M (1931 film)

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M is a 1931 German film about a serial killer who preys on children. When the police are unable to catch him, the criminal underworld begins hunting for him.

Directed by Fritz Lang. Written by Thea von Harbou and Fritz Lang.


  • We're doing our job because we have a living to make. But this monster has no right to live. He must disappear. He must be exterminated, without pity… without scruples.
  • [to Hans Beckert] You talk of rights… You will get your rights. We are all law experts here, from six weeks in Tegel, to fifteen years in Brandenburg.


  • Girl in Circle: Just you wait, it won't be long, The man in black will soon be here, With his cleaver's blade so true, He'll make mincemeat out of you!
  • Children: [singing] Just you wait a little while, the nasty man in black will come. With his little chopper, he will chop you up!
  • Beggar: Stop snoring! You'll wake the lice.


Pregnant Woman: I'm always telling those kids to stop singing that terrible murderer's song… and they do nothing but sing it at the top of their voices all day… As if we hadn't heard enough of that killer.
Mrs. Beckmann: Oh, leave them alone. As long as they're singing, at least we know they're still there.

Bartender: You're ruining my business, Sarge. These raids every night. No one can get a moment's peace! They're human beings, too.
Police Sergeant: You think we stay up all night just for the hell of it?
Bartender: No. But you're drivin' away my clientele and you won't find the guy you're lookin' for here anyway! If you know how angry they are at the guy who's causing these raids every night. Especially the hookers. Sure, they solicit. Business is business. But believe me, in every one of them beats a mother's heart! I know a lot of tough guys who get all teary eyed just seein' the little ones at play. If they ever get their hands on that monster, they'll make toothpicks out of him!

Schränker: An outsider is ruining our business and our reputation. Measures taken by the police and the daily raids to catch this child murderer are hampering our activities to an almost unbearable degree. We can no longer tolerate the fact that we're not safe now in any hotel, bar, cafe or even private home from the clutches of the police.
Criminal Syndicate Member: Very true.
Schränker: This state of affairs must end. Things must return to normal or we'll go under. Our coffers will soon be depleted. If we can't get funds to support the wives of these members who currently enjoy room and board at state expense, I don't know where we'll find the money to carry out our plans. Our reputation is suffering as well. The police seek the murderer in our fold. Gentlemen, when I run head on into an officer from the squad, he knows the potential risks, and so do I. If either dies in the line of duty, fine. Occupational hazard. But we must draw a firm line between ourselves and this man they're looking for! We conduct our business in order to survive, but this monster has no right to survive! No, in my condition, I can't eat anything like that. Without money or compassion! Gentlemen, our members must be able to go about their business again without frantic cops in their way at every turn.

Hans Beckert: And who are you?
Elderly Lawyer: I have the dubious honor of being your defense counsel. But I am afraid it won't be much use to you.

Hans Beckert: [horrified] But… but… do you want to kill me then? Murder me, just like that?
Schränker: We just want to render you harmless. That's what we want. But you'll only be harmless when you're dead.

Hans Beckert: I demand to be handed over to the jurisdiction of the common law!
Criminal 1: Quite a performance! That's not bad, that, ha, ha, ha!
Schränker: That would suit you, wouldn't it?
Conman: [sarcastically] Anything else you'd like?
Schränker: So that you can invoke paragraph fifty-one…
Criminal 2: That's it.
Schränker: And spend the rest of your life in an institution at the state's expense ... And then you'd escape… or else there'd be a pardon and there you are, free as air, with a pass, protected by the law because of mental illness. Off again chasing little girls. No, no. Very dry. We're not going to let that happen.

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 inside of me, the fire, the voices, the torment!
Schränker: Do you mean to say that you have to murder?
Hans Beckert: It's there all the time, driving me out to wander the streets, following me, silently, but I can feel it there. It's me, pursuing myself! I want to escape, to escape from myself! But it's impossible. I can't escape, I have to obey it. I have to run, run… endless streets. I want to escape, to get away! And I'm pursued by ghosts. Ghosts of mothers and of those children… they never leave me. They are always there… always, always, always! Except... when I do it, when I… Then I can't remember anything. And afterwards I see those posters and read what I've done, and read, and read… did I do that? But I can't remember anything about it! But who will believe me? Who knows what it's like to be me? How I'm forced to act… how I must, must… don't want to, must! Don't want to, but must! And then a voice screams! I can't bear to hear it! I can't go on! I can't… I can't…

Judge: [last lines, about to pronounce sentence] In the name of the people...
Grieving Mother: This won't bring back our children. One needs to... keep closer watch... over our children... all of you!

Quotes about M



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