M (1931)

Director: Fritz Lang Cinematographer: Fritz Arno Wagner

Fritz Lang’s first talkie, which was shot in just six weeks, is set in 1930’s Berlin and revolves around the actions of a serial killer (Peter Lorre), who preys on children. As mass hysteria mounts among the public, a manhunt begins, conducted by both the police and the criminal underworld. Propelled by Lorre’s career best performance (that caused an international sensation) and the fresh use of shadowy imagery and sound, M is both a high point in German expressionism and a huge influence on what would later be called film noir. It’s a visionary masterpiece that even ninety years on still has the power to astound first time viewers.

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  • Peter Lorre as Hans Beckert. M was Lorre’s first major starring role and before it he had mostly been known as a comedic actor. It boosted his career, even though he was typecast as a villain for years afterward in films such as Mad Love and Crime and Punishment. After fleeing from the Nazis he landed a major role in Alfred Hitchcock’s first version of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), picking up English along the way.
  • Otto Wernicke as Inspector Karl Lohmann
  • Gustaf Gründgens as Der Schränker (The Safecracker)
  • Ellen Widmann as Mother Beckmann
  • Inge Landgut as Elsie Beckmann
  • Theodor Loos as Inspector Groeber
  • Friedrich Gnaß as Franz, the burglar
  • Fritz Odemar as Falschspieler (Cheater)
  • Paul Kemp as Taschendieb (pickpocket with seven watches)
  • Theo Lingen as Bauernfänger (con man)
  • Rudolf Blümner as Beckert’s defender
  • Georg John as blind balloon-seller
  • Franz Stein as minister
  • Ernst Stahl-Nachbaur as police chief
  • Gerhard Bienert as criminal secretary
  • Karl Platen as Damowitz, a night-watchman
  • Rosa Valetti as innkeeper
  • Hertha von Walther as prostitute
  • Hanna Maron (uncredited) as girl in circle at the beginning
  • Heinrich Gotho as passer-by who tells a kid the time
  • Klaus Pohl as witness / one-eyed man (uncredited)

Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced by Seymour Nebenzal
Screenplay by Fritz Lang, Thea von Harbou
Cinematography Fritz Arno Wagner
Edited by Paul Falkenberg
Running time 111 minutes
Country Germany
Language German

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