Section: Days of German Cinema

Emil and the Detectives (1931) 8

Germany | 1931 | 75 min.

Emil Tischbein is a boy living with his mother, who works as a hairdresser from home so that Emil can go to grammar school. Emil is invited to visit his aunt and grandmother in Berlin for the holidays. His mother gives him 140 marks to give to his grandmother. That's a lot of money, so Emil puts the envelope full of money inside the lining of his coat so he won't lose it. When he falls asleep on the train, a fellow passenger steals the envelope. Fortunately, Emil spots the thief in Berlin at the train station and follows him to his hotel. There he meets a boy named Gustav who helps him put together a group of boys from Berlin to help him. A boy nicknamed The Professor organizes the stakeout, but the boys manage to blab to everyone, so the second day of the stakeout ends up with about a hundred children.

Duration75 min
SubtitleSimultanneous translation into
Directed by Gerhard Lamprecht
Screenplay Billy Wilder, Paul Frank
Director of Photography Werner Brandes
Music Allan Gray
Contact MFA+


Gerhard Lamprecht (1897-1974) was a significant German filmmaker and historian. He studied art history and playwriting and started out as a scriptwriter. He made his directorial debut with the film It Runs in the Family (Er bleibt in der Familie, 1920). His rich and diverse filmography includes Under the Lantern (Unter der Laterne, 1928), Emil and the Detectives (Emil und die Detektive, 1931), Madame Bovary (1937), and Somewhere in Berlin (Irgendwo in Berlin, 1946).