Newest Reviews
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
Love Ban, The
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
Higher Power
IT Chapter Two
Rich Kids
Glory Guys, The
Serial Killer's Guide to Life, A
Lovers and Other Strangers
Shiny Shrimps, The
Good Woman is Hard to Find, A
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Doctor at Sea
Death Cheaters
Wild Rose
Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Devil's Playground, The
Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Mega Time Squad
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Souvenir, The
Birds of Passage
Woman at War
Happy as Lazzaro
Mickey's Christmas Carol
Marriage Story
Santa Claus is a Bastard
Star, The
Tom & Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale
Newest Articles
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
  M Set A Killer To Catch A KillerBuy this film here.
Year: 1951
Director: Joseph Losey
Stars: David Wayne, Howard Da Silva, Martin Gabel, Luther Adler, Steve Brodie, Raymond Burr, Glenn Anders, Norman Lloyd, Walter Burke, John Miljan, Roy Engel, Janine Perreau, Leonard Bremen, Benny Burt, Bernard Szold, Jim Backus, William Schallert
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The headlines make it plain: there is a child killer loose in Los Angeles, and so far the police have no leads, which is raising the paranoia levels in the city as every parent frets their child could be next. A broadcast is issued on the television telling parents what to beware of, such as allowing their offspring out alone after dark on errands, or playing in remote locations away from the public, but this criminal is making them look very bad. The Inspector in charge of the case, Carney (Howard Da Silva) is already feeling worn down by the pressure on him but knows the problem will have to be tackled head on. Meanwhile the murderer (David Wayne) stalks the streets for a new victim...

M was originally a very well-thought of film from Weimar Republic Germany, created by Fritz Lang as his first sound film and making the best use of the new technology to exploit the noises he could now include on the soundtrack. But as was the case, and is still the case, with hits not in the English language, it was remade in the hope the newer version would find a wider audience, though when this 1951 M opened, the reaction was more wondering what the point of the enterprise was when director Joseph Losey had more or less recreated the source scene for scene, the major differences being the locations and the language, other than that they were pretty much identical.

What the critics and public didn't know was that the censors of the day had only allowed the remake if it was drawn directly from the script of Lang's work, for then, as today, the subject of a serial killer of children was extremely controversial and it was only M's classic status that would permit it even being considered for a new version. Losey was not allowed to change very much - the murderer has a fetish for children's shoes this time, but that was about it - but agreed to take the job as he believed he could create a variation on Lang when the villain was presented as the hero. All very subversive, but you'll search in vain for anything remotely sympathetic about him in the end product.

As in the original, where Peter Lorre took the role, Wayne was simply so creepy that you had a hard time believing anyone, child or adult, would venture within a mile of him, he radiated stranger danger vibes that were blatantly obvious, and since this was in the Freudian era of Hollywood cinema, we had a bunch of supposedly expert but actually phoney baloney psychological explanations that were just too pat to be believable. This was not as deep and searching as it would have you accept, and the flaws in the plot were all the clearer now it had been lifted out of a very specific era and into another one: what you could believe about the decadence of the Germany back then was a lot harder to swallow when applied to the straightlaced nineteen-fifties, especially when the main narrative got underway.

Which was asking us to believe organised crime not only cares about its good image (according to this, that's what it had), but were willing and indeed keen to right wrongs and perform their civic duties like decent Americans. You could just about acknowledge that the Mob were as disgusted by the crimes as the law-abiding citizens, but that they would set themselves up as a stand-in police force and perform the same purpose was unconvincing in this context. The producer Seymour Nebenzal had also produced the Lang film, which added another motive for remaking, to generate funds out of a tried and tested property, but while that had an oppressive danger about it, in the Losey there was the sense of a bunch of Damon Runyon characters suddenly turned serious because of the severity of the crimes. The location work also lent this a position in reality it did not earn to any great satisfaction. Call it an interesting experiment, but it did seem like a cynical cash-in on a well-regarded classic.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 674 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Joseph Losey  (1909 - 1984)

Cerebral, at times pretentious, American director, from the theatre. His American career (The Boy with Green Hair, a remake of M, The Prowler) was short-lived due to the Hollywood anti-Communist blacklist, and Losey escaped to Britain.

Almost a decade of uninspiring work followed, but come the sixties he produced a series of challenging films: The Criminal, Eva, King and Country, Secret Ceremony, The Romantic Englishwoman and Mr. Klein, and Harold Pinter collaborations The Servant, Accident and The Go-Between. He even directed science fiction like The Damned and Modesty Blaise. Not always successful - he also has turkeys like Boom and The Assassination of Trotsky among his credits - but his best films have a cult following with a particularly European flavour.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M


Last Updated: