M ★★★★½

Contextual info for whenever I happen to re-visit this: No, I'd never seen it before. And to be brutally frank, had only the vaguest recollection of the premise before diving in. And so it came to pass that I watched this tale of a town ultimately under siege by its police force--for reasons they consider perfectly legitimate for the public safety--on the same day that Ferguson, Mo. deals with a disturbingly similar scenario. The subtext, of course, is ultimately quite different; there's a darkly comic undercurrent to the idea that the town's organized crime community has to turn vigilante because the search for a child murderer is cutting into their business. Lorre also gets some phenomenal moments, particularly sitting in that cafe, stewing in the torment of his thwarted attempt at securing his latest victim. Mostly, though, Lang digs into some uncomfortable territory beginning with the terrific cross-cut sequence between the criminal bosses and the police/government officials, each trying to decide on the course of action to find the murderer and get back to "normalcy." As it moves towards the extended set piece of the criminals searching the office building for Lorre's Beckert, and eventually to the kangaroo court sorting through the question of whether a mentally-ill killer is more deserving of mercy than a sane thief, M becomes pretty unsettling as it speculates on whether, when our security feels threatened, we're willing to surrender to whatever gets results. Won't somebody please think of the children?