Scen.: Hans Székely, Robert Liebmann. F.: Friedl Behn-Grund, Bernhard Wentzel. M.: Viktor Gertler, Heinz G. Janson. Scgf.: Otto Hunte. Mus.: Werner Richard Heymann. Canzoni: WernerRichard Heymann, Robert Gilbert. Int.: Käthe von Nagy (Grete), Willy Fritsch (Hans), Amanda Lindner (Cornelia Seidelbast), Julius Falkenstein (Krüger), Elisabeth Lennartz (Trude), AlbertLieven (Wolf). Prod.: Universum-Film AG (UFA) DCP. D.: 96’. Bn
Willy Fritsch, probably the biggest German film star of his time, was closely connected to the success of the Tonfilmlustspiel, especially regarding the lavish musical extravaganzas Erich Pommer produced for UFA in the early 1930s. In the most famous of these, Fritsch was coupled with Lilian Harvey, a supremely athletic dancer and dynamic physical comedienne. The finest hour of both the actor and thePommer unit might be Ich bei Tag und Du bei Nacht, though. In “one of the crowning glories of the German musical” (Peter von Bagh),Fritsch encounters not Harvey, but Käthe von Nagy, a completely different and more versatile actress with the ability to gently poke fun atthe signature cockiness of her co-star, while at the same time still falling under his spell.
Ludwig Berger’s fluid, elegant direction does not try to emulate the expansive spectacle of UFA blockbusters such as Erik Charell’s Der Kongress tanzt, but opts for a smaller, more intimate framework. A tale of interiors and interiorities, a comedy of mistaken identity that folds in on itself. The designated lovers, manicurist Grete (von Nagy) and waiter Hans (Fritsch), sleep in the same bed from the start, she at night and he during the day… so it’s just a question of getting both of them in there at the same time; a question of synchronizing, ofblending two lives, two space-times – and also, by way of an irony-fueled meta-filmic discourse – two movies into each other. So in the end Ich bei Tag und Du bei Nacht is not about romantic conquest, but about matchmaking and filmmaking becoming one and the same: anartistic practice giving us access to our own desires.