Release dateMarch 1951 (1951-03) (United States) WriterLeo Katcher (scenario revisions), Norman Reilly Raine (scenario revisions), Waldo Salt (additional dialogue) ScreenplayFritz Lang, Norman Reilly Raine, Leo Katcher CastDavid Wayne (Martin W. Harrow), Howard Da Silva (Inspector Carney), Martin Gabel (Charlie Marshall, crime boss), Luther Adler (Dan Langley), Steve Brodie (Lt. Becker), Raymond Burr (Pottsy) Similar moviesThe Big Sleep, The Asphalt Jungle, The Third Man, Detour, Notorious, They Live by Night
TaglineThe most gripping motion picture you've ever seen!
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M is a 1951 American film noir and a remake, directed by Joseph Losey, of Fritz Lang's 1931 German film of the same name. This version shifts the action from Berlin to Los Angeles and changes the killer's name from Hans Beckert to Martin W. Harrow. Both versions of M were produced by Seymour Nebenzal, whose son, Harold, was associate producer of the 1951 version.
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Martin W. Harrow (David Wayne) is a compulsive child-murderer who is tracked down and then placed on trial by the criminal underworld in Los Angeles. Syndicate chieftain Marshall (Martin Gabel) organizes his fellow crooks in order to bring "M" to justice, thereby keeping the police off their own backs. Found guilty by his "peers" and sentenced to death, "M" makes an impassioned plea for his life, explaining that he is unable to stop himself from committing his unspeakable crimes.
David Wayne as Martin W. Harrow
Howard Da Silva as Inspector Carney
Martin Gabel as Charlie Marshall
Luther Adler as Dan Langley
Steve Brodie as Lt. Becker
Raymond Burr as Pottsy
Glenn Anders as Riggert
Norman Lloyd as Sutro
Walter Burke as MacMahan
Jim Backus as The Mayor
The film was shot on location in downtown Los Angeles, including the now demolished Victorian neighborhood of Bunker Hill. David Wayne's murderous character lived at an eccentric Victorian mansion on Bunker Hill Avenue known as the Max Heindel house, because Heindel, a famous astrologer in the early twentieth century, had once lived there. Some scenes were shot on and around the funicular Angels Flight on Third Street. But the most spectacular location footage takes place within a lengthy sequence shot inside the famous Bradbury Building on the southeast corner of Broadway and Third (just a block east of Angels Flight). Director Losey used the basement, the distinctive stairways and balconies, and the roof of the building. The Bradbury, which has been used in many films, including Blade Runner, because of its unique wrought-iron and brick beauty, remains a popular but restricted tourist attraction today.
When the film was released, an anonymous reviewer at Variety wrote: "David Wayne, as the killer of small children, is effective and convincing. Luther Adler, as a drunken lawyer member of a gangster mob, turns in an outstanding performance, as do Martin Gabel, the gang-leader, and Howard da Silva and Steve Brodie as police officials ... Joseph Losey’s direction has captured the gruesome theme skilfully."