Daybreak (1931)

73 or 75-76 mins | Drama, Romance | 2 May 1931

Director:

Jacques Feyder

Writer:

Ruth Cummings

Cinematographer:

Merritt Gerstad

Editor:

Tom Held

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The novel on which this film is based was translated from German by W. H. Drake. No information on its German publication has been found. Although a MPH pre-production news item noted that "M-G-M fat lady" Babe London was cast in this picture, her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A modern source notes that this film was photographed with the newly developed super-sensitive Eastman film, which is credited with improving the quality of the picture, especially in scenes where little light was ... More Less

The novel on which this film is based was translated from German by W. H. Drake. No information on its German publication has been found. Although a MPH pre-production news item noted that "M-G-M fat lady" Babe London was cast in this picture, her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A modern source notes that this film was photographed with the newly developed super-sensitive Eastman film, which is credited with improving the quality of the picture, especially in scenes where little light was used. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
31 May 31
p. 10.
HF
10 Jan 31
p. 24.
HF
21 Feb 31
p. 24.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 31
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald
24 Jan 31
p. 55.
Motion Picture Herald
18 Apr 31
p. 42.
New York Times
24 May 31
p. 5.
New York Times
1 Jun 31
p. 15.
New York Times
7 Jun 31
p. 5.
Variety
2 Jun 31
p. 15.
DETAILS
Release Date:
2 May 1931
Production Date:
early-January--late February 1939
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Corp.
Copyright Date:
15 September 1931
Copyright Number:
LP2476
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
73 or 75-76
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In Austria, distinguished members of the Emperor's Guard are trained to live by a strict code of honor that mandates that they pay their debts promptly or pay with their lives. Abiding by the code, Lieutenant Von Lear commits suicide after being admonished for poor conduct and the mishandling of his debts. In an attempt to prevent a similar fate from befalling his nephew, officer Willi Kasda, General von Hartz urges him to marry the wealthy Emily Kessner to rid himself of his financial woes. Willi, however, dislikes the idea of "getting out of monetary difficulties by getting into marital difficulties," and takes little interest in his uncle's arranged marriage. Unhappy at his own engagement party, Willi finds a pretext for him and his pals to leave, and they go to a classy nightclub. There, the gentlemanly Willi saves the lovely, though naive, Laura Taub from the unwanted affections of Herr Schnabel, and she thanks him for the deed. When Willi offers to escort Laura home, she stubbornly refuses him but finally agrees to share a carriage ride with him. The next day, Willi visits the young girl at Herr Hoffman's, where she gives Hoffman's son August piano lessons. The officer quickly and cleverly manages to secure Herr Hoffman's permission to take Laura out by telling him that he is her cousin and that it is Laura's birthday. Laura is furious at Willi for forcing her out, but goes with him to a wine garden nevertheless. There, Laura gets drunk with Willi and she begins to like him. When Willi leaves Laura 100 guilders as a gift, Laura thinks ... +


In Austria, distinguished members of the Emperor's Guard are trained to live by a strict code of honor that mandates that they pay their debts promptly or pay with their lives. Abiding by the code, Lieutenant Von Lear commits suicide after being admonished for poor conduct and the mishandling of his debts. In an attempt to prevent a similar fate from befalling his nephew, officer Willi Kasda, General von Hartz urges him to marry the wealthy Emily Kessner to rid himself of his financial woes. Willi, however, dislikes the idea of "getting out of monetary difficulties by getting into marital difficulties," and takes little interest in his uncle's arranged marriage. Unhappy at his own engagement party, Willi finds a pretext for him and his pals to leave, and they go to a classy nightclub. There, the gentlemanly Willi saves the lovely, though naive, Laura Taub from the unwanted affections of Herr Schnabel, and she thanks him for the deed. When Willi offers to escort Laura home, she stubbornly refuses him but finally agrees to share a carriage ride with him. The next day, Willi visits the young girl at Herr Hoffman's, where she gives Hoffman's son August piano lessons. The officer quickly and cleverly manages to secure Herr Hoffman's permission to take Laura out by telling him that he is her cousin and that it is Laura's birthday. Laura is furious at Willi for forcing her out, but goes with him to a wine garden nevertheless. There, Laura gets drunk with Willi and she begins to like him. When Willi leaves Laura 100 guilders as a gift, Laura thinks the money is the kind of payment one gives to cheap women and is so offended that she decides to leave Willi for Herr Schnabel. Laura soon loses her innocence, and Willi is surprised to find her gambling at a local casino. Later, Willi is visited by his old friend Otto, a married man who is expecting a child and is heavily in debt. Otto asks Willi to loan him 2,000 guilders, and the noble officer agrees to find the money for him. At first try, Willi only manages to raise 300 guilders from his friends, but later he wins enough for Otto, plus a little extra, by betting the sum at a casino. In order to win back Laura, who has told Willi that she would only love him if he were as rich as Herr Schnabel, the officer uses his extra winnings to bet against Schnabel at the casino's card table. Willi's luck runs dry, however, and he ends up owing Schnabel 14,000 guilders, which Schnabel expects by noon the following day. Disregarding his financial failings, Laura returns to Willi prepared to rekindle their romance, and exacts a subtle revenge by presenting Willi with the same monetary gift he gave her earlier. Still desperate for money to settle his debt to Schnabel, Willi turns to his rich uncle for help, but General von Hartz will only give him the money on the condition that he marry a girl of his own class. Willi refuses the terms of the offer and his situation seems bleak until his uncle has a change of heart and loans him the money. After informing his uncle that he is resigning from the guard so that he can marry whomever he pleases, Willi once again uses his wit to get the Hoffmans' permission to take Laura out, and they kiss. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.