The Night of Temptation

Original Title: Die Nacht der Versuchung. (Fremdenlegionär Nr. 37.) Adventure 1932; 62 min.; Director: Léo Lasko, Robert Wohlmuth; Cast: Werner Fuetterer, Elga Brink, Josef Eichheim, Lotte Deyers, Fritz Greiner, Otto Wernicke; Bayern-Emelka-Tobis-Klangfilm.

A young engineer cannot find a job, joins the Foreign Legion, and becomes a captain. His former girlfriend has become a celebrated star and goes on a pleasure trip to Africa, where she is attacked by Tuaregs. She is saved by the captain. Despite their mutual love, she leaves him again and follows her manager to America.

Unemployed! A horde of people marches through the streets, among them is the young graduate engineer Werner Vogt. People are not impolite to him when he applies for a job, they pity him, but they reject him. He is still optimistic, and his girlfriend Annie reinforces his confidence. She also wants to become famous and adored like the celebrated star of the Majestic Palace. While Werner repeatedly tries in vain to find work, a small opportunity presents itself to her.

At the moment he is evicted from his landlady’s place, unable to even find casual work, a chance for success presents itself to her. Despite her love for him, she has to part ways with him. When Werner receives her farewell letter, he is near despair, tired and exhausted, he sits on a bench, falls asleep — and dreams.

He sees himself with a division of the Arab Army, fighting wild tribes in the deepest Sahara. He manages to subdue the natives without shedding blood. He is promoted to captain and is granted the social status of an educated European even among the garrison. Meanwhile, the now-famous Vera van der Straaten, the stage name of little Annie, embarks on propaganda tours with her manager, which also lead them to Algiers. In her entourage is Frau Kommerzialrat Gruber and her husband. During a reception evening at the Consulate General of Algiers, Vera van der Straaten is genuinely delighted to be reunited with Werner. However, he does not want to renew the broken connection and leaves for the desert the next morning. She follows him faithfully, accompanied by the Gruber family. She must pay for her recklessness with captivity, from which her old friend rescues her. The strong feeling for him regains control over her, and she has reclaimed him — but the manager knows how to pull her back onto the path of fame she had started. Werner Vogt remains alone in the solitude of the Sahara, while the great artist goes out into the world.

Still caught up in the impressions of the dream, Werner wakes up on his bench and finds himself returned to harsh reality. He believes he now sees his path clearly and shares this with his fellow sufferer. This man, whose face is marked by the traces of hard days, persuades him that what Werner dreamt was nothing more than a dream image. He calls him back to reality and shows him the way to voluntary labor service.

hs.’ review in Film Kurier No. 187 (August 10, 1932)
Even films have their destinies; something of the illusory life they contain sometimes transfers to their own existence. The changes and transformations imposed by fate upon people do not make them happy—the cuts and revisions that the sound film The Night of Temptation underwent after its premiere yesterday were not entirely successful.

This film was shot in Africa a year and a half ago, and censorship significantly affected it—more precisely, it was heavily edited, and it went through three reworkings. The Night of Temptation is the alluring dream of an unemployed man to enlist in the “South Army” because his girl bid him farewell—a bitter everyday fate of a poor devil! He dreams of himself being great and successful in battle and in peaceful understanding with the insurgent Tuaregs, and so on. “She” becomes a great artist, they meet again, but even after he saves her from the hands of marauding tribes, they still part ways. All the exotic film adventures of the past resurrect in this dream, whose awakening represents a solid call to voluntary labor service.

After so much exoticism, this appeal! It’s all very peculiar; the audience laughs when it’s transferred from the Sahara Desert to the Mark Brandenburg Labor Service. Such a serious idea should not be demeaned as a makeshift appendage of a failed travel film. By the way: The dramatic use of the dream seems—at least when handled like here—a bit outdated! Nevertheless, they made a lot of effort, especially in the African scenes, which comprise the majority of the film. They captured well-observed studies of the people’s lives that, to the extent that the original sound is included, even have ethnographic value.

The actors also put a lot into the film. Elga Brink seems to be becoming a specialist in travel films; she feels as confident in the desert as in a salon and looks excellent. Werner Fuetterer, the dreaming unemployed man, has a splendid presence in the desert (he significantly competes with Sheikh Valentino). The directors Leo Lasko and Robert Wohlmuth’s work was handicapped from the start by the script and later by the cuts. The partial good they provided is no longer clearly recognizable in the ambivalence of the current, somewhat nervous film version.