ⓘ You and Me (1938 film)

                                     

ⓘ You and Me (1938 film)

You and Me is a 1938 American crime film noir directed by Fritz Lang and starring Sylvia Sidney and George Raft. They play a pair of criminals on parole and working in a department store full of similar cases; Harry Careys character routinely hires ex-convicts to staff his store. The film was written by Norman Krasna and Virginia Van Upp.

                                     

1. Plot

Mr Morris runs a department store which specialises in hiring former inmates who want to assimilate into civilian life. Two of his employees, Joe and Helen, have fallen in love. Joe is planning on leaving for California.

They decide to get married.

                                     

2. Production

William Le Baron of Paramount asked Norman Krasna if he could come up with a vehicle for George Raft. Krasna agreed provided he was allowed to direct. Then Carole Lombard read the script and wanted to be involved; Krasna says Paramount did not want first-time director Krasna to be entrusted with a Lombard-Raft film and tried to force Krasna off the project. In 1936 it was reported the film would be delayed because Raft did not want Krasna to direct. There was some talk John Howard might replace Raft. Arline Judge was going to star alongside Lombard. Raft was put on suspension and $24.000 of his salary was withheld. However the film did not go ahead.

Then several months later B.P. Schulberg, who was producing a number of films for Paramount, decided to re-activate the project. He replaced Lombard with Sylvia Sidney and the male lead went to John Trent. Richard Wallace was meant to direct.

Eventually Raft - who had made a film with Sidney, The Pick Up 1933 - did the film. By May 1937 Schulberg was no longer producer and the director was Fritz Lang who had just made Fury and You Only Live Once with Sidney.

Lang used a musical score from Kurt Weill. He used it in an expressionistic style. Lang says he was influenced by Bertolt Brecht, who had developed a style of theatre called Lehrstucke, theatre that teaches. "I wanted to make a didactic picture teaching the audience that crime doesnt pay," said Lang. "Which is a lie, because crime pays very well. The message was spelled out at the end by Sylvia Sidney on a blackboard to a classroom of crooks.

Lang says Weill "had nothing to do just then." They worked together and Weill composed introductory music for certain scenes. Lang later said the scene where prisoners were nostalgic for prison was "stupid".

                                     

3. Songs

  • "Song of the Cash Register"
  • "Romance of a Lifetime"
  • "The Right Guy for Me"
  • "The Song of the Lie"
  • "Were the Kind of People Who Sing Lullabies"
  • "Knocking Song"
                                     

4. Reception

Box office

The film was a box office flop. "It was - I think deservedly - my first real flop," said Lang.

Critical

Jonathan Rosenbaum calls the film "among Lang’s most unjustly neglected Hollywood pictures - not an unqualified success by any means but interesting, imaginative, and genuinely strange."

Lang later called it a "lousy picture".

Filmink said "it flopped and Raft may as well have done it with Krasna."