Monday, April 29, 2019

M: The Wrong Movie; Reviewed by David in TN

By David in TN
Sunday, April 28, 2019 at 9:16:00 P.M. EDT

I just watched M (1951) on TCM. It's close to a scene-by-scene remake of Fritz Lang's 1931 version. According to Red Eddie's intro, the critics blasted it, and it did nothing at the box office. A movie about a child murderer didn't exactly draw. Fritz Lang chortled the 1951 film was so bad it caused his 1931 classic “to get the best reviews I ever had.”

Eddie whined about poor Howard da Silva, Joseph Losey, etc. being “blacklisted.” da Silva continued to work. Losey changed his name, went to England, and directed critically acclaimed, nihilistic junk.

M (1951) had some similarity to The Sniper (1952). The “stop-me-before-I-kill-again” trope. Serial killers supposedly “can’t help it.” Losey wants the audience to feel sorry for David Wayne’s child killer.

A leftist doctrine of the time was criminals weren’t responsible for their crimes. Poverty is the root cause, driven to do it, childhood abuse, etc. Nobody can help it.

Around 1960 it became, “white racism causes black crime.” Some variants are still trotted out when considered necessary.

N.S.: The German term for this type of killer was “Triebtäter” literally, “drive criminal,” more precisely, “compulsion killer.”


Anonymous said...

The concept of sympathy for the killer actually dates back to the original movie, where Peter Lorre begs for his life at the finale (I believe he cries out, "How do you know what it's like to be me?"). Of course Lorre and the film are both brilliant, so the audience is taken in, but in retrospect it's pretty despicable manipulation. (Lang's biographer informs us that Lang and his screenwriter wife were not exactly darling people).

Anonymous said...

"Losey changed his name, went to England, and directed critically acclaimed, nihilistic junk."

The Hollywood Ten. As is recalled were blacklisted, prevented from practicing their trade and making a living. Had to flee the country.

Nonsense. The Ten went to live in Mexico. Lived in palatial luxury, wrote screen plays under pseudonym, make a fortune. And "exile" was only for one year for most of them.