155. M (1931)

The opening scene of this German Expressionist film has children singing about a murderer and the black, foreboding tone is set from the start.

A number of children have gone missing around Berlin, and posters warn people to be on the lookout for suspicious behaviour. Peter Lorre sits at a window writing a postcard to the police, then spots a young girl on her own. Lorre is, of course, the murderer in question, and it doesn’t take long for there to be yet another missing child.

I’m pretty sure that a film like M wouldn’t be made today – in fact I can only imagine the Daily Mail headlines if it was, as it’s dark, dangerous and horrific. Made in the same year as both Dracula and Frankenstein, Lorre’s child murderer far surpasses Lugosi’s Count and Karloff’s Monster in terms of the worst bogeyman of that year.


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