Do want to have a good cry? Then listen, my friends, to the story of Wenn der Vater mit dem Sohne (I don’t really know what it mean: “When the father with the son”?) — the 1955 directorial debut of Hans Quest. It stars Heinz Rühmann who plays Teddy, a man who runs a joke shop who has raised his landlady’s foster child — Ulli — as a son, since the boy was abandoned by his mother at birth. One day, Ulli comes upon a clown suit and Teddy explains that once upon a time, he was a famous clown who performed with his son. But after his son died, Teddy lost the ability to laugh and started the joke shop. Ulli convinces Teddy to begin performing and joins him on the stage. Happily ever after? Not at all! We aren’t even half way through the movie.
The mother returns — now married. She wants to take Ulli back with her to America. So Teddy and Ulli run away together. But alas, there is nothing to be done and the mother eventually takes Ulli back with her, leaving Teddy emotionally destroyed for the second time in his life. Now if this were some piece of garbage like Kramer vs Kramer, the mother would return Ulli to Teddy. But thankfully, this is not a piece of garbage. So the film ends with Teddy as a sad clown, performing “La-Le-Lu Nur Der Mann im Mond Schaut Zu” (Only the Man in the Moon Watches).
Here is a video with three times that the song is performed in the film. It’s very sweet: