Friday, November 12, 8 p.m.
Rozz-Tox, 2108 Third Avenue, Rock Island IL
Currently holding a perfect 100-percent critical-approval rating on RottenTomatoes.com, Fritz Lang's classic 1931 thriller M enjoys a November 12 screening at Rozz-Tox, this breakthrough for star Peter Lorre the latest presentation in the Kinogarten series of acclaimed, German-themed works hosted by the Rock Island venue and Davenport's German American Heritage Center.
Preying on unsuspecting, innocent children, the elusive psychopath of M (played by Lorre) spreads terror and confusion in the heart of 1930s Berlin without leaving a trace. More and more, as the police comb the city's cruel urban maze, unable to sniff out any clues and ferret out the ruthless and unstoppable serial killer, the suffocating stranglehold of the law tightens around the local criminal network. As the hideous monster remains at large, whistling the same tune to lure his pure victims to their deaths, an all-out manhunt commences. Now, thieves, beggars, prostitutes, and thugs team up to find the murderer. But who can stop this invisible dragon of Berlin? The film's screenplay was written by director Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou, and was the German artist's first motion picture presented with sound. M has been hailed for its many cinematic innovations, including the use of long, fluid tracking shots, and a musical leitmotif in the form of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" whistled by Lorre's character.
Now considered a timeless classic, the film was deemed by Lang to be his magnum opus, and is widely considered one of the greatest movies of all time, as well as an indispensable influence on modern crime and thriller fiction. With Rotten Tomatoes' critical consensus calling the work "a landmark psychological thriller with arresting images, deep thoughts on modern society, and Peter Lorre in his finest performance," Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle awarded the work five out of five stars, deeming it "one of the greatest of all German Expressionistic films." In 1997, critic Roger Ebert added M to his "Great Movies" list, proposing that Lang's limited use of dialogue was a critical factor in the film's success, in contrast with many early sound films which "felt they had to talk all the time." Ebert also argued that the film's characters, nearly all grotesques, embodied Lang's distaste for his adopted homeland, saying, "What I sense is that Lang hated the people around him, hated Nazism, and hated Germany for permitting it."
M will be presented in German with English subtitles, and the film's November 12 Rozz-Tox screening will be held indoors at 8 p.m. German beer and snacks will be available for purchase along with the venue's traditional fare, and the screening itself is free. For more information on the evening and the Kinogarten film series, visit RozzTox.com and the German American Heritage Center at GAHC.org.