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Daybreak (1931)

Passed | | Drama | 2 May 1931 (USA)
Willi, a brash young lieutenant in the Austrian Imperial Guard, bent on an evening of pleasure, visits a house of ill repute and gambling parlor. He meets Laura, a sweet innocent girl and ... See full summary »



(from the book by), (dialogue) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Helen Chandler ...
Herr Schnabel
General von Hertz
Karen Morley ...
Emily Kessner
Douglass Montgomery ...
Von Lear (as Kent Douglass)
Glenn Tryon ...
Clyde Cook ...
Sumner Getchell ...
Clara Blandick ...
Frau Hoffman
Herr Hoffman
Jackie Searl ...
August (as Jackie Searle)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Russ Powell ...
Undetermined Minor Role (scenes deleted)
Zelda Sears ...
Undetermined Minor Role (scenes deleted)


Willi, a brash young lieutenant in the Austrian Imperial Guard, bent on an evening of pleasure, visits a house of ill repute and gambling parlor. He meets Laura, a sweet innocent girl and spends the night with her, leaving her money in the morning. Devastated with the realization Willi found her a mere convenience, Laura becomes the mistress of Herr Schnabel, an unpleasant but wealthy gentleman. Never quite getting over Laura, Willi is goaded by her into gambling with Schnabel and losing more money to him than he can possibly repay. Laura is unaware that Willi must either pay his debt by the next day or take the only other honorable way out - committing suicide. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

debt | gambling | love | uncle | suicide | See All (25) »




Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

2 May 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alvorada  »

Box Office


$515,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The role of Willi Kasda in this film was originally meant for John Gilbert. See more »


Hungarian Dance #5 in A Major
(1869) (uncredited)
Written by Johannes Brahms
Played at the party
See more »

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User Reviews

You measure love with a thermometer not with a calender
23 July 2005 | by (brooklyn NY) – See all my reviews

(Some Spoilers) Preceptive little morality play set in what looks like the pre-WWI Austro/Hungarian Empire about a young army officer let.Willi Kasder,Ramon Noverro,who finds out that life isn't exactly the bowl of sweet cherries that he thought it was, there are a lot of rotten one's in there as well.

Willi born into the cream of Vienna society rose in the rank of the elite Royal Imperial Guard to the point where he became a member of it's officer corps. Always having friends and relatives in high places to clean up after him after he royally screwed things up Willi has no idea of what being responsible was. With Willi's uncle Gen. Von Hertz, C. Aubrey Smith, in charge of the military base that he's stationed at he knew that whatever boners he pulled good old Uncle Hertz would take care of them. One thing Willi didn't expect to happen was to fall in love with someone else, besides himself,and accept the responsibility that goes alone with that.

At a party with his officer friends at the Vienna night-spot "Madam Saguss" Willi spots this sweet and lovely young lady Laura Taub, Helen Chandler,who's a music teacher. Later Willi sees Laura going upstairs to a room with big spender and notorious whore-mister Herr Schnabel,Jean Hersholt. Suspecting that Schnabel was up to no good Willi goes to see if everything is all right only to hear Laura screaming inside the hotel-room as she fights off Schnabel from trying to force himself on her. Willi puts an end to Herr Schnabel's advances by punching him out. Taking the grateful Laura, who at first didn't trust him, on a night on the town Willi spends the next morning at her apartment having breakfast.

After promising to see her again and kissing her good-by Willi innocently leaves a 100 Krone bank note on her dinning room table. Helen ,who fell in love with Willi, by seeing the note after Willi left now feels insulted by what he did in treating her as if she were just a one night stand to him or even worse. With Helen letting Willi have it when he came to see her the next day, about what he did to her, left him both hurt and humiliated since he also fell in love with Helen. Willi's action, by leaving the money, was nothing more that a show of appreciation not a fee for her spending the night with him, which didn't include anything more serious then two or three harmless smooches and getting her a bit tipsy on a couple of glasses of French wine.

Helen goes over the deep end by going back to the sleazy Herr Schnabel and becoming the kind of person that she thinks that Willi thought that she was with her drinking gambling and whoring around. Guilt-ridden by what he did to Helen in turning her into a party animal-type, from the sweet and innocent girl that she was, Willi tries to win her back from Schnabel. Challenging to go head to head with Schnabel in a no holds-bar game of Baccarat Willi feels that would win Helen back to him. In the big showdown Schnabel totally wipes out Willi leaving him 14,000 krone's in debt and a broken and destroyed young man. Being too proud to ask his uncle Gen. Von Hertz for the money and facing disgrace as a member of the Royal Imperial Guard Willi has only one option left open to him: a bullet to the head from his own service revolver.

Decent ending that doesn't at all cop-out like you would have thought that it would with Willi redeeming himself and getting back, as well as saving her from a life of sin, the women that he loved Helen. Coming to grips with the real world Willi threw away his playboy lifestyle that he lived all his adult life. Like Willi said when he came to see Helen at the end of the film when asked, by the parents of a young boy that Helen was teaching to play the piano, why he didn't have his army uniform on he answered this way: Were both going to a masquerade and I'm going as a human being.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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