This is a very good week. The December 7 schedule
has no fewer than seven serious contenders for the
pick of the week. Care to see which of them won out?

First, a huge list of genre releases:

Now, the non-genre releases:

Now, with all of those incredible entries up there,
some of you are
probably wondering what could possibly be left for
the pick of the
week. That will be M
in its second
release through the Criterion Collection. Those of
us who own the
single disk edition are the only people on the planet
with excuses for
not owning this two disk edition. It’s very
reasonably priced,
espeically for a Criterion release. More
importantly, it’s a
significant film. Have you ever heard of Peter
Lorre? This is why –
it’s his first starring role. Have you ever heard of
film noir?
Well, this was the first. It was also the first
German film with
synchronized sound. It was directed by Fritz Lang,
best known for the
1927 classic Metropolis. His techniques
here are amazing.
There are a number of innovations that Citizen
credit for creating in 1941. Well, this film was
made eight years
before that, and you can see some of those
innovations here. Moving a
camera through a window? You’ll find it here. Using
extremely high
and low angle shots? While not as extreme as in
, the low angle used to introduce the police
cheif and the
high angle used to reveal criminals under arrest are
very clear. Some
of the sets have visible ceilings, which is another
thing Citizen
gets credit for. I’m not saying that
Citizen Kane
ripped this off; given the political climate and the
German origin of
this film, I wouldn’t be surprised if it had never
been viewed in
America when Citizen Kane was made. I’m
just saying that
this should be considered a landmark of world cinema.
Not just for
the technique, either. The story is very dark and
exposed, telling
the story of the hunts for a man who murders
children. Yes, “hunts”
was meant to be plural. It seems that the police
have no leads, so
they’re just cracking down on everything and
everyone. Organized
crime doesn’t like this, so they decide to take it
upon themselves to
track the freak down and put an end to his actions.
I won’t pretend I
can estimate the number of movies I’ve seen in which
the suspense is
derived from wondering whether or not the police will
figure it out in
time. This is the only movie I’ve seen in
which I’m not sure
if I want the police to figure it out in time. Think
about that; it’s
been 71 years since this has been made, and it hasn’t
quite been
matched. (I’ve seen several movies in which the
police as a group are
villains, wittingly or otherwise, and I’ve seen
movies when individual
officers may or may not be villains, but I’ve never
seen one with this
ambiguity.) Throw an ending that obviously wants the
viewer to think,
created in a time when most movies wrapped things up
into a neat
little package, and you have a work of art.

At a conservative estimate, I’ve probably seen about
700 movies in my
life. This is easily among the top three.