Kitty Cheats Her Way to Happiness

Original Title: Kitty schwindelt sich ins Glück. Comedy 1932; 87 min.; Director: Herbert Juttke; Cast: Toni van Eyck, Paul Otto, Willy Stettner, Blandine Ebinger, Margarete Kupfer, Oskar Sima; Excelsior-Tobis-Klangfilm.

A scullery maid manages to con her way into being adopted by a wealthy factory owner, frees his nephew from an expensive girlfriend and, after getting an innocent servant embroiled in a theft case, is rehabilitated and becomes the nephew’s wife.

Kitty often not paying attention to her job, loses her position as a dishwasher at the Hotel Esplanade. Unable to pay her rent, her landlord, Mrs. Mueller, terminates her lease. In this situation, she happens to read an advertisement from the manufacturer Brock, who is looking to adopt a thirteen-year-old girl. He wants to teach his nephew Paul a lesson, as he is living an extravagant life.

Although older than desired, Kitty decides to take this opportunity. She shortens her dress with scissors and manages to get herself in a basket meant for Brock to his villa. There, she is able to convince the manufacturer to give her a try. Soon, she begins to feel uncomfortable in her role as Karl Mueller, the good-for-nothing son of her former landlady, is hired as a servant. Furthermore, Paul visits his uncle to ask for money, per the recommendation of his friend Edith. He catches a glimpse of Kitty and is delighted with his uncle’s idea to adopt her.

Kitty has fallen head over heels in love with Paul, only to be disappointed when she finds out he is on the phone with Edith. From the conversation, she realizes she does not have the funds to pick up her new ball gown from the fashion salon. Paul calms Edith by promising to pick up the gown himself. But Kitty beats him to it, retrieving the gown and then borrowing jewelry from Brock’s safe before heading off to the ball. There, she meets Paul, who does not recognize her, and he falls so deeply in love with Kitty that he promises to get a job.

Upon her return, Kitty cannot put the borrowed jewelry back in the safe because the lock is jammed. The next day, the safe is found to have been robbed. Confusion arises when Paul sees a picture of the jewelry and remembers his partner wearing it at the ball the night before. Fearing she will be mistaken for a thief, Kitty flees, but before she does, she sends the jewelry back along with a letter around the neck of the guard dog Nero. It turns out that the jewelry falls into the hands of Mueller, who had robbed the safe.

It soon becomes apparent in the villa that Kitty’s honesty is unquestionable. Meanwhile, her letter is found, proving her innocence. Pursued by Kitty, Müller now tries to escape by train. Paul just manages to reach the train. After Müller is arrested, Kitty and Paul find each other and embark on an engagement honeymoon.

-g.’s review in Film Kurier No. 107 (May 7, 1932)
The remarkable film, made possible by Excelsior Productions, has built a platform for young actress Toni van Eyck’s sound-film career. Her name has been known for some time, yet she always seems to require rediscovery.

It is evident in this film that sound film is an esteemed material capable of yielding great rewards with proper handling. The protagonist is a recently-dismissed dishwasher who manages to ascend to the rank of an adopted daughter of a wealthy individual. When she finds herself embroiled in a theft scandal, she is able to escape unscathed. Her character is as captivating as a mischievous and precocious adolescent, both when she is dressed in an evening gown and when she is not.

Thanks to the work of van Eyck, Herbert Juttke’s story is bearable, and does not get stuck at the back door. Juttke’s main merit as a director is his ability to use star power to cover up his own authorial flaws. Juttke works timidly and without much personal flair, not doing worse than the “old guard” but unfortunately not better either. The final events of the film lack proper connection. If Juttke had opted for an elegant exit rather than the trivial phrase of “journey to happiness”, Kitty’s Riviera flimflammery could have made for a more satisfying conclusion.

Blandine Ebinger is very good; she whirls down a series of well-styled pirouettes to the delight of the dance floor.

Paul Otto is playing a wealthy man with poise, Kupfer is mimicking an ordinary landlady, and Oskar Sima is successfully playing the villain. Willi Stettner could appear less pomaded. Berthold Reißig and a German shepherd are also worth mentioning.

The technical aspects are unnoticeable. Camera: Carl Drews. Sets: Hermann and Lippschütz. Sound: Norkus.

Joe Hajos enters with a fluid schlager composition.