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
Peter Lorre couldn't whistle well so the whistling of "In the Hall of the Mountain King" heard in the film was actually done by Fritz Lang. Although the director had no musical talent, he felt his own off-key whistling very appropriate. See more »
[All goofs for this title are spoilers.]
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[last lines, about to pronounce sentence]
In the name of the people...
This won't bring back our children. One needs to... keep closer watch... over our children. ALL OF YOU!
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All of the original credits appear only in the beginning with no music. See more »
In the English and French language versions, in addition to having been dubbed, had some footage re shot. These scenes include the telephone conversation between the minister and the police commissioner, and the ending of the film. Peter Lorre's performance in the trial was re shot, however this time he spoke his lines in English or French, depending upon the version. The shots of him are lit and photographed much differently than Fritz Lang's original footage. Additionally, a shot of the police arriving was inserted, taken from an earlier part of the film (whereas in the original German version no police forces are shown at all). The court scenes have been eliminated and replaced with happy endings where young children play a game similar to the one seen in the opening (English) or a smiling couple watching their children play in the street (French). See more »
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.
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