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M (1931)



Average Rating: 9.2/10
Reviews Counted: 48
Fresh: 48 | Rotten: 0

A landmark psychological thriller with arresting images, deep thoughts on modern society, and Peter Lorre in his finest performance.


Average Rating: 8.8/10
Critic Reviews: 10
Fresh: 10 | Rotten: 0

A landmark psychological thriller with arresting images, deep thoughts on modern society, and Peter Lorre in his finest performance.



liked it
Average Rating: 4.4/5
User Ratings: 34,595

My Rating

Movie Info

Fritz Lang's classic early talkie crime melodrama is set in 1931 Berlin. The police are anxious to capture an elusive child murderer (Peter Lorre), and they begin rounding up every criminal in town. The underworld leaders decide to take the heat off their activities by catching the child killer themselves. Once the killer is fingered, he is marked with the letter "M" chalked on his back. He is tracked down and captured by the combined forces of the Berlin criminal community, who put him on trial

Oct 20, 1998



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All Critics (49) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (48) | Rotten (0) | DVD (18)

Few films are gripping and effective 82 years after their original release, but this one surely is.

April 11, 2013 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This is a movie that dares to sympathize with a sick person, that risks making the monster real and us (in an era when Germany's cinema was still shellacked in canted angles and fanciful shadows).

March 12, 2013 Full Review Source: Time Out New York
Time Out New York
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The moral issues are complex and deftly handled: Lorre is at once entirely innocent and absolutely evil. Lang's detached, modified expressionist style gives the action a plastic beauty.

February 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An extraordinary, good, impressive and strong talker. Again fine work by Fritz Lang, and his wife and helper, Thea von Harbou.

November 11, 2006 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A subversive film, or more simply a movie brimming over with the ferment of Lang's imagination at its height? You choose.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[An] important film which rightly deserves its success.

May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Lang's razor-sharp dissection of crime and punishment never puts a foot wrong.

September 7, 2014 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

It is a cousin to the early Hitchcock of The Lodger, and I have always found something even something faintly Ealingesque about its cynicism and satire.

September 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Guardian

You'll never look at a novelty balloon in the same way again.

September 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

The movie looms over our cinema like a hand of consequence, haunting us with its austerity and power long after others have faded from the mind.

September 2, 2013 Full Review Source:

Lang's film is a must-see for even a moderately ambitious film buff.

March 28, 2013 Full Review Source: Oregonian

Fritz Lang's acute use of objects, symbols, letters, and codes to decrypt a relatively simple narrative remains as perfect an example of pure cinema in the sound era as one is likely to find.

March 10, 2013 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

...a touchstone, one of those classics that infects the popular imagination to the point that it's really not necessary for most people to have actually seen it to recognize its signal moments ...

May 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

M is responsible for some of the most memorable images and sequences in cinema history

May 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Fritz Lang entered the sound era with a bold expressionist thriller that captured the ugly mood of the years before the Third Reich.

March 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Put simply, without M to show the way, there might have been no subsequent films in which a hidden killer unmasks the ills of the society around him

February 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Fascinating early talkie that made Peter Lorre a star as child murderer hunted by all.

February 24, 2008

Peter Lorre's finest performance, and a truly significant socially-themed film.

June 29, 2007

Remarkable early look at scientific and police detection - and of a city in fear

August 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Classic Film and Television
Classic Film and Television

Even after 75 years, Fritz Lang's first German talkie works beautifully as a carefully constructed thriller and police procedural.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

M is the most dynamic profile of a serial killer in film.

January 15, 2005 Full Review Source: Not Coming to a Theater Near You
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Audience Reviews for M

Fritz Lang crafts a stunning work of dramatic thrills with his 1931 film M. This being his first talkie after years of making silent films, Lang's direction is superb, and this is a film that is tense, and engaging from the moment it starts. The story is very good, and it has enough effective moments to really grab your attention. This is a picture that for its time delivered something that had never been seen before. Beautifully directed and acted, M is a near perfect picture that broke barriers in the way films told stories. With effective, memorable performances, Fritz Lang has crafted one of the most impressive classic films that I have seen it ranks as a film classic that raised the bar in storytelling and it did this at a time where it was almost taboo to tell a story like this. M is a stunning picture well worth your time, and it's a fine foreign film, and it ranks as a masterpiece of cinema as well. I've only seen Lang's Metropolis beforehand, and is a director who can craft thoroughly engaging picture with very interesting concepts and ideas. Metropolis was extremely ambitious in its ideas, but with M he took a step back and focused on a simpler story, and the result is a stunning piece of cinema that is thrilling from the moment it starts. If you enjoy every aspect of film, then you're going to enjoy this picture. The film stands out because Fritz Lang pushed the boundaries of what you could do with a story, and he is a pioneer in doing so, and M resonates because of it. Overall this is a near perfect movie that is one of the finest film classics that you can watch. With brilliant direction and effective performances, M is a superb picture that helped shape cinema for many years to come.
June 3, 2014
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

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 inside of me, the fire, the voices, the torment!

M was the first talkie from Fritz Lang and it still stands up as one of his best films and quite possibly his best talkie. There's a ton of social issues, especially involving the whole pleading insanity thing. A child murderer is walking the streets and the police, despite their hardest efforts are having absolutely no luck in catching him. They follow every lead and scour the underworld looking for him. This begins to anger the underworld and the criminals that use it. Police are constantly showing up and escorting them to headquarters. Still, they can't find their man. The criminal underworld, with help from the beggars decide to take it upon themselves to find the killer and bring him to justice.

M is a masterpiece. A film that is now over 80 years old and still maintains all of its power. Also, all the themes of this film are still perfectly relevant in todays world and will probably always be. Peter Lorre gives a terrific performance, embodying both the evil child killer and the victim of insanity because he can't help what he does.

M is a film for fans of noir style films, Lang, and filmmaking in general. This is one of those movies that must be seen once by all film buffs. Not to be missed.
May 5, 2014
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

A meticulously crafted German crime-drama. Peter Lorre's performance is haunting and inspired, and only complements the sharp screenplay, complex story arc and incisive social commentary.
November 6, 2012
Kristijonas Fussman

Super Reviewer

A masterful exercise in suspense from the decorated Fritz Lang, concerning a child murderer (Peter Lorre) and how his killing spree angers not only the families of those who are slain, but the underbelly society of criminals and thugs who want him off of the street as well for their own personal reasons. In terms of influence and memorability, this film fully surpasses Lang's previous effort "Metropolis", a good but not great film which had an extremely corny ending I could not for one overlook among other problems. This is a polar opposite to that movie. It focuses on a nihilistic society where nobody trusts anyone, and the motives of those involved never seem to be pure and noble. Lorre's monstrous, unforgettably arresting performance really anchors this film, which builds to a devastating conclusion in which those who are hurt the most get to utter the overall message and haunting final words of the film. A phenomenal classic that can not go unwatched.
September 12, 2012
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • M - Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder (DE)
  • M (UK)
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