April 13th, 2012: M (1931)

Cast and Crew:  Fritz Lang (Director/Script)

What It’s About: When the cops can’t catch serial child murderer Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre), the criminal underworld decides to do it themselves.

Why Watch it Today?:  Peter Kurten, one of the serial killers who inspired today’s film, was put on trial today in 1931.

Where to Get It: Watch it free at YouTube:

5 comments on “April 13th, 2012: M (1931)

  1. retrozombi says:

    9 death sentences. I can only assume they were served concurrently…

    This is such a great movie, but I had no idea it had a real case behind it.

    • professormortis says:

      There were a lot of German serial killers in the 1920s-I guess it was such a turbulent time it was easy for them to get away with it for a while. Kurten is the only whose name I recall off the top of my head, though, probably because of his “Vampire” nickname.

      • retrozombi says:

        What struck me is that he actually used the defense Lorre pleads in the film. I’d always seen the film as astonishingly liberal for raising the issue, but it seems to me with this context that it may have actually been reactionary.

  2. professormortis says:

    It’s an interesting question, if it is reactionary or not. Certainly Kurten’s defense failed utterly…and with the film casting the judge and jury as criminals…not sure the sympathies are with them. What sticks out most about the movie in my mind were the crime/serial killer elements and Lorre’s performance, though, so I may just be misremembering things here.

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