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(1931)

M - Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder (original title)
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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Writers:

(script), (script)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Hans Beckert
Ellen Widmann ... Frau Beckmann
... Elsie Beckmann
... Inspector Karl Lohmann
... Inspector Groeber
... Schränker
Friedrich Gnaß ... Franz
... The Cheater
... Pickpocket with Six Watches
... Bauernfänger
Rudolf Blümner ... Beckert's Defender
... Blind Panhandler
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

The film was independently backed by an admirer of Fritz Lang who persuaded him to make another film when the director was thinking of giving it all up. Lang eventually agreed to make the film provided that he had no interference and had final cut. See more »

Goofs

[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] See more »

Quotes

Girl in Circle at the Beginning: [First lines] Just you wait, it won't be long, The man in black will soon be here, With his cleaver's blade so true, He'll make mincemeat out of you!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Referenced in Enjeru dasuto (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Ahead of its time
16 January 2010 | by See all my reviews

This is a very interesting film on so many levels. It's interesting to see just how far ahead German cinema was of its American counterpart at this point in time. Although there is not that much talking in this early German talking picture - Fritz Lang resisted going to sound in the first place - what conversation that does take place is well done and natural sounding. Compare it with any American film from 1931 and you can't help but see the difference.

The murderer, artfully played by Peter Lorre, has been killing children that have no link to him personally for months. The police, despite all of their efforts, are unable to catch him, mainly because there is no rhyme or reason in his choice of victims. At first there is a focus on the victims and the hole left in their families by their killing. Then, the film shifts to two normally opposed groups - the police and the underworld. After several months of no results by the authorities, the police are unhappy because it reflects badly upon them, and the underworld is unhappy because their activities are being disrupted because of the police doing constant raids in their efforts to capture the killer.

In a particularly well-done part of the film the scene shifts back and forth between a conference of police and one of the underworld. They discuss how they are going to catch the killer. The police settle upon the idea of looking for people with a history of past mental problems that were pronounced cured and released. The underworld decides to enlist an invisible group - the beggars - to follow every child at all times and therefore catch the killer. Both groups focus on the right suspect, the question is - who gets there first? M is a fascinating film that raises many topics - the death penalty, a group of criminals that are criminals by choice causing less stress on society than a lone criminal that acts out of an uncontrollable compulsion, and the motivations of the authorities often being their own bureaucratic survival rather than the larger issue of ending a series of horrible acts against humanity.


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