You and Me
Sylvia Sidney, George Raft, Robert Cummings, Harry Carey,
From its dazzling, disorienting opening montage of cash registers and consumer goods, with an offscreen singer-narrator warning in solemn sprechstimme that “you cannot get something for nothing,” it’s clear that You and Me is not your ordinary romantic fairy tale. Lang said he intended this comedy-melodrama of love, crime, and the retail trade to be “a picture that teaches something in an entertaining way, with songs.” That only begins to explain the film’s peculiar union of Brechtian socioeconomic critique, Expressionist stylistics, and Hollywood genre conventions—with songs composed by none other than Kurt Weill. The plot centers on tough guy George Raft and his bride Sylvia Sidney, both clerks in a department store, and both ex-cons struggling to make good. Their struggle culminates with Sidney in the store’s toy department after hours, delivering a detailed mathematical proof of the theorem Crime Does Not Pay to an audience of thugs—a convergence of fantasy and literalism that’s typical of this strangely charming film.