M (1931) Poster



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  • When little Elsie Beckmann (Inge Landgut) becomes the ninth child to be abducted and murdered in Berlin (Germany) during the 1930s and the police are wasting their time tracking down unsuccessful leads to the culprit, Underworld boss Schränker (Gustaf Gründgens) convinces the other leaders of organized crime to find the psychopath on their own. Enlisting the help of street beggars, the best persons to loiter unnoticed on the streets and monitor all children at all times, criminals and beggars work together to find their suspect...pop-eyed Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre). Edit (Coming Soon)

  • M is based on a screenplay written by German-Austrian film-maker Fritz Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou. Their screenplay is said to be based on a newspaper article written by Egon Jacobson. A Hollywood remake, M (1951) was released in 1951, shifting the action from Berlin to Los Angeles. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • 'M' stands for 'Mörder' (murderer). When a blind beggar identifies Beckert by his whistling of Edvard Grieg's 'In The Hall of the Mountain King', from the 'Peer Gynt' Suite I Op. 46, he notifies a fellow beggar who chalks an M on his palm and, on the pretense of stumbling, slaps Beckert on the back, leaving the M clearly visible on his coat. This provides Beckert's pursuers with the means by which to follow and capture him. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • It is often stated that director Fritz Lang based Hans Beckert on real life rapist and murderer Peter Kürten, dubbed "The Vampire of Dusseldorf". Whether or not this is true is unconfirmed. Lang denied it. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Organized crime has been undergoing great losses due to the intense search and siege of the police, so they decide to go after the murderer themselves.

    Also, the bartender mentions that the criminals are sympathetic to children, just like most people. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • In the basement of the abandoned distillery a kangaroo court is in session, comprised of the leaders and the members of the various criminal organizations. When Beckert explains to Schränker that he is driven by a voice and an evil impulse he can't control, it is voted to eliminate him so that there is no chance of him ever getting free to murder another child. Only Beckert's appointed defense counsel (Rudolf Blümner) argues that, since Beckert is driven by an uncontrollable impulse, he cannot be held responsible for his actions and should be turned over to the police so that the state can render him harmless. At that moment, the police enter the distillery and escort Beckert away. In the final scene, Beckert's real trial takes place, and the mothers of the slain children listen to the verdict. The ultimate and final comment comes from Frau Beckmann (Ellen Widmann), Elsie's mother, who says that none of this will bring back the children and that mothers must keep a closer watch over them. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Strange, but true. Comic artist Jon J. Muth has created a graphic novel based on M and titled M (2008). The graphic novel also includes a copy of the film. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • "M is a transitional film in many ways, teetering between the realm of silent and talking pictures. It blends dialogue sequences with silent sequences containing music or sound effects. Lang edited the sound in the same manner as the visuals, using them sparingly and with control to achieve specific effects. When little Elsie is abducted early in the film, we hear the killers conversation with her along with his trademark whistle yet only see his shadow (ironically superimposed over a reward sign for his capture). The whistle follows throughout the film, standing as a lasting clue to the murderers presence before we ever see his face." Read more here. Edit (Coming Soon)


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