You and Me (1938): Fritz Lang’s Third American Film, Starring Sylvia Sidney and George Raft

Fritz Lang helmed You and Me, his third American feature, a crime film noir, written by Norman Krasna and Virginia Van Upp.

Sylvia Sidney, in her third consecutive film for Lang, and George Raft play criminals on parole, working in a department store populated with similar employees.

Mr. Morris (Harry Carey) 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, and decide to get married.

William Le Baron of Paramount asked Norman Krasna to write a vehicle for George Raft, and he agreed on the condition that he would direct.

But Raft and Paramount did not want Krasna to helm. Later on, B.P. Schulberg, a producer at Paramount, decided to re-activate the project, and replaced Carol Lombard with Sylvia Sidney. Eventually Raft, who had with Sidney, The Pick Up (1933), rejoined the project. Then, by May 1937, Schulberg was no longer producer and the directing was assigned to Fritz Lang, who had vast Sidney in his first two Hollywood movies, Fury and You Only Live Once.

In his expressionist movie, Lang used musical score from Kurt Weill. Influenced by Bertolt Brecht’s Lehrstucke, theatre that teaches, Lang wanted to make a didactic picture teaching the audience that crime doesn’t pay,  which is a lie, because crime pays very well.”

The message was spelled out at the end by Sidney on a blackboard to a classroom of crooks.

Weill composed music for certain scenes, including the tunes “Song of the Cash Register,” “Knocking Song, “The Right Guy for Me,” “Romance of a Lifetime,”
“The Song of the Lie,” “We’re the Kind of People Who Sing Lullabies.”

Lang himself didn’t like the movie, which was a box office flop.

Cast
Sylvia Sidney as Helen Dennis
George Raft as Joe Dennis
Barton MacLane as Mickey Bain
Harry Carey as Jerome Morris
Roscoe Karns as Cuffy
George E. Stone as Patsy
Warren Hymer as Gil Carter aka Gimpy
Robert Cummings as Jim
Adrian Morris as Knucks
Roger Gray as Bath House
Cecil Cunningham as Mrs. Morris
Vera Gordon as Mrs. Levins
Egon Brecher as Mr. Levins
Willard Robertson as Dayton
Guinn Williams as Text
Bernadene Hayes as Nellie
Joyce Compton as Curly Blonde

Credits:

Produced and directed by Fritz Lang
presented by Adolph Zukor
Written by Virginia Van Upp, based on a story by Norman Krasna
Music by Kurt Weill
Cinematography: Charles Lang
Edited by Paul Weatherwax
Production: Fritz Lang Productions
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date: June 3, 1938
Running time: 94 minutes