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It Happened in Broad Daylight (1958)

Es geschah am hellichten Tag (original title)
Having doubts about the guilt of the obvious suspect in the murder of an eight year old girl, a police detective decides to investigate the case on his own.


Ladislao Vajda

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5 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Heinz Rühmann ... Oberleutnant Matthäi
Sigfrit Steiner ... Detektiv Feller
Siegfried Lowitz ... Leutnant Henzi
Michel Simon ... Jacquier
Heinrich Gretler Heinrich Gretler ... Polizeikommandant
Gert Fröbe ... Schrott
Berta Drews Berta Drews ... Frau Schrott
Ewald Balser ... Professor Manz
Roger Livesey ... Professor Manz (voice)
María Rosa Salgado ... Frau Heller
Anita von Ow Anita von Ow ... Annemarie Heller
Barbara Haller Barbara Haller ... Ursula Fehlmann
Emil Hegetschweiler Emil Hegetschweiler ... Gemeindepräsident
Rene Magron Rene Magron ... Polizeibeamter Weber
Max Werner Lenz Max Werner Lenz ... Gritli Moser's Teacher


Several young girls were killed. Policeman Matthaei travels to the region where it happened and searches a child that looks similar to the ones that were murdered. He finds one and stays with her and her mother, not telling them that he is waiting for the killer to start his bloody work one more time ... Written by Wolfgang Klimt <wolfii@leo.org>

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Prepare Yourself For a Most Unusual and Disquieting Tale of Suspense!


Crime | Thriller | Drama


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German | Italian

Release Date:

9 July 1958 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

It Happened in Broad Daylight See more »

Filming Locations:

CCC-Atelier, Berlin, Germany See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Friedrich Dürrenmatt wrote the screenplay (together with Hans Jacoby and Ladislao Vajda) while at the same time developing the novel form of the story under the title "Das Versprechen" (The Pledge). He finished the novel after the film was completed and gave it a different, much darker ending. See more »

Alternate Versions

The Spanish Castilian dubbing due to the censorship of the time, had to change many of the dialogues when they mentioned issues of child abuse or even rape. See more »


Version of Twilight (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

There Are Such Monsters In The World.
30 November 2014 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Es geschan am hellichten Tag (It Happened in Broad Daylight) is directed by Ladislao Vajda and collectively written by Vajda, Hans Jacoby and Friedrich Durrenmatt, from the Novel The Promise. It stars Heinz Ruhmann, Sigfrit Steiner, Siegfried Lowitz, Michel Simon and Gert Frobe. Music is by Bruno Canfora and cinematography is by Ernst Bolliger and Heinrich Gartner.

When a child is found murdered in the woods, Oberleutnant Matthai (Ruhmann) promises the child's parents he will find the killer. It's a promise that weighs heavy on him, causing him to go outside of his rational thinking to hopefully lure the killer into a trap.

The source material has proved ripe for picking as regards film adaptations, latterly with a big Hollywood production directed by Sean Penn and starring Jack Nicholson (The Pledge 2001). There's a whole bunch of themes bubbling away in the story, all of which are handled superbly by the makers. At its core it's a criminal investigation fuelled by an obsession, but morality and mob justice play a big part in proceedings as well.

Lashings of intrigue permeate the atmosphere, as does a number of suspenseful scenes as the child killer enters the fray and we see him operating his vile shtick. The sequences of him at home, a complete milquetoast to a harpy wife, simmer away with deadly expectation, the acting superb. The psychological studies of the key characters carry considerable weighty merit, always niggling away at the audience, keeping us hooked to the very last frame.

With chills (for instance the hand puppet scenes are blood curdling), expressionistic touches and a film noir sense of the human condition gone wrong, it's a film deserving of a more wider and appreciative audience. Personally I prefer the ending that Durrenmatt rewrote as Das Versprechen (the author wasn't happy with Es geschan am hellichten Tag's resolution), and that was the ending Penn went for in The Pledge. This is not in the same class as Fritz Lang's "M", but it deserves to be on the same shelf, and that is praise indeed. 8/10

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