48 user 27 critic

A Foreign Affair (1948)

Approved | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 20 August 1948 (USA)
In occupied Berlin, an army captain is torn between an ex-Nazi cafe singer and the U.S. congresswoman investigating her.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
3,993 ( 12,031)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter von Zerneck ...
Stanley Prager ...
Joe (as Bill Murphy)
Raymond Bond ...
Boyd Davis ...
Robert Malcolm ...
Charles Meredith ...
Michael Raffetto ...
Damian O'Flynn ...
Lieutenant Colonel
Frank Fenton ...
Major Mathews
James Lorimer ...
Lieutenant Hornby (as James Larmore)


A congressional committee visits occupied Berlin to investigate G.I. morals. Congresswoman Phoebe Frost, appalled at widespread evidence of human frailty, hears rumors that cafe singer Erika, former mistress of a wanted war criminal, is "protected" by an American officer, and enlists Captain John Pringle to help her find him...not knowing that Pringle is Erika's lover. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It would make a cigar store Indian laugh ...


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »





Release Date:

20 August 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La mundana  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$1,500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Director Billy Wilder said famously of his difficulties with Marlene Dietrich and Jean Arthur in the film. "I have one dame who's afraid to look at herself in a mirror and another who won't stop looking!" See more »


Just after the movie begins,Jean Arthur announces to the Army officers that she is the representative of Iowa's 9th Congressional District. The movie was shot, and set, after the end of WWII in 1945. Iowa's 9th District was eliminated by redistricting after the 1940 Census, and ceased to exist after the representatives elected in 1942, the first elections with the redrawn 8 districts, took office at the beginning of 1943. This error may have been by intent to avoid connecting her to a real postwar district. See more »


Phoebe Frost: We'll go there right now!
Captain John Pringle: Where?
Phoebe Frost: To the files!
Captain John Pringle: In the middle of the night? Shouldn't we get permission?
Phoebe Frost: Did we get permission to land in Normandie? Let's go!
See more »


Referenced in The 55th Annual Academy Awards (1983) See more »


Black Market
Written by Friedrich Hollaender
Sung by Marlene Dietrich
See more »

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User Reviews

Brilliant! As relevant today as in 1948.
31 December 2005 | by (the lower depths) – See all my reviews

This is one of those comedies that will always exist in the stratosphere of wit, intelligence and truth. It pulls no punches about politics, greed, hypocrisy & opportunism and treats its audience like grown-ups. It is as applicable to today's congress and the situation in Iraq as it was to post-WWII Germany (to which today's politicians still make frequent comparisons). It also was the first film to unflinchingly capture the effects of the WWII devastation of Berlin.

And what a cast! Jean Arthur, surely one of the greatest of all Hollywood comediennes, Marlene Dietrich in a part to match her Lola Lola in Blue Angel, John Lund a great under-utilized actor with the wit and ruggedness of Clark Gable and Millard Mitchell, one of those character actors whose mold was sadly broken decades ago.

In my book this film ranks with Double Indemnity as the best work of Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett.

Great songs by the legendary Frederick Hollander who actually appears here as Dietrich's accompanist.

22 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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