6.8/10
1,509
38 user 20 critic

(1951)

Not Rated | | Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller | March 1951 (USA)
In this Americanization of the 1931 German thriller, both the police and the criminal underworld stalk a mysterious killer who preys on small children.

Director:

Joseph Losey

Writers:

Norman Reilly Raine (screen play by), Leo Katcher (screen play by) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
David Wayne ... Martin W. Harrow
Howard Da Silva ... Inspector Carney
Martin Gabel ... Charlie Marshall
Luther Adler ... Dan Langley
Steve Brodie ... Police Lt. Becker
Raymond Burr ... Pottsy
Glenn Anders ... Riggert
Norman Lloyd ... Sutro
Walter Burke ... MacMahan
John Miljan ... Blind Baloon Vendor
Roy Engel ... Police Chief Regan
Janine Perreau ... The Last Little Girl
Leonard Bremen ... Lemke (as Lennie Bremen)
Benny Burt Benny Burt ... Jansen
Bernard Szold Bernard Szold ... Bradbury Bldg. Watchman
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Storyline

There is a baby killer loose and the police can't find him. He is a sick, psychotic and confused individual, though guilty. The increased police activity trying to find the baby killer is interfering with the mob's criminal activities. The gangsters are not pleased the intense police attention so the mob decides to find him themselves. The mob bosses send the mobsters out to find him. He is found and the young girl he grabbed is saved. A mock trial is conducted in the basement of a parking garage in front of mass of gangsters who captured him and citizens demanding blood. The baby criminal is defended by a lawyer provided by the mob boss. As the police show up, the mob boss shoots the lawyer defending the baby killer because he is doing too good of a job defending the baby killer. Both the mob boss and the baby killer are taken into custody by the police for justice. As the movie ends and the guilty are led out of the parking garage, we hear the spooky single tune played on a flute ... Written by Hal Wigoda

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

DARING! For the first time, the screen speaks of... 'M' ...the worst crime of all! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

March 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

M le maudit See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Superior Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Before signing Joseph Losey as director, producer Seymour Nebenzal approached fellow German expatriate Douglas Sirk and offered him the job. Sirk said he would do the film only if he could scrap the original story and write a new one about a psychopathic murderer of children. When Nebenzal approached Losey, he too wanted to scrap the original story and do a new one about a child-murderer, and Nebenzal told him that the Production Code Administration (PCA) had agreed to allow him to make the film only if the original story and script were kept. The PCA had approved "M" as a remake of an acknowledged classic, but if the story were changed, their approval would be withdrawn. See more »

Goofs

When the killer and the little girl are locked in the room, the large shadow of the microphone boom is clearly visible on the wall on the left side of the screen after she sits down on the floor. See more »

Quotes

Police Chief Regan: To prevent other crimes, your police department has prepared five don'ts. DON'T let your children accept rides from strangers, sometimes these are one-way rides leading to death. The amiable stranger may be a killer. DON'T let your children accept presents from strangers. A bag of popcorn or a candy bar is not worth your child's life. DON'T send children on after-dark errands, the night works in behalf of the killer who preys on our young. If you must have something from the store after sundown...
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Connections

Referenced in Henri Langlois: The Phantom of the Cinémathèque (2004) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Surprisingly good
3 July 2004 | by ErewhonSee all my reviews

Seymour Nebenzal didn't have an especially illustrious career as a producer, either in Europe or the United States. Two of his American movies, in fact, SIREN OF ATLANTIS and this one, were remakes of movies he had produced in Europe. But in this case, he hired the right director.

Was it the growing Blacklist that resulted in this movie having no writing credits on screen? Perhaps, but also perhaps not, as the soon-to-be-blacklisted Howard da Silva and Joseph Losey both use their own names.

Losey and his team make excellent use of numerous Los Angeles locations, including Angel's Flight, Bunker Hill, the Bradbury Building (which is identified by name and location) and what seems to be that old amusement park in Long Beach, although what's seen here could be Venice.

David Wayne is fine as the disturbed child killer, and delivers the required final act speech very well. But he doesn't have the power and poetry of Lorre's performance--but then who in Hollywood in 1951 would have? The movie still has some of the comedy of Lang's original, but it's not as dry and sardonic, and there isn't as much of it. The score isn't good, and shoves the movie even more firmly in the direction of the melodrama it keeps threatening to become.

The very last shot is oddly theatrical in a literal sense: it looks like it is being performed on a stage. And I'm not sure what the point of the drunken lawyer trying to grasp a bit of his former glory really was. However, this element merely weakens the film, it doesn't destroy it.

No, this isn't as good as Lang's original, but Lang's original is perhaps the best film of a great director. It's a classic in almost every regard. This version of "M" is an interesting and largely successful attempt at adapting the themes and ideas of the original to Los Angeles, and to 1950s Hollywood. Naturally there are some weaknesses, but the movie is brisk and engrossing, and certainly doesn't deserve the obscurity into which it has fallen.

Some condemn the film merely for being a remake, but remakes have always been a large part of movie history. There's little reason to object to them, especially now that the original films tend to be available on video. (In the 1930s-50s, originals were generally withdrawn.) If the remake is good, then hooray, there are now two good movies on the subject. If it's bad, then the remake will soon be forgotten.


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