Willi, a brash young lieutenant in the Austrian Imperial Guard, bent on an evening of pleasure, visits a house of ill repute and gambling parlor. He meets Laura, a sweet innocent girl and ...
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W.S. Van Dyke
William B. Davidson
Willi, a brash young lieutenant in the Austrian Imperial Guard, bent on an evening of pleasure, visits a house of ill repute and gambling parlor. He meets Laura, a sweet innocent girl and spends the night with her, leaving her money in the morning. Devastated with the realization Willi found her a mere convenience, Laura becomes the mistress of Herr Schnabel, an unpleasant but wealthy gentleman. Never quite getting over Laura, Willi is goaded by her into gambling with Schnabel and losing more money to him than he can possibly repay. Laura is unaware that Willi must either pay his debt by the next day or take the only other honorable way out - committing suicide.Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
What a difference time can make. Values have changed so much since this picture was made that no one would think twice nowadays about a woman's virtue - not even the woman in question. This film is set in fin de siecle Austria, and virtue - or lack of - is what this story is all about. Lt. Kasder (Ramon Novarro) is a horndog always 'ready for action'. He meets Laura Taub (Helen Chandler) one night, gets her drunk, and there went her virtue - but the Unsinkable Fraulein Taub wants revenge...
At the start of this picture you might think it's a war picture, or something similar with lots of action, but no. It's drama/romance story which has been done before and done better, most notably in "The Wonderful Lies Of Nina Petrovna" (Russ.1928,silent), one of the best films ever made, but which is unavailable in any format (see my review for details). It's a good enough story, but I can't help thinking it might have been better with better leads. Ramon Novarro is very appealing and energetic, but he has a Spanish accent - and this is Austria. Fair, fragile Helen Chandler, of "Dracula" fame, is pretty but often employs a far-away blank stare to denote - I'm not sure what, particularly. In addition, she appears toothless when her mouth is closed, reminiscent of Walter Brennan.
Overall, "Daybreak" is a good picture worth seeing but which breaks no new ground, and if you haven't seen Ramon Novarro before this is a good look at him and his command of the screen. He is aided greatly by two veteran character actors in C. Aubrey Smith and Jean Hersholt. And it is mercifully short at 85 minutes.
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