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(1931)

M - Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Mystery, Thriller | 31 August 1931 (Sweden)
When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt.

Director:

Fritz Lang

Writers:

Thea von Harbou (script), Fritz Lang (script)
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Popularity
2,842 ( 273)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Lorre ... Hans Beckert
Ellen Widmann Ellen Widmann ... Frau Beckmann
Inge Landgut ... Elsie Beckmann
Otto Wernicke ... Inspector Karl Lohmann
Theodor Loos ... Inspector Groeber
Gustaf Gründgens ... Schränker
Friedrich Gnaß Friedrich Gnaß ... Franz
Fritz Odemar ... The Cheater
Paul Kemp ... Pickpocket with Six Watches
Theo Lingen ... Bauernfänger
Rudolf Blümner Rudolf Blümner ... Beckert's Defender
Georg John ... Blind Panhandler
Franz Stein Franz Stein ... Minister
Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Germany

Language:

German

Release Date:

31 August 1931 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

M See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,123, 14 March 1931, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$35,566, 31 December 2013
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Nero-Film AG See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

What convinced Fritz Lang to make the film was his reading of the last scene in the script, when a mother ominously warns, "You have to watch your children". See more »

Goofs

[All goofs for this title are spoilers.] 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 »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Home Alone (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Moments of menace..
31 January 2002 | by Nazi_Fighter_DavidSee all my reviews

The economy, austerity and directness of the films of Fritz Lang made him one of the most profound, and precise filmmakers...

Lang, a master of the German expressionist film, shot his first talkie, a crime drama considered a landmark in the story of suspense movies... It was a shocking idea for its time, based on the real-life killer Peter Kurten, headlined as the Vampire of Düsseldorf...

'M' is about a terrorized city, and a plump little man with wide eyes (often chewing candy) who is a pathological child-killer, unable to control his urge for killing...

The film embodies several Lang themes: the duality between justice and revenge, mob hysteria, the menacing anticipation of watching a helplessly trapped individual trying fruitlessly to escape as greater forces move inexorably in, and, for probably the first time in the cinema, it adds a new dimension to suspense: pity... For the killer is clearly mentally sick... He cannot overcome the overwhelming compulsion of his murderous disease, and yet, we see him hunted down and almost lynched as a criminal, rather than treated as a sick man...

Early in the film, the killer is heard whistling the Grieg theme from 'In the Hall of the Mountain King'. This theme inexorably becomes imbued with menace... And when we see no more than a girl looking in a shop window, the melody on the sound-track told us chillingly that the murderer is there, just out of sight...

The Murderer is played by Peter Lorre in a virtuoso performance that has barely been matched in all the thrillers he has made since 'Casablanca,' 'The Maltese Falcon,' and 'The Mask of Dimitrios.' When the photographs of his victims, all little girls, are shown to him, he jumps back and twitches with horror...

With powerful visuals, Lang's motion picture is Lorre's first film... His performance as the corpulent, hunted psychopath is a masterpiece of mime and suggestion... Lorre is the archetypal outsider-outside the law and society because of his compulsive crimes, outside the balancing society of the underworld because he is not a professional criminal... He had only twelve lines of dialog...

In the most famous of all about a pathological killer - Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho' - Anthony Perkins lacked not only the threat of the tortured Peter Lorre, but also the dimension of invoking our incredulous sympathy...

'Psycho' reeked with blood and horror, whereas the suspense of 'M' is subtle... A child's balloon without an owner, a rolling ball, are enough to tell us that another murder had been committed... The audience, trapped in its seats, torn by ambivalent feelings towards the killer, watched him trapped as the net is pulled tight...


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