14 user 16 critic

The Devil Strikes at Night (1957)

Nachts wenn der Teufel kam (original title)
A serial killer strikes again during WWII in Germany. The wrong man is arrested and a detective hunts down the real killer. But justice in Nazi Germany is not so easily administered.


Robert Siodmak
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 13 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Claus Holm ... Kriminalkommissar Axel Kersten
Annemarie Düringer ... Helga Hornung
Mario Adorf ... Bruno Lüdke
Monika John ... Lucy Hansen
Carl Lange ... Major Thomas Wollenberg (as Karl Lange)
Werner Peters ... Willi Keun
Rose Schäfer Rose Schäfer ... Anna Hohmann
Hannes Messemer ... SS-Gruppenführer Rossdorf
Peter Carsten ... SS-Standartenführer Mollwitz
Wilmut Borell Wilmut Borell ... SS-Obersturmführer Heinrich
Helmut Brasch Helmut Brasch ... SS-Truppenführer Scharf
Walter Janssen ... Kriminalrat Boehm
Georg Lehn Georg Lehn ... Kriminalassistent Bruehl
Ernst Fritz Fürbringer ... Dr. Schleffien
Else Quecke Else Quecke ... Frau Lehmann


A serial killer strikes again during WWII in Germany. The wrong man is arrested and a detective hunts down the real killer. But justice in Nazi Germany is not so easily administered.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


MARIO ADORF...Watch him explode...as a shocked nation attempts to bury his hideous secret See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller


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Did You Know?


Official submission of West Germany for the 'Best Foreign Language Film' category of the 30th Academy Awards in 1958. See more »

User Reviews

The "serial-killer movie" is not an American invention
17 April 2001 | by ChWasserSee all my reviews

There is a strange continuity in German movies: about every 20 years someone makes a film about a serial-killer. Apart from "Es geschah am hellichten Tag" (recently remade by Sean Penn) I'm thinking of the following works:

* M - Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder (1931)

* Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam (1957)

* Die Zärtlichkeit der Wölfe (1973)

* Der Totmacher (1995)

While three of these films are more or less loosely based on the case of Fritz Haarmann who killed more than 24 young men in the 20s, "Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam" is about Bruno Luebke who murdered several people in Hamburg during WWII (also a true case). In contrast to the picture that many American movies (e.g. "Hannibal") paint of a serial-killer as an evil being who kills for pleasure, these German movies show men who are helpless victims of their urge to kill, to which they succumb not when they want to, but when they 'have' to. Mario Adorf plays Bruno as such a man and his performance is of the same rank as Peter Lorre's in "M" or Götz George's in "Totmacher" IMO.

Even better is Hannes Messemer as an SS-Officer, who, for 'political' reasons, wants another man executed against better judgement. The main forte of the film however, is the depiction of everyday-life in the last years of the third Reich. In the scene where the ugly harvest helpers get their reward from a sweating hanger-on Robert Siodmak perfectly captured the moral corruption (thinly veiled by empty propaganda phrases) within Nazi-Germany. In view of mass-murder of an entirely different caliber (i.e. genocide), the question if the right man is sentenced for a killing series becomes secondary in the end.

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West Germany



Release Date:

19 September 1957 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

The Devil Strikes at Night See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Divina-Film See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (Klangfilm Eurocord)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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