Spies/M

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

In Spies, Detective Donald Tremaine (Willy Fritsch) is on a mission to infiltrate and shut down a crime ring headed up by a wheel chair ridden banker, Haghi (Rudolf Klien-Rogge). But Tremaine is not aware that Haghi is the man in charge of the criminal circle and he soon finds himself a pawn in Haghi’s evil plans. While on the case Tremaine falls head over heels for one of the spies in the ring Sonia (Gerda Maurus), a beautiful and intelligent woman. As time passes, Tremaine and Sonia attempt to work together to foil Haghi’s plans for world domination, before he ends up destroying it first. But can Tremaine really trust one of Haghi’s own spies? In the second film M, the storyline is much darker. The streets of a German city are being haunted by a killer, but not a normal killer. This man Hans (Peter Lorre) preys upon one specific victim pool, he murders children. As the body count rises it seems as though the police will never catch the killer, as they’ve no luck as of yet. The police decide to be more complete in their searches, which means other criminals come under the law’s microscope. In an effort to end these searches, the criminals themselves begin a manhunt for the killer. So now this killer has both sides of the law looking for him, but he still wants to keep his spree alive.

This is a double dose of Fritz Lang films and I for one couldn’t be happier to see this release. These movies are good enough to buy on their own, but to find them both one disc is a real treat indeed. Spies is Lang’s final silent film and is a very good suspense film and seems very much like a silent version of a James Bond film. Of course the stunts and effects aren’t present, but the tone and storyline seem along the same lines. This is as I mentioned a silent film, so if you need dialogue to keep you awake, this isn’t a film for you. But for fans of silent cinema and Lang in specific, this is very intriguing picture. The second film in this double feature is M, which is an all time film classic to be sure. The storyline is quite disturbing, but the acting is excellent with Lorre giving one of the best screen performances ever. This title is a must have for any serious film buff, so make you sure check this one out. In between the movies you’ll see a Felix The Cat cartoon, which gives a real theater feel to the release. While I love the movies, this disc doesn’t do them the justice they deserve. The video on both leaves much to be desired, but if you’re a Lang fan and want to kill two birds with one stone, then rent this one and see what you think.

These films were directed by Fritz Lang, one of the true masters of the directorial arts. I feel as though I can’t do justice to Lang in mere words, so make sure to explore his film resume, you’ll be glad you did. In Spies, the leads are played by Gerda Maurus, Willy Fritsch, and Rudolf Klien-Rogge, all of whom turn in superb roles even though they never speak a word of dialogue we can hear. Fritsch (Vienna Blood, The Bat) plays his character very well and brings James Bond to mind at times, which is a compliment of course. While Maurus (The Lucky Seven, Invisible Opponent) may seem like just another pretty face, she is very good in this role. I feel that Klien-Rogge (The Last Will of Dr. Mabuse) steals this show though, with his excellent turn as the evil genius. The supporting cast also includes Fritz Rasp (The Strange Countess), Louis Ralph (The Upright Sinner), and Lupu Pick (A Knight In London). In M, Peter Lorre (Casablanca) takes the center spotlight and gives one of the finest turns of all time as the screen’s first serial killer. The supporting cast for this film includes Theodor Loos (Comrades At Sea, Final Accord), Otto Wernicke (The Castle In Flanders), and Ellen Widmann (White Hell).

Video: How does it look?

Both Spies and M are presented in the original 1.33:1 or full frame aspect ratio. This is the weakest area on this release, as both films show signs of serious aging and damage. It seems as though little to no restoration has been done either. But given the age and condition of the source materials, Spies is an adequate transfer with solid contrast and only moderate flecks and nicks. M on the other hand seems like a VHS to DVD transfer at times and is heavily damaged by flecks and dirt marks. While this release has video that is watchable, you might want to rent this before you purchase.

Audio: How does it sound?

While Spies is a silent film, a mono organ soundtrack is included. The music seems good enough, though some minor distortion does come up. The audio for M is also the original mono track and it sounds adequate. I did hear some hiss, but it was not distracting in the least. These aren’t the best tracks out there, but they manage to get the job done.

Supplements: What are the extras?

You’ll find a biography and filmography for Lang on this disc, as well as a Felix the Cat cartoon.

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