Thursday, September 24, 2020

You and Me

The opening moments of Fritz Lang's You and Me shows the employees of a department store interacting with their customers. The behavior of some of them raises a few eyebrows. It turns out -- at the insistence of the store's owner -- the employees are parolees.

Two of the employees -- Joe Dennis (George Raft) and Helen Roberts (Sylvia Sidney) -- decide to get married and for a while, they seem happy. But Joe's criminal past is always close behind, and Helen isn't exactly forthright about her own past. What will happen to the newlyweds?

Now a premise like that makes You and Me sound like it's on par with Lang's noir titles like The Big Heat and The Blue Gardenia. In fact, there's a surprising levity to this that one may not associate with it with Lang's work. Thanks to Virginia Van Upp's script, it's a charming oddity in the director's oeuvre.

Lang himself wasn't proud of the finished product but that doesn't mean that it should be disregarded. You and Me was his third film with Sidney so he certainly knew what her strengths were by this point. Likewise, this was a subversion of the tough guy roles that made Raft famous. So all in all, it isn't as lackluster as Lang claims.

You and Me loses steam in its final third but Raft and Sidney keep it going nonetheless. In comparison to Lang's more famous titles, it's more of a breather amid his darker ones. So if you ever come across it in the near future, be sure to check it out.

My Rating: ***1/2

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