Gypsies of the Night

Original Title: Zigeuner der Nacht. Crime comedy 1932; 77 min.; Director: Hanns Schwarz; Cast: Jenny Jugo, Hans Brausewetter, Paul Kemp, Anton Pointner, Paul Heidemann, Egon Brosig, Theo Lingen, Willi Schur, Julius Falkenstein, Alfred Beierle; H. M.-Tobis-Klangfilm.

A cinema projectionist is abducted after showing a film to a gang of men in a villa. He escapes but later meets a young woman, the gang leader’s sister. They become involved in a diamond theft, mistaken identity cases, and a police investigation. The projectionist and the woman develop a connection, outsmarting the gang, leading to their liberation and a new bond.

In a small suburban cinema, Karl, the projectionist, finishes the last screening and steps onto the street to wait for his friend Julius, the cinema’s pianist. Holding a lit cigarette, he waits when suddenly a luxury limousine screeches to a halt next to him. A gentleman asks Karl for a light, but in that very moment, he is forcefully grabbed and pulled into the car. The car comes to a stop in front of a secluded villa where Karl is taken inside by four men in tuxedos, who hold him at gunpoint and compel him to screen a film. To his surprise, Karl notices that one of the men is putting on a mask that strikingly resembles the face of the diamond dealer Holst, who appeared in the film just shown. After receiving payment of 100 marks, he departs from the villa.

He calls a police officer and urgently requests the arrest of the criminal gang in the villa. To his astonishment, the officer turns out to be a member of the gang, and Karl is imprisoned. With tremendous effort, he manages to break through the door panel and suddenly finds himself face to face with Lissy, the sister of the gang leader, who has been assigned to guard the captive. Lissy holds a gun, but her fear of the weapon outweighs Karl’s. Only Lissy’s captivating eyes and pleas can dissuade Karl from leaving the house.

Meanwhile, the diamond dealer Holst negotiates the purchase of valuable jewels at the Savoy Hotel. Disguised as a waiter, a gang member lures him to the phone. In the meantime, the imposter Holst arrives and retrieves the precious jewelry.

Just as Karl and Lissy prepare to leave the house, the gang returns with their ill-gotten gains. Karl is captured and imprisoned in the cellar. While the gang revels in their triumph upstairs, Lissy manages to free Karl, and they both escape to his apartment.

The next morning, Karl goes out to get breakfast. Upon his return, he finds the apartment empty, believing that Lissy has been recaptured by the gang. He hurries to the villa, which is already under police surveillance. Karl is apprehended as the police mistakenly believe they have captured a member of the gang. Meanwhile, Lissy, who went out to buy some flowers, anxiously awaits Karl’s return. Julius, the pianist, visits Karl, and together they retreat to Julius’ adjacent room. As this unfolds, the police raid Karl’s apartment and discover a valuable ring among the stolen jewels during their search. In the neighboring room, Lissy learns of Karl’s arrest. She grapples with the dilemma of not wanting to betray her brother yet yearning to liberate Karl. Driven by desperation, she approaches the jeweler Holst and offers to return the stolen jewels on the condition that he refrains from notifying the police. Holst agrees, and they race to Hamburg in his car, where the gang has boarded the “Albert Ballin” ship. However, the police have already been alerted, igniting an exhilarating chase on the steamship. Eventually, Holst recovers his jewels. The gang is apprehended, Lissy receives the promised reward, and, most importantly, she reunites with her beloved Karl.

Georg Herzberg’s review in Film Kurier No. 258 (November 1, 1932)
Gypsies of the Night – that’s an excessively romantic term for five sturdy lads who have teamed up to make life easier for their fellow men and enjoy a far more comfortable existence in a luxurious villa than the robber bands of the past did in their forest hideouts. The only traces of romance can be found in the charming younger sister of the robber captain, who, as a reward for her good behavior, gets to lead a quiet, bourgeois life alongside a handsome and lively young man.

Hermann Kosterlitz has crafted an amusing tale revolving around the quintet of robbers. With a few surprising scenes at the beginning, the audience is immediately set in the right mood and follows with interest as the wealthy jeweler van Holst has his gem-filled suitcase swindled and eventually returned. The final act takes place on board an ocean liner in Hamburg harbor, where, much to the audience’s delight, a wild frenzy ensues over staircases and railings, hindering the five “pleasure travelers” from embarking on their planned trip to America.

Director Hanns Schwarz clearly did not aim to create a counterpart to the serious crime thrillers featuring highly intelligent villains and detectives, complete with murders and gunfights. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously, allowing space for a delightful love idyll and for Paul Kemp, who delivers amusing gibberish on-screen, causing the entire audience to rejoice in anticipation of what’s to come.

Hanns Schwarz skillfully shapes the rapport between Jenny Jugo and Hans Brausewetter. Jugo once again showcases her strong talent for grotesque comedy. It’s magnificent to see her in action, handling the revolver with finesse. She brings out the comedic aspects of the integrated hit songs with captivating expression. Hans Brausewetter portrays a clever lad who is unwillingly drawn into an affair and tries to cope with audacity in unpleasant situations. Additionally, he is a fresh and endearing romantic lead.

Anton Pointner stands tall and resolute at the head of the gang, which also includes Egon Brosigk, Theo Lingen, Paul Heidemann, and Willi Schur. Each of them, individually and as a group, forms an ensemble worth watching and listening to. It’s fantastic when they perform Paul Abraham’s music in five-part harmony. Abraham has composed witty and melodious music, carefully crafted with lyrics by Robert Gilbert.

“Jule” Falkenstein, the victim of the rogues’ exploits, provides an amusing character. Alfred Beierle performs well in his role as commissioner.

Eugen Schüftan’s cinematography is superb, Ernö Metzner’s set design is highly appealing, Adolf Jansen is responsible for the sound, and Helmuth Wolfes leads the music.

The audience expressed audible delight throughout the film and did not hesitate to applaud during the opening scene and at the end.

As a festive premiere opening, skillfully orchestrated by Paul Abraham, a virtuoso performance on four grand pianos by Herbert Jäger, Bund, Pomeranz, and Glage was presented, receiving much applause.