8.3/10
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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
2,619 ( 13)
Top Rated Movies #93 | 2 wins. See more awards »

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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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Judge: [last lines, about to pronounce sentence] In the name of the people...
Grieving Mother: This won't bring back our children. One needs to... keep closer watch... over our children. ALL OF YOU!
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Crazy Credits

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

Alternate Versions

A new, fully restored version was premiered at the Cambridge Film Festival in July 2003. This version features a restored soundtracks, with Lang's originally intended long periods of silence, and the properly restored frame size. The film was previously altered with ambient noise on the soundtrack, and the frame drastically cropped around all four edges. See more »


Soundtracks

Le Halle du Roi de la Montagne
in "Peer Gynt Suite No.1, Op.46" (1876)
Written by Edvard Grieg
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User Reviews

 
A masterful take on compulsive immorality
27 April 2018 | by TheNabOwnzzSee all my reviews

M has to be one of the most influential movies ever made, both technically and psychologically. With an outstanding Peter Lorre, suspense that outsuspenses Hitchcock, excellent cinematography and a deep sociological layer added to it, M is one of the masterpieces of the psychological thriller genre.

It is a film devoid of typical humanitarian propaganda, yet it is not the case that we immediately feel the need to relate to the child murderer Hans Beckert ( Peter Lorre ) since Fritz Lang also shows us the effects his gruesome crimes have in the form of the police constantly raiding establishments, the grieving parents & random people accusing eachother of the murders. It is not a movie that forces its opinion on you, but causes you to think about what is truly right and wrong. Hans later claims he cannot help himself because he has an irresistible compulsive urge to kill which cannot be stopped, much to the dismay of other career crooks who claim they only commit crimes to survive and take no pleasure or feel no compulsion towards it. It is a psychological kind of movie that is still as relevant as ever today as it was in 1931.

Peter Lorre is ofcourse the perfect fit for the psychopathic child murderer, he has the perfect innocent wide eyed look for a psychopath, who seems to even be likeable when he is not murdering children. His signature whistle by Edvard Grieg - In the Hall of the Mountain King is a nice creepy addition to his character which he uses to lure kids to their doom. Ofcourse the incredible shot at the start which focuses on Hans's shadow on the poster that lists his crimes and reward for capture while talking to a little girl before killing her is a great ironic symbolism to announce his character.

It was Lang's first sound picture, yet only two third of the movie was shot with actual sound while everything else was shot silent. This was primarily to keep the costs down since sound equipment was very expensive at the time. It creates a weird mix in constant transitioning from silent to sound. Yet as Lang has stated it adds another layer to the eeriness the movie has, so it only enhances the experience instead of unimmersing you out of the film.

The cinematography is revolutionary in its use of low key lightning, which is a technique that was used many times after in the classic Film Noir era in Hollywood. The result is many Film Noirs share a visual resemblance with M due to their dark tone. Not only visually, but psychologically many themes of M have been repeated throughout the years in cinema. It was one of the first instances of a semi-sympathetic look on a pure psychopathic murderer, which has been repeated countless times in later years.

Some might feel sorry for Beckert for having this affliction of which he cannot be helped while others would prefer to see him hang, the movie doesn't shove the right answer down our throats, and it's possible to look at it from either way without having a right answer. It is a sociological thinking man's picture that is as relevant now as it ever was.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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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, 17 March 2013

Gross USA:

$35,566

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$35,566
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Nero-Film AG See more »
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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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