BrianRxm Coins in Movies 64/130
M (1951)
Walking Liberty half dollar helps capture child killer
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The 1951 Superior Pictures film "M" is about the search for a Los Angeles child killer.
 
"M" is about Martin Harrow, a man whose relieves his mental stress by killing little girls.
He has killed several whom he has met at various playgrounds and amusement parks.
The police department is under political pressure to stop the killings.
 
The police have been raiding criminal underworld businesses and the syndicate chief Marshall sends
his men to hunt down the killer. He hopes to trade the killer to law authorities as part of a deal.
 
The film is set in the summer of 1950 according to calendars displayed.
Nothing is said in the film about child sexual molesting.
 
At one point police detectives use a 1940's Walking Liberty half dollar to open a box in Martin's apartment.
M-1951
1. Title
 
Newspapers announce the latest in a string of child killings.
All of the victims are little girls, and the killer removes a shoe from each victim.
 
The police use a relatively new invention to disseminate reports to the public.
 
M-1951
2. Television
 
Most people did not own television sets in 1950 but could watch them at stores.
 
People have become suspicious of men talking to little girls.
 
M-1951
3. Saving the children
 
In this case, the man accosted at the movie theatre is the child's father.
The movie posters shown are for the 1948 film "The Red Shoes", a British film about ballet.
 
Martin's problems began with Mother.
 
M-1951
4. Thinking of mom
 
It appears that he didn't get along with her.
 
The police visit the places where grifters, bookies, thieves, and other shady people hang out.
 
M-1951
5. Rousting the bars
 
The detectives find some loot but no clues to the killer.
 
The syndicate captains contact their workers to watch for strangers around children and offer rewards
for information.
 
Martin has killed again but feels bad about it.
 
M-1951
6. Martin's remorse
 
Martin is holding the flute which he plays to attract children, somewhat like in the old fairy story
"The Pied Piper of Hamelin" who first used a pipe to cause the town's rats to follow him
out of the town and then the town's children.
 
Martin stops at a toy store to watch the model trains and soon is joined by a little girl.
 
M-1951
7. Watching the model electric trains
 
Martin is on a list of suspects because he is a former mental patient.
 
Two police detectives search his apartment.
 
M-1951
8. Police search
 
They find some small trinkets and then spot a wooden box in a closet.
 
M-1951
9. What's in the box?
 
A detective uses a coin to pry open the box.
 
M-1951
10. Opening the box with a coin
 
The coin is a Walking Liberty half dollar and only the reverse is shown.
 
A Walking Liberty half dollar
 
United States cent 50 1942
11. United States Walking Liberty half dollar 1942-S (San Francisco)
 
The Walking Liberty half dollar was made from 1916 to 1947.
 
The detectives find what they are looking for.
 
M-1951
12. The shoe collection
 
Meanwhile Martin is still with the little girl and some young men spot the couple.
One man manages to draw the letter 'M' on Martin's jacket.
 
M-1951
13. Marked man
 
The girl tells him about the letter and he begins running and pulling her along, followed by a crowd.
 
He brings her into an office building and they are both accidently locked into a mannikin storage room
by the watchman.
 
M-1951
14. Martin trapped
 
Martin tries various methods to open the door.
 
Underworld people converge on the building.
 
M-1951
15. Bradbury building
 
The building they are trapped in is Los Angeles's famous Bradbury Building, built in 1893.
The unusual interior design has made it desirable for film location filming and it has appeared
in dozens of films.
 
M-1951
16. Police detectives
 
The wall calendar behind the two men is a Santa Fe Railroad calendar.
These calendars had illustrations of cowboys or American Indians and were very popular at the time.
 
The police detectives hear about the Bradbury Building activities and head for the building.
 
The gangsters hold a short "trial" for Martin where he gives a plea that he is "sick", and
that his mother was to blame for treating him badly as a child and teaching him that "all men are evil".
 
Gang leader Marshall has a "pet" ex-lawyer who starts yelling that his rackets are just as bad for children.
He is silenced by Marshall's gun.
 
The police arrive to arrest Marshal and Martin.
 
M-1951
17. Arresting the guilty
 
Notes:
 
Cast:
David Wayne as Martin W. Harrow
Janine Perreau as The Last Little Girl
Howard Da Silva as Inspector Carney
Martin Gabel as Charlie Marshall
Raymond Burr as Pottsy
Luther Adler as Dan Langley
 
Director: Joseph Losey
Writers: Norman Reilly Raine, Leo Katcher, and Waldo Salt
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