After sitting on my DVR for 2 years, I finally got around to watching M this past weekend.
I'd forgotten how hard it is to watch a movie with subtitles, especially with a 19 month old running around the living room. Luckily, German words are twice as long as English ones and I had plenty of time to keep an eye on him while waiting for the next subtitle.
Peter Lorre is Hans Beckert, the whistling killer of little girls. The local authorities haven't caught him yet, but their search is exerting undue pressure on the local crime scene. Because of this, the local crime bosses decide to find the killer themselves and bring him to justice. The film gets off to a slow start, but it gets pretty tense near the end, especially during Lorre's soliloquy in front of the angry mob. It's not an easy film to watch by any means, but the themes still resonate with today's society.
Although the film doesn't come right out and say it, it is assumed that Lorre's character is a pedophile. The Police Graphologist notes that his handwriting depicts "sexual insanity" but that's the only mention in the whole film. Several sources indicate that the killer was based on Peter Kürten, The Vampire of Düsseldorf, who killed men and women, adults and children, for a sexual motive.
For the last several years, theaters have been full of remakes - a symptom of the total lack of creativity among the major movie studios. M is a prime example of a movie ripe to be remade. (Although M was already remade in 1951, another one can't hurt?) The movie-going public would LOVE a film about criminals uniting to hunt down a child murdering pedophile. The mainstream media is already taking a vigilante approach to catching internet predators, what with all the perverts caught on Dateline. Why not update the film to take place online, with the police and civilians racing to catch this guy before he lures another kid into his trap? I vote for Andy Dick in the Peter Lorre role, because he totally looks like the type to sit in front of the computer all day with his hand down his pants.