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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