It Happened in Broad Daylight

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Es geschah am hellichten Tag - El cebo
Es geschah am hellichten Tag 1959.jpg
Directed by Ladislao Vajda
Produced by Lazar Wechsler
Artur Brauner (co-producer)
Written by Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Hans Jacoby
Ladislao Vajda
Starring Heinz Rühmann
Siegfried Lowitz
Michel Simon
Gert Fröbe
Music by Bruno Canfora
Cinematography Ernst Bolliger
Heinrich Gärtner
Praesens Film GmbH
Chamartín Producciones
Distributed by Deutsche Film Hansa
Release date
  • 1958 (1958)
Running time
95 minutes
Country Switzerland
West Germany
Language German

Es geschah am hellichten Tag (English: It Happened in Broad Daylight) is a 1958 Swiss-German-Spanish suspense film directed by Ladislao Vajda. In 1997, it was remade under the same title as a German TV film, directed by Nico Hofmann. There was also a Dutch remake of the film, by Rudolf Van Den Berg, under the title The Cold Light of Day made in 1995.

The original screenplay was written by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, a Swiss playwright and novelist, and the first incarnation of the film is still acclaimed by critics. Heinz Rühmann and Gert Fröbe both starred in the 1958 movie.[1]


The three films follow the same basic plot, where a senior police detective is detached to investigate the murder of a little girl. As the detective hopes for leads while talking with the mother of the murdered girl, he pledges to find her killer – and so, even after leaving the police force, he embarks upon buying a gasoline shop in the remote area where he hopes to find the criminal, and uses a little girl as bait to attract the killer. His trap is ultimately successful in ensnaring the murderer.



Cinematography took place from 22 February to April 1958 near Zürich and Chur. Interiors were shot at Praesens Atelier and CCC-Studios (Berlin).[2]


The film premiered on 4 July 1958 at the IFF/Berlin. It went on general release on 9 July 1958. In Switzerland it premiered on 12 July 1958 (Rex, Zürich).[2]



Alternative versions[edit]

Friedrich Dürrenmatt had not been happy to see the detective proven successful at the end the story, so he wrote the novel Das Versprechen: Requiem auf den Kriminalroman (The Pledge: Requiem for the Detective Novel) from the previous film script. Das Versprechen differs from Es geschah am hellichten Tag by having the detective fail to identify the killer in the end because of the murderer's death in an auto accident. This failure ultimately leaves the detective a broken and witless old man.

American director Sean Penn made a fourth movie on the topic, named The Pledge in 2001. Penn's movie incorporates Das Versprechen's darker ending, as preferred by Dürrenmatt.


External links[edit]