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M (1931)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  31 August 1931 (Sweden)
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 90,210 users  
Reviews: 276 user | 188 critic

When the police in a German city are unable to catch a child-murderer, other criminals join in the manhunt.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ellen Widmann ...
Inge Landgut ...
Theodor Loos ...
Gustaf Gründgens ...
Friedrich Gnaß ...
Fritz Odemar ...
Paul Kemp ...
Theo Lingen ...
Rudolf Blümner ...
Georg John ...
Franz Stein ...
Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur ...
Gerhard Bienert ...


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


Crime | Drama | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

31 August 1931 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

M  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$6,123 (USA) (15 March 2013)


$28,877 (USA) (31 May 2013)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (2004 Criterion DVD edition) | (2000 restored) | (re-release)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.19 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In Germany, the Nazis banned the movie in July 1934. See more »


Hans Beckert: I can't help what I do! I can't help it, I can't...
Criminal: The old story! We never can help it in court!
Hans Beckert: What do you know about it? Who are you anyway? Who are you? Criminals? Are you proud of yourselves? Proud of breaking safes or cheating at cards? Things you could just as well keep your fingers off. You wouldn't need to do all that if you'd learn a proper trade or if you'd work. If you weren't a bunch of lazy bastards. But I... I can't help myself! I have no control over this, this evil thing ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Referenced in The Brothers Grimm (2005) See more »


La Marseillaise
Written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Performed by Peter Lorre
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

A masterpiece of visual drama; brilliantly acted by Peter Lorre. **** out of ****.
1 June 2000 | by See all my reviews

M / (1931) ****

"M" is a cinematic masterpiece of visual drama. The stunning performances define the careers of exceptional actors such as Peter Lorre and Gustaf Grundgens. Director Fritz Lang gives depth and dimension to his production by distinctly capturing the ecstasy of the film's many characters and focusing accurately on individual situations. This is an intriguing journey into the mind of a psychotic child murderer, blending terror, complexity, and malignity in one amazing motion picture.

Screenwriters Paul Falkenburg and Adlof Jansen construct the characters of "M" with distinctive personalities and three dimensional emotions. Many lesser filmmakers give their characters no creativity outside the confines of the script. In this movie each individual character has a mind of their own; they are free to roam the landscape of a inviting atmosphere.

Fabricating such an impressive atmosphere is some of the best cinematography and lighting effects that I can remember watching. This resplendent component creates the film's terrific moody ambiance. Suspense is one thing "M" contains in full context. The movie's third act is sheer peak-high tension.

Shot in black and white, "M" stars Peter Lorre as Peter-Hans Beckert, an extremely disturbed child murderer in the process of wreaking havoc on a neighborhood. Parents everywhere are living in fear of their children being kidnapped and abruptly annihilated.

This picture contains a brilliantly crafted setup. The visual setting creates a strongly developed opening. Every scene works to either complicate the initial problem or propels the story through a firm narrative through line.

The film captures the chaos of the town in terror perfectly. "M" is more about the results of a serial killer than an actual serial killer. Never do we directly witness a murder; the violent encounters are implied. This method of film making perhaps makes the movie's impact even greater. With an creative perspective through a third person point of view, the filmmakers repeatedly give us examples of a solid structure through characters and occurrences.

"M" offers a unforgettable, challenging performance by Peter Lorre. This extraordinary actor is tormenting and disturbing without embracing in extreme violent conduct. He perspires with momentum and rapture. This productions closing scenes are so deeply penetrating they entirely captivate the viewer. Isn't this what movies are supposed to do?

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