30 M

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peerpee
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Re: 30 M

#201 Post by peerpee » Thu Apr 22, 2010 6:21 pm

Donald Brown wrote:I'm stunned that anyone thinks the Criterion has less detail than the MoC. It absolutely has more, especially in the highlights.

If the shadows look blocked up to you in any of these caps, you should calibrate your monitor.

....the tonality and detail on the Criterion as a result of their darker transfer is simply better.
Donald - I'm all set to follow Matt's advice and let this lie, but in response to your specific comments above -- they simply don't apply consistently. Look at the detail below, the girl at the bottom, the patterning on her dress, her hair:

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daniel p
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Re: 30 M

#202 Post by daniel p » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:07 am

The transfer comes down to personal taste it seems. I am leaning towards the MOC purely because amazon's prices are ridiculous at the moment, but am still undecided.

I'm wondering which bunch of extras area better? Also, which has the better booklet?

But in all, what a fantastic forum this is!!

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Re: 30 M

#203 Post by david hare » Fri Apr 23, 2010 12:46 am

The only thing I dont have and would love is the Chabrol piece on the Crit. BUt Beaver deson't have anything to say about it.

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Re: 30 M

#204 Post by cdnchris » Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:46 pm

david hare wrote:The only thing I dont have and would love is the Chabrol piece on the Crit. BUt Beaver deson't have anything to say about it.
The film itself is interesting (and only a few minutes) but I got more out of the interview with Chabrol, who ends up breaking down a couple of sequences and the techniques Lang used to make them work. He gets into detail about how there's a couple shots he tried to recreate that weren't working and couldn't figure out why, but it wasn't until after intensely studying the sequences in Lang's film and finally noticing some subtlties that didn't register at first where he was finally able to make his recreations work.

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Re: 30 M

#205 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Apr 23, 2010 5:48 pm

To add some extra detail to cdnchris's comment Chabrol talks about the preciseness of Lang's filmmaking where "nothing exists outside the frame" - taking the example of three people sitting at a table where one person gets up and leaves, Chabrol talks of Lang either honing in intently on the two remaining characters at the table and excluding the person who has just left from the world of the film, or either he follows the person who leaves, closing off the conversation at the table just as it would close off for this person who is leaving (the way Chabrol describes this made me think about those 'stream of consciousness' style films like Slacker). Chabrol talks about the simple, efficient camera movements that don't draw attention to this transition but instead feel fluid and subconsciously 'correct'.

He describes the difficulty he had in the timing of two shots - the shot where Beckert is beginning to be surrounded by the gang just before he runs into the offices and there is a pan to one menacing figure leaning up against the corner of the building watching him intently, and the sequence as Beckert is captured in the storage space as he stands up an instant before the light from the torch hits him. Chabrol talks of trying to reproduce those moments but finding that something was slightly 'off' about the result, until he realised that the only way to get the correct tone to the shots was to pan the camera from Becket to the menacing figure at the exact speed it occurred in Lang's film, and to get Beckert to stand up a second before (not two seconds, or half a second before) the torch illuminates him.

Chabrol ends by saying this is the reason why he would never try to make a completely Langian film, as that would be madness. But he'd steal the techniques! (I guess that's why Dr M doesn't really feel like a Langian styled film but more in a Chabrol style containing Lang elements) This short interview puts the M le maudit film into context as a kind of experimental film making it seem as much, if not more, for Chabrol's benefit and inspired by his interest in Lang as intended for viewing by an actual audience.

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The M le Maudit piece is 10 mins 44 seconds and the interview with Chabrol is 6 mins 47 seconds.

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Re: 30 M

#207 Post by felipe » Tue Aug 31, 2010 10:40 pm

All things considered (special features, booklet etc) which edition would you say is better, Criterion's or MoC's?

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Re: 30 M

#208 Post by knives » Tue Aug 31, 2010 11:09 pm

Probably the MOC, if only because of PQ, but they're actually very close.

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Re: 30 M

#209 Post by Gregor Samsa » Wed Sep 01, 2010 2:30 am

MOC also has an extra commentary track and a longer booklet. Though the Criterion has some interesting extras not on the MOC, like the 'Physical History of M' and the classroom commentary...

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Re: 30 M

#210 Post by mteller » Tue Jul 19, 2011 11:17 am


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Re: 30 M

#211 Post by hearthesilence » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:11 pm

That's a great f-ing interview. Goes into a LOT more than just "M."

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Jeff
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Re: 30 M

#212 Post by Jeff » Tue Jul 19, 2011 4:41 pm

hearthesilence wrote:That's a great f-ing interview. Goes into a LOT more than just "M."
It sure is. Absolutely worth a read by anyone interested in film preservation and restoration.

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Kino Lorber Blu Ray Release

#213 Post by JeffWang » Mon Mar 25, 2013 2:24 pm

According to Kino Lorber's Facebook page, they are going to be releasing a new Blu Ray version of M, which is based on the recent 2K restoration. Here's what they said:

"There will be a brand new DVD or Blu Ray release [of M]. This is a brand-new 2k DCP restoration from the Munich Film Archive, and includes new English subtitles and restores footage missing from previous versions."

Here's the Facebook posting (scroll through the comments for Kino Lorber's statements)--

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid ... 895&type=1" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

So, does this mean that Criterion's rights to M are going to expire, and Kino Lorber has acquired the rights to this film?

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M Release

#214 Post by JeffWang » Mon Mar 25, 2013 4:21 pm

Okay, I just went back to the Kino Facebook website, and they deleted their original statement in which they were going to release M on blu ray, and replaced it by saying that no, they were NOT going to release M on blu ray. Kino Lorber needs to get their act together.

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Re: 30 M

#215 Post by LavaLamp » Mon Dec 16, 2013 5:54 pm

Just re-watched M for the first time in years, on the Criterion BD. Beautiful print, and great film. The previous print I saw of this film (on network TV about 20 years ago) was utter crap.

The film is quite disturbing, even by today's standards, and Peter Lorre did a great job in the title role.

Though, some of the film was unintentionally comic - the scene when that guy (can't remember who the character was) had the elaborate cigar/cigarette holder was hilarious...

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Re: 30 M

#216 Post by HerrSchreck » Mon Dec 16, 2013 7:48 pm

You couldn't see the deliberate, sly humor in that scene and the way Lang renders the accusatory blubbering of The citizenry lambasting one another from a suddenly puritanical standpoint while mouthing such a pipe? Go back and watch again! There's always things up for interpretative grabs in any film, but Langs stinging irony and human commentary is not something accidental or unintentional.

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Re: 30 M

#217 Post by LavaLamp » Mon Dec 16, 2013 9:32 pm

HerrSchreck wrote:You couldn't see the deliberate, sly humor in that scene and the way Lang renders the accusatory blubbering of The citizenry lambasting one another from a suddenly puritanical standpoint while mouthing such a pipe? Go back and watch again! There's always things up for interpretative grabs in any film, but Langs stinging irony and human commentary is not something accidental or unintentional.
Good points. I will have to go back and watch this film again. There were actually numerous scenes in the film that I found laugh-out-loud hilarious, but wasn't sure if that was Lang's intent since the film was supposed to be a disturbing drama. Other scenes I found extremely funny included:

- As you mentioned, the wealthy fat cats sitting around the table screaming & accusing each other :lol:

- The scene with that gluttonous character drinking beer from the largest stein/glass I've ever seen - incredible :shock:

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Re: 30 M

#218 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Dec 17, 2013 1:38 pm

And don't forget: "Rot" "Grün" "Rot!" "Grün!!" "Rot!!!" "Grün!!!!"

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Re: 30 M

#219 Post by HerrSchreck » Tue Dec 17, 2013 2:00 pm

Of COURSE!! That's another perfect example. Irony and sarcasm soak this film.

How one could watch the scene where Lohmann rolls the hustlers and low patrons in the downstairs tavern, snookering those who think they're clever enough to get over on him--not to mention just the character of Lohmann in general, and the floor shot of the giant ball-sac--and not see how much humor is lurking throughout the text . . . .

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M (Fritz Lang, 1931)

#220 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:17 am

DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, August 7th

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Re: M (Fritz Lang, 1931)

#221 Post by djproject » Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:27 am

What's amazing is that for a 85+ year old film, it is still influential (pretty much every crime thriller and police procedural owes something to this) but also very much relevant today. I try to watch this every time there is some "national tragedy" or "major crime story" ... because we react the same damn way every time; white-knuckle fear, left-field paranoia, accusations and slander, judgements based on emotions and rhetoric rather than on evidence and argument, etc.

For instance, after Elise Beckmann disappeared/was murdered, it doesn't take much for the city to be on edge (again given this is a serial murderer). And what's worse is the hotheaded not only prevails but thrives under that circumstance. When the big prole meets with the "petit" [haha] bourgeoisie and the former suspects the latter to be the child-murderer, whoever shouts the loudest becomes the majority, whether it is true or not. (The little man did set himself up by using a tactless inquiry to make a benevolent gesture. This is why I try to keep in mind Hanlon's razor in interpersonal dealings.)

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Re: M (Fritz Lang, 1931)

#222 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:50 am

I actually watched the film in its entirety for the first time for the Lang list, but disentangling it from its reputation and trying to engage with it on a personal level was more difficult than I had anticipated. Given how influential the movie has been and how powerful it remains (including and especially Peter Lorre's performance, no matter what Domino says), it's hard to comment on much of M's thematic resonance or lasting impact without being repetitive/derivative of what so many others have said.

One of the most interesting elements to me was seeing this as a bridge between Lang's silent work and the sound era, with so many rightly lauded uses of non-dialogue sound - from the whistling to the rabble of the crowds - and yet so many instances of pure silence in the chase scenes. The voice-overs conveying exposition about the investigation or the impact of the manhunt on the city running over montages illustrating, underlining, and sometimes amusingly undermining the information we're given feels notable given how quickly filmmakers in the early sound years regressed to using dialogue or narration as a replacement for - not an enhancement of - the actual depiction of events.

The other masterful touch by Lang that I was floored by was how smoothly the film shifts between the epic, city-wide drama to the smaller, pivotal moments between smaller groups to the personal, agonizing psychology of the man at the center of that whirlwind. The way the film in its final act steadily contracts - from the criminal dragnet closing in on a neighborhood, then the cat and mouse game in a single building, and finally to Lorre's soul-baring confession, alone on the screen on his knees in a basement - expertly shifts the viewers' concerns from the societal to the personal while keeping the narrative moving as propulsively as ever.

Going to be hard to top this on my final list, but then again I haven't sat down with Metropolis yet.

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Re: M (Fritz Lang, 1931)

#223 Post by djproject » Thu Jul 27, 2017 12:07 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:One of the most interesting elements to me was seeing this as a bridge between Lang's silent work and the sound era, with so many rightly lauded uses of non-dialogue sound - from the whistling to the rabble of the crowds - and yet so many instances of pure silence in the chase scenes. The voice-overs conveying exposition about the investigation or the impact of the manhunt on the city running over montages illustrating, underlining, and sometimes amusingly undermining the information we're given feels notable given how quickly filmmakers in the early sound years regressed to using dialogue or narration as a replacement for - not an enhancement of - the actual depiction of events.
That is a very interesting insight.

I would expand on this point to propose Lang wanted to use every possible way for the audience to experience the story. Thus pre-recorded sound was just another dimension a filmmaker could use to heighten a scene, provide atmosphere, enhance the experience, etc. Likewise, the use of either silence or very minimal sound, i.e. Elsie's mother calling out for her to a series of empty shots of the building and the park, also plays a role. In the aforementioned one, it really jump-starts the emotional dread as well as that initial catalyst that will propel the rest of the narrative forward.

As for the use of VO under various montages, I see that efficiency at work. If you are going to have a tense discussion between the government minister and the police commissioner or Safecracker figuring how to catch the serial murderer, at least make it interesting. In the case of the former, it actually makes the point the commissioner was making regarding the difficulties in this investigation. Sure the actors can be charismatic, but more images help the overall film*.

*And yes, there are definitely exceptions to this. In The Silence of the Lambs, for instance, Clarice's memory about running away from the farm and saving a lamb from the slaughter was going to be shown as a flashback. Economic considerations played a role but also the performance helped make it into a great moment for both Foster and Hopkins. There was a reason they got the statuettes that night =D

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Re: M (Fritz Lang, 1931)

#224 Post by Sloper » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:22 pm

djproject wrote:I try to watch this every time there is some "national tragedy" or "major crime story" ... because we react the same damn way every time; white-knuckle fear, left-field paranoia, accusations and slander, judgements based on emotions and rhetoric rather than on evidence and argument, etc.
DarkImbecile wrote:The other masterful touch by Lang that I was floored by was how smoothly the film shifts between the epic, city-wide drama to the smaller, pivotal moments between smaller groups to the personal, agonizing psychology of the man at the center of that whirlwind. The way the film in its final act steadily contracts - from the criminal dragnet closing in on a neighborhood, then the cat and mouse game in a single building, and finally to Lorre's soul-baring confession, alone on the screen on his knees in a basement - expertly shifts the viewers' concerns from the societal to the personal while keeping the narrative moving as propulsively as ever.
What I love most about this film is its tone, and the way this modulates as the narrative progresses. As djproject says, it’s a really incisive film about our (society’s, individuals’) flawed reactions to horrific events. Allegedly, Lang and von Harbou started by imagining the worst possible crime – child murder – and then setting out to illustrate why even in such a case, the death penalty was not appropriate. But seeing the film as a polemic on capital punishment, or as a warning to keep better watch over our children (which both Lang and von Harbou also claimed it was), seems reductive. From the opening scene, M lets us know that we’re in for something very complex and amorphous, and that we’ll have to use our own judgement to decide what to make of it.

The first thing – for me, anyway – that the opening tells us is that this film is not going to sentimentalise the killer’s victims. Lang’s inventive use of sound, mentioned above, is present right from the start: before we even see the children, we hear one of them singing, ‘Just you wait, it won’t be long’ (for some reason this reminds me of Jolson’s ‘You ain’t heard nothing yet’), and here are the potential victims of the child-murderer, taunting each other with the prospect of being bumped off. As we see them from above, the little girl in the centre mimes the ticking of the clock-hand, gleefully counting down the seconds until another victim is claimed. The woman upstairs tells them to knock it off – they wait until she’s gone, then start up again. The French version added a scene at the end where children danced happily in a circle in the courtyard, a redemptive reiteration of this opening game, but Lang would never be so mawkish and cute. He captures something of the cold-bloodedness of children, who can happily make a joke out of serial murder. The film itself is similarly cold-blooded.

When Frau Beckmann looks up at the clock in anticipation of her daughter’s return, we only get a brief glimpse of the hopeful, happy look on her face. According to the editor, Paul Falkenberg (in the audio recording on the Criterion disc), this was because the actor overplayed the sentimentality of the moment, so he and Lang curtailed it in the editing room. And although there is an inevitable poignancy in her anguished cries, echoing over a series of empty spaces, it’s crucial that the camera does not focus on her face, instead preferring to survey the various Elsie-less objects and settings in a clear-eyed, analytical way. Elsie won’t be coming up these stairs again; she won’t be wearing these clothes that are drying in the attic; she won’t be eating off that plate anymore; she’s lost her ball; she’s lost her balloon. The film has told us more than it has told Elsie’s mother – we’ve seen the looming shadow on the poster – so we’re one step ahead of her, observing and interpreting while she panics, much as we will go on observing and interpreting while the whole of Berlin panics.

Lang said that by not showing the murder, but only showing the ball rolling along and the balloon getting caught in the telegraph wires, he allowed the audience to imagine for themselves how horrible the killing must have been. But is that really the effect of those two famous shots? There are two later moments – when the official says ‘We all know in what state we find these children’, and when Beckert himself re-enacts the murders – that do invite us to think a bit more specifically about what Beckert has done, but I’ve always found the ball/balloon shots to be chilling in a very different way.

Compare the portrayal of the murders in Zodiac, especially the one in the park (you’ll remember it if you’ve seen the film).
SpoilerShow
What we see in that scene is in a sense very graphic, and quite traumatic to watch, but part of what makes it so disturbing is the sang-froid of Fincher’s perspective. The most haunting moment is that little gesture the male victim makes when he realises what’s happening: it’s a sort of matter-of-fact, ‘Oh shit he’s going to kill us’ gesture, which gives a weirdly everyday feel to this nightmarish event.
Zodiac is concerned primarily with three men who become absorbed in the case for reasons that go beyond seeking justice or protecting (or avenging) the victims; it’s almost an academic pursuit for them, an obsession that consumes them for personal reasons – and for reasons they are not even aware of. The eyes through which we see the killings are similarly obsessive, perverse, and detached, and this is what makes the film so beautifully uncomfortable to watch. There’s also a strong link to the seemingly apolitical quest of Woodward and Bernstein in All the President’s Men, where we get so caught up in the fascinating, intricate details of the scandal that we almost forget what it’s really about, and what it implies about those governing the country.

To get back to the ball and the balloon in M, there’s a wryness about this method of communicating the fact that a child has been murdered – ‘I guess Elsie won’t be needing these toys anymore’ – that’s kind of shocking. But it tells us that the film will not itself be swept up in the storm of emotions that now engulfs Berlin, and that we shouldn’t be swept up either. We see the killing not in terms of the horrific, cruel act itself, but only in terms of observable facts: we infer that Elsie has been killed from the evidence made available to us, but we don’t actually know what happens to her. And even if the film were able to show us detailed notes on the killings, these acts would still be mysterious to us. If Lang is insisting that we each imagine our own personal version of this horror, he is also insisting that we are all at the mercy of our own subjective biases, that none of us can arrive at a reliable, rational judgement about Hans Beckert. Like the Mabuse films, M conjures up a vision of the modern world where there is a plethora of evidence, where everything is recorded and measured and communicated, where everything leaves a trace, but where chaos and madness remain the guiding principles. When you finally corner Mabuse, he turns out not to be a genius, but a madman; the monster who ‘terrorises 4.5 million people’ (as the Commissioner says in M) turns out to be paralysed by his own fears and his own demons.

In M, there are thousands of witnesses, but no two witnesses can agree on the most basic details. The authorities and the underworld fill whole rooms with cigar smoke trying, and failing, to come up with a way forward. When they finally do discover a solution, Lang gives an ironic cast to these discoveries. First, Lohmann is out of frame while he makes his proposal, so that we’re left looking at the crowd of officials standing still, staring dumbly (perhaps anticipating the eventual futility of his plan, since by the time he’s discovered the identity of the killer, Beckert is already being apprehended and made to confess by the criminals). Then, Schränker is represented by his own shadow while he announces the plan to enlist the Union of Beggars. This underlines his point, that the beggars are ideally suited to ‘shadowing’ the murderer because they are effectively invisible.

It’s ironic enough that the criminals are better at catching the killer than the authorities, but it’s even more ironic that the ones responsible for locating and trapping Beckert are the superfluous cast-offs of society, capable of saving the city precisely because the city has forgotten all about them. That amazing tracking shot around the beggars’ headquarters is a key moment. Lang dedicates his most virtuoso technical achievement to a survey of discarded refuse – cigars, sandwiches and human beings – lovingly gathered, arranged and catalogued by homeless people who are shown to be principled (one beggar considers filching a used cigar for himself, but his conscience makes him put it back) and discerning (Georg John listening to the hurdy-gurdy, carefully regulating what noises he allows into his ears).

In a number of ways, Berlin’s beggars outshine its upstanding citizens – and this isn’t some patronising tribute to the common man, just another part of the film’s overall irony. Another example: the criminals put Beckert on trial, granting him all his ‘rights’ according to the law; but when the defence counsel demands that Beckert be handed over to the authorities, they storm towards him in order to lynch him, scornfully dismissing the authority of the ‘polizei’; then they stop short and all put their hands in the air, automatically submitting to the very authority they had just been mocking. And again, this doesn’t feel (to me) like an affirmation of ‘rightful authority’, since the authorities have already been thoroughly ironised throughout the film. The effect is de-stabilising: a climax is reached, a resolution seems imminent, and then in one moment it’s unravelled by a force we can’t even see.

Although this de-stabilising irony pervades the whole film, Dark Imbecile also makes a really important point about the progression (and contraction) ‘from the societal to the personal’, and this progression is accompanied by a subtle change in tone as we become attached, first of all to some of the individuals looking for the killer (principally Lohmann but also perhaps Schränker, Franz, and the blind beggar), then to the killer himself. Having cast its omnipresent eye over the city to draw parallels, make observations, and point out ironies, the camera becomes an intimate companion to Hans Beckert. We feel relief when we see one girl escape from him, but the camera also makes us empathise with his frustration and despair afterwards. Long before his confession at the end, we can see that he is compelled to do these things, and that the compulsion is unbearably painful for him. (This of course means that we believe his later confession, rather than regarding it with scepticism as the criminals do.) We even share his sense of panic and his desire to escape when he is being hunted down.

This, I think, is why the film feels so bold and daring: it refuses to sentimentalise the victims; when it shows us the investigation into the killings, it mocks that investigation, and blocks our emotional investment in the quest to find the killer; but when it shows us the killer himself, it treats him (un-ironically) as a human being in need of care and sympathy, and makes us identify with him and share his feelings. In this respect it has something in common with certain episodes of Black Mirror. The crowd that looms over Hans Beckert at the end is not unlike the lynch-mob in Fury, and when we see it, and contrast its changeable, irrational judgements with the lucid self-analysis of the murderer, we’re forced to ask which side of this ‘courtroom’ represents the larger societal problem.

Of course, a lot of our emotional investment in Beckert’s plight must be credited to Peter Lorre. He doesn’t flinch from expressing what is monstrous in this character. For instance, when he says that he only feels peace when killing the children, his eyes roll upwards so that we can only see the whites, and he clutches his hands around an imaginary body. It’s a terrifying bit of Jekyll-and-Hyde self-transformation, in stark contrast to the comical faces he pulls in the mirror at the start of the film. In a way, what is even more impressive here is the way that this monstrous figure drains out of him, as his eyes roll down and his arms slump – and he looks like an exhausted, traumatised, helpless little man again. I love Lorre in everything I’ve seen him in, but it’s a shame there weren’t more film-makers brave enough to give him roles as complex and challenging as this (and a shame that he was haunted by the baggage from this role forever afterwards).

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Re: M (Fritz Lang, 1931)

#225 Post by domino harvey » Thu Jul 27, 2017 4:27 pm

...I didn't say Lorre was bad in the film, I said David Wayne is superior in the remake and brings elements to his perf that I don't believe Lorre did or was capable of bringing

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