Pelish’s Gold Mine—Nuggets from Film History Fritz Lang’s M (1931) Starring Peter Lorre

~By Randy Pelish~

Fritz Lang’s film M was the first film to explore the mind of a serial killer. It is still the benchmark against which all other films of this type must be measured. Lang’s first sound film (“talkies” hadn’t been around that long) was also the movie that propelled actor Peter Lorre to international stardom. It remains a stunning portrait of both a man and a society in freefall.

Lovingly restored to its original magnificence, the picture was made during the brief Golden Age of German cinema put to death by the Nazis in 1933. It must be seen.

Lorre’s sympathetic portrait of serial killer Hans Beckert is indelible, but the uniformly brilliant supporting cast includes stellar performances by Otto Wernicke and Gustaf Grundgens.

The film served as a warning to the German people. The Nazis knew this too and banned Lang’s films in 1933. On a grand scale the analogy was clear. Lorre fled Germany in 1933, Lang in 1934. The film is a testament to Lang’s belief that only in freedom is there hope for humanity. He was right.

The film can be seen on YouTube free. The Website is

An interesting companion biography on Peter Lorre is at



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