Originally made with a German soundtrack for screening in occupied Germany and Austria, this film was the first documentary to show what the Allies found when they liberated the Nazi ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
Future director Gerd Oswald, then assistant to Billy Wilder, said it was rumoured that Marlene Dietrich was having an affair with everyone, particularly "a couple of muscle-men stunt guys she just devoured." John Lund called her a "mixture of siren and homebody, gracious, unfailingly professional and funny," and related a story about Winston Churchill's son, Randolph, making such a pest of himself pursuing Dietrich on a visit to the set that Wilder's wife finally threw a glass of wine at him. See more »
Though the character played by Jean Arthur is an 'unmarried' American Congresswoman, the actress's real life wedding ring is visible in many scenes especially close-ups during the latter part of the film. See more »
Erika von Schluetow:
Want to buy some illusions? Slightly used, just like new. Such romantic illusions, and they're all about you. I sell them all for a penny, they make pretty souvenirs. Take my lovely illusions, some for laughs, some for tears.
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This is a well written (Brackett and Breen) and directed (Billy Wilder) film with great performances. Marlene Dietrich is impressive as the Nazi chanteuse with loose morals, great legs and an eye for the main chance. Her songs e.g. Ruins of Berlin are sardonic and compelling. Jean Arthur is irresistible as the frustrated Congresswoman, throwing herself at John Lund with enthusiasm and gradually coming to see human behaviour in shades of grey, rather than black and white.
John Lund is very good as the cynical army officer, attracted to Dietrich while repelled by her politics and prepared to romance Arthur in order to bury Dietrich's Nazi past. He has a nice way with underplayed humour e.g. "It can't be subversive to kiss a Republican!" Supporting actors, especially Millard Mitchell as Col Plummer are all good.
Berlin makes a bleak impressive backdrop, making the behaviour of the occupying troops and the Berliners easy to understand. There are some lovely vignettes e.g. the German woman pushing a pram decorated with the US flag.
Unfortunately the film was perceived as unpatriotic by many critics and did not do as much for the career of John Lund as it should.
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