6.8/10
1,732
40 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

A killer is preying on small children in Los Angeles. The police, under pressure from civic authorities, are conducting daily raids on the criminal world. This causes all illegal business to come to a standstill. In order to bring things back to normal, the top crime bosses hold a meeting and decide that as the unknown killer is the reason for the increased police vigilance, they will catch the killer themselves using their city-wide network of informants. If they succeed, not only will it bring them relief from the police raids but public, too, will hail them as good Samaritans. The plan is put into motion. Meanwhile, the police are combing the case files of people with a history of mental illness and commitment to psychiatric institutions in the past. And all this time, the killer is getting restless, getting the urge to kill again. Written by Soumitra

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Worst Crime Of All! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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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 Harrow picks up the bird at the outdoor café, the position of the sugar dispenser on the table changes between when he gets up and then sits down on the opposite side of the table. See more »

Quotes

Police Chief Regan: I tell you, Mayor, we're doing everything possible. We may pick up that murderer in the next five minutes or we may never find him. All we can do is follow every lead.
The Mayor: You're not dealing with a punk or a tin horn, usual procedure won't work! Catching this man is going to take brains, imagination.
Police Chief Regan: Maybe you have some ideas we can use.
The Mayor: IDEAS! I've got a million of them! It's not my job to run this department, it's yours! I've got a city to run, this just one department. People in this city depend on...
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Connections

Referenced in Lola & Her Brothers (2018) See more »

User Reviews

 
One of the most gripping noirs of its era
29 March 2017 | by tomgillespie2002See all my reviews

The poster for director Joseph Losey's M promises to deliver "the greatest motion picture you've ever seen!". This, of course, isn't true; in fact, it isn't even the great motion picture entitled M you'll ever see. The original movie of the same title, directed by Fritz Lang, is possibly one of the finest pieces of cinema ever made, and one that reflected the political turmoil of Germany at the time as the Weimar Republic start to collapse under the increasing power of the Nazis. Douglas Sirk, a German working in Hollywood, was first approached to helm the remake, but wanted to scrap the original premise but keep the focus on a notorious child-killer. This could not happen, as such a grisly topic was banned in Hollywood, but would be allowed if it was a remake of a classic. Sirk held his ground, and so M was handed to Losey instead.

Martin W. Harrow (David Wayne) is a reclusive serial killer who has already gained notoriety throughout the city after a few dead bodies were found, minus their shoes. Inspector Carney (Howard Da Silva) feels the pressure of expectation, resorting to desperate measures by fleecing the regulars at a known criminal hangout in the hope of stumbling upon a clue or lead, as the city's residents are in high- paranoia mode, reporting anyone acting remotely suspicious or seen walking with a child. One old man is hauled in after helping a young girl take her skates off after a fall. Syndicate boss Charlie Marshall (Martin Gabel), seeking an opportunity to divert the attention away from his own criminal activities, rounds up his gang of crooks and brings in drunken lawyer Dan Langley (Luther Adler) in the hope of tracking down the murderer himself.

Any American remakes of foreign masterpieces will always be looked upon with some degree of disdain, and I must admit that I went into M expecting a pointless re-hash of what came before. However, under the disguise of a film noir, Losey's M is a damn good movie, with the panic-stricken city eager to turn over their neighbour in the hope of sleeping easy at night easily comparable with Joseph McCarthy's Communist witch-hunts terrorising Hollywood at the time, which saw industry giants pressured into naming names and exiling their co-workers onto the Blacklist. As Harrow, Wayne is subtly effective, sweet-talking his victims and luring them with his whistle. More focus is given to his character than in Lang's film, and Wayne manages to invite more sympathy than Peter Lorre's incarnation as he is eventually hauled in front of a public jury. It certainly doesn't have the dramatic weight or technical wizardry of the 1931 version, but Losey's effort stands out as one of the most gripping noirs of its era.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

March 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

M 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
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