after your children", in other words Lang is saying, "not very much can be done".

This is a dense movie, running the gamut of horror, and comedy, a mirror that is shone in your face and ultimately challenging the viewer to ask the primal question "exactly what is it, to be human?".
2011-06-02
Peter Lorre wears two masks as Fritz Lang enjoys a vision of society through Berlin.
Watching this movie unfold, specifically the plot, has been a great learning experience for a burgeoning cinephile. I haven't learned as much since watching 'Witness For the Prosecution'. Yes, I do understand that this movie came before the that.

A child murderer is at large. The police cannot find him, the criminals cannot live their lives, and the civilians cannot relax. It has been 8 months since the first murder and there is naught to go on but a few clues. Among those clues, a red pencil and a wooden table. All citizens of Berlin despair as life continues in an unlivable fashion.

The criminals can no longer work in the capacity that regular life affords them. The police intensely pursue all walks of life since they can afford no alternative. And the civilians of Berlin just want balance to be restored.

The criminals recognize what needs to be done, as the police remain frustrated. Working towards the same purpose as the police they begin to piece together a suspect. Setting out to catch the murderer in their own way using talents unique to them.

The police find a clue while the criminals find a hint. As both close in on the same suspect we must ask ourselves, who will catch him first?
2017-01-18
Awesome. Way ahead of its time.
A group of children are playing an elimination game in the courtyard of an apartment building in Berlin[5] using a chant about a murderer of children. A woman sets the table for dinner, waiting for her daughter to come home from school. A wanted poster warns of a serial killer preying on children, as anxious parents wait outside a school.

Little Elsie Beckmann leaves school, bouncing a ball on her way home. She is approached by Hans Beckert, who is whistling "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Edvard Grieg. He offers to buy her a balloon from a blind street-vendor. He walks and talks with her. Elsie's place at the dinner table remains empty, her ball is shown rolling away across a patch of grass, and her balloon is lost in the telephone lines overhead.

In the wake of Elsie's death, Beckert sends an angry letter about his crimes to the newspapers, from which the police extract clues using the new techniques of fingerprinting and handwriting analysis. Under mounting pressure from city leaders, the police work around the clock. Inspector Karl Lohmann instructs his men to intensify their search and to check the records of recently released psychiatric patients to look for those with a history of violence against children. They stage frequent raids to question known criminals, disrupting underworld business so badly that Der Schränker ("The Safecracker") calls a meeting of the city's criminal bosses. They decide to organize their own manhunt, using beggars to watch and guard the children.

The police discover two clues corresponding to the killer's letter in Beckert's rented rooms. They wait there to arrest him.
2016-07-10
Safecracker's mob
***User reviewer EThompsonUMD ("Influential and unforgettable masterpiece", EThompsonUMD from Massachusetts, 31 March 2006) has a great summary. Also, rxcdr has very interesting insights ("M a few thoughts", rxcdr, 28 March 2003).***

"M" (Fritz Lang, 1931) is master class. It is an expressionist, suspenseful study of individual vs. collective perversion. There are three storytelling techniques you might not see anywhere else: Scenes utterly without sound, no musical score and all violence withheld from view. (The latter point may be surprising to contemporary audiences accustomed to paying to witness modern kill-a-thons.) Lang always wanted the violence in his films to be implied. In "M", he winds down the extremely suspenseful opening and conveys the tragic death of young Elsie (Inge Landgut) without showing any part of her demise. Instead, he cuts to a familiar plastic ball bouncing on patchy-grass (without its owner) followed by an balloon (that resembles a phallus) floating near telephone lines. Lang's meaning is unmistakable: The serial child murderer (Peter Lorre as Hans Beckert) first raped and then killed her. The audience is aware of the magnitude of the crime but is not too emotionally taxed to miss what will follow.

There is a twist coming. Because the police (of an unnamed German city of 4.5 million) investigation is shown with painstaking detail, it seems as if they will remain the focus of the story. However, as the PD fail to make any progress in the case they begin to harass criminal elements (e.g. thieves and prostitutes) while restricting everyone's civil liberties. We are then introduced to a particular gang of hard-core bank robbers who are led by an imposing man named "Safecracker" (Gustaf Gründgens, who resembles the classic handsome SS man seen in other films.). To get the police off their backs, Safecracker chillingly insists to his associates that they must "exterminate" the child killer themselves. Safecracker's gang will eventually infiltrate a secure office building and apprehend Beckert in a way that resembles a coup d'etat.

There appear to be very obvious historical parallels with the psychopathic Safecracker (and the mob he is inciting) with the rising National Socialist party led by Adolf Hitler. ("M" was released only two years before Hitler became Chancellor of Germany). As the bank robbers and assorted thieves, prostitutes and beggars assume the climatic kangaroo court, Lang is depicting the horror of sadistic criminals assuming control of government. (BTW, it is believed that Lang did not author the final scene, which weakens the anti-authoritarian message. Also, it is worth noting that Fritz Lang and Peter Lorre were both considered anti-Fascist and fled Germany. Apparently, Joseph Goebbels himself warned Lang it was time to go.)

Without revealing too many details of the climatic scene, Beckert's pleading to the court (that he can't help himself around underage girls) is contrasted with the pitiless voices that are willingly becoming Safecracker's mob. The depiction of a society nearing its own collapse is being made with extraordinary sophistication. (Lorre is outstanding throughout, but especially at the finish.)

"M" has some strange moments, such as a 30-second, floor-level view (looking up) at a male policeman's crotch. Then there is the abundance of tobacco: Every male smokes cigars like chimneys; some use contraptions that are rather unsightly; while beggars eagerly organize their collections of butts recovered who-knows-where. (Let's not forget this was from 1931, so of course the scenes unfold with the pacing of that era.)

The terror-repression-Fascism path in "M" resonates with present-day events. Cinephiles are encouraged to bounce their plastic balls in the direction of the revival theater that is screening it to see Fritz Lang's masterpiece, "M".
2014-05-22
m (1931) **1/2
Early German thriller from Fritz Lang ("Metropolis"), spotlighting a young Peter Lorre as a crazed child murderer. He selects innocent young girls and discreetly walks off with them, leaving the police force baffled as to trying to apprehend him and bring him to justice. So a concerned vigilante mob consisting of average citizens and hardened criminals take matters into their own hands in trying to catch the killer without interference from the law.

My basic summation above sounds far more interesting than the way this overrated film plays out. I just re-watched this for my third (but final) time, on a Criterion DVD which offered the original German language version with English subtitles. The movie has a troubled history of having different prints at varying lengths, and this one was way overlong at around 109 minutes. I first saw M at the Film Forum in NYC, around the late 1990's. (It may have been a shorter English-dubbed version). At that time I recall being impressed at least with the intense ending, which highlights an emotional and sympathetic performance by Peter Lorre, where he is thrown at the mercy of a kangaroo court and actually pleads for the audience to consider his compulsions from his own warped perspective. It was based on that memory that I picked up the Criterion DVD release at the time it came out, which I may have spun maybe only one other time after I first bought it. However, I found this newest viewing to be dull and prolonged, with endless scenes of police procedures and discussions. Peter Lorre's screen time was precious little, and he only got to shine at the end for the last 15 minutes or so -- which was a good scene, but not worth enduring the rest of this tedium. There was not much in the way of "directorial flourishes". There are some nice suggestive visual setups at the opening to allude to Lorre's crimes, but that was about all. Just too much contemplating, searching, investigating, talking, meandering, to take up the most inflated guts of this film. **1/2 out of ****
2013-09-15
Peter Lorre's finest performance
Even if you don't speak German, you can tell that this is Peter Lorre's finest performance. The trial scene especially is a standout in Fritz Lang's greatest masterpiece, boasting other fine performances by an ensemble cast of many of pre-Nazi Germany's greatest stars.
1999-12-12
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