Unfortunately, to call something “textbook” rings of negative criticism. So perhaps it’s better to say, in the case of M, that Fritz Lang wrote the (text)book on cinematic sound and editing. This has been one of those embarrassing still-haven’t-seen-it films until recently, and despite high expectations, M overwhelms and astonishes the viewer for its pitch-perfect use of audio, whether through sound or silence, to create feelings of unrest, panic, suspense, disgust, and terror. There is hardly a sound in this film that isn’t essential to its theme and narrative. The same can be said for its cross-cutting, using parallel storylines to great effect and equating both sides of the law and both sides of the law-abiding as paranoid and fundamentally disrespectful of true justice. Peter Lorre’s under-performance is refreshing in an age of super-villains. It makes one wonder how much more credit Christopher Nolan and co. would have gotten for editing The Dark Knight had Heath Ledger not stolen the show. Though there are plenty of nuances separating stage and screen acting, many of them are nuances of degree and not of kind. The practice of editing, however, knowing precisely when to cut and what to put after the cut, is distinctly cinematic and raises M to a level of cinema that must have made Andre Bazin and Sergei Eisenstein proud. It also must be pointed out that both in tone and actual story, Mel Brooks seems to have borrowed from this film for Young Frankenstein.