8.4/10
112,533
309 user 199 critic

(1931)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 31 August 1931 (Sweden)
When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt.

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(script), (script)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Ellen Widmann ...
...
...
Theodor Loos ...
...
Friedrich Gnaß ...
...
The Cheater
...
...
Bauernfänger
Rudolf Blümner ...
Beckert's Defender
Georg John ...
Franz Stein ...
Minister
Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur ...
Police Chief
Gerhard Bienert ...
Criminal Secretary
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Storyline

In Germany, Hans Beckert is an unknown killer of girls. He whistles Edvard Grieg's 'In The Hall of the Mountain King', from the 'Peer Gynt' Suite I Op. 46 while attracting the little girls for death. The police force pressed by the Minister give its best effort trying unsuccessfully to arrest the serial killer. The organized crime has great losses due to the intense search and siege of the police and decides to chase the murderer, with the support of the beggars association. They catch Hans and briefly judge him. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

IT STAGGERS THE SENSES!...SHOCKS the Imagination - It will leave you Gasping - It is the Sensation of 3 Continents!


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

31 August 1931 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

M  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,123, 14 March 1931, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$28,877, 2 June 2013
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (2004 Criterion DVD edition) | (2000 restored) | (re-release)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Because he had directed several crime thrillers in the past, Fritz Lang had developed a positive rapport with the Berlin police and had made several influential contacts. He was able to exploit these connections, particularly those in the homicide bureau, in order to meet and interview several actual murderers in preparation for this film. See more »

Quotes

[to union member asleep next to him]
Beggar's Union Member: Stop snoring! You'll wake up the lice.
See more »

Crazy Credits

All of the original credits appear only in the beginning with no music. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Shadows and Fog (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

La Marseillaise
(uncredited)
Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Performed by Peter Lorre
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
German Expressionism at its cinematic best
2 May 2003 | by See all my reviews

Being a huge fan of German Expressionist art, I'm naturally drawn to the films of Fritz Lang. I recently was able to see the restored version of "Metropolis" on the big screen, and was delighted to see "M" on the Sundance channel - especially since it was the uncut version. M follows the trail of a child killer (Peter Lorre), sought both by the police and the members of the underworld whose businesses are being effected by the investigation.

This film is ground-breaking for many reasons: It is Fritz Lang's first talking picture, it is one of the first in the serial killer genre and it was overtly anti-Nazi. This film was banned in Germany shortly after it premiered, and Fritz Lang and Peter Lorre, both Jews, soon fled the country. It has superb acting (most notably, Peter Lorre's trial scene in the catacombs) and very stark yet at times gritty cinematography. The story is indeed suspenseful and at times, very creepy (what whistling child killer isn't?). The entire movie, however is extremely thought-provoking and challenging, much like the German Expressionist movement itself.

This is not a movie for everyone; some may find it boring, some may find it too abstract. It also has one of the most bizarre shots I've ever seen in film - essentially it's a 30 second shot of the police inspector talking on the phone, but you're under his desk and looking up his pants leg. It actually kind of baffled me and made me chuckle for a second, but it was avant garde if anything.

To those who appreciate early cinema that truly makes you think, both about the film and the subtext with which it was written and filmed, it is a must-see.

--Shelly


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