M is for Mickey

Mickey Mouse turns up in the damnedest places. Here he is in Fritz Lang’s M. Twice! I will stick my neck out and say that Nero Film did not pay royalties to Disney.

Screened this for my students on Monday — the film seems to hit me in fresh ways every time I see it. There’s so much in it you can’t retain everything, though, so it’s entirely possible my response this time was the same as last and I’m just forgetting.

It’s FUNNIER than I remembered. But I think I was the only one laughing.

After the success of STEAMBOAT BILL JR last week — the joyous sound of helpless giggling predominated — it was more suspensful — for me — this time, since M doesn’t provoke constant audible reactions. You can only guess if it’s playing well. Though there are enough deadly silences that it would have been obvious if people were restless.

But when the felon-vigilantes exit the building where they’ve trapped the killer, carrying him in a bundle, there was an audible gasp. Interesting to examine why. The film hasn’t really explained what the crooks will do with their prey when they get him, but I think we’ve assumed they’ll kill the blighter. So to see him hauled off, blinded and bound in coats, causes a sudden upsurge of dread — it’s going to be worse than we thought.

And, of course, it IS — Peter Lorre is on his way to cinema’s scariest room…

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7 Responses to “M is for Mickey”

  1. Andreas Flohr Says:

    @ “cinema’s scariest room”:
    Jacques Rivette said the same about Isabella Rossellini’s appartement in Blue Velvet.
    @Mickey Mouse in M: there’s another famous American icon in M: a Wrigley’s Chewing Gum billboard on a Berlin Bus.

  2. Yes, and lots of product placement, or the 30s equivalent. Lorre is caught because he smokes Ariston. Ariston was a real, newly formed Italian company (still extant – they did some ground-breaking ads in the 90s) but I can find no evidence they ever made cigarettes.

  3. Andreas Flohr Says:

    Ariston was a cigar brand of the Muratti Zigarettenfabrik Berlin, nothing to do with the Italian firm.
    More useless trivia apropos Ariston:
    Another scary room, Alain Delon’s apartment in Le Samourai, has an electric stoven from Ariston.

  4. LinesOfMo Says:

    More product placement: Another scene with a shop window features the logo for German Knife manufacturer “Zwilling J.A.Henckels” depicting (what else) a pair of twins, which still exists unchanged to this day and always reminds me of M, whenever I see it.

  5. Oh wow! I should frame-grab it. Perhaps the name has some kind of resonance for killers…

  6. Product placement was experimented with (mostly by Paramount) in the US during the early ’30s, a rather obvious example being the Fields short THE PHARMACIST.

  7. It was illegal here in the 80s when Coca Cola owned Columbia and American movies were full of it. Those movies still played in UK cinemas, so the ban was just a way to place Brit filmmakers at a further disadvantage. Though I guess it spared us a few love scenes played in front of neon advertisments, a la Top Gun.

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