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A Foreign Affair (1948)

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



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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 ...
Congressman Kramer
Congressman Yandell
Confressman Salvatore
Lieutenant Colonel
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)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Marlene Dietrich was Billy Wilder's first choice to play Erika. 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: [Looking at an old Nazi newsreel with Erika, in strapless gown, at the Opera] I wonder what holds up that dress?
Captain John Pringle: Must be that - German will power.
See more »


Referenced in Take Me Home Tonight (2011) See more »


Iowa Corn Song
Written by Edward Riley, George Botsford, Ray W. Lockard, and George Hamilton
Sung by Jean Arthur and chorus
See more »

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User Reviews

An outstanding, interesting, entertaining movie
19 April 2000 | by See all my reviews

The main impression left by "A Foreign Affair" is Billy Wilder's nobility toward German people. With authentic magnanimity, he chooses to represent Germans as a pitiful people struggling to survive, not a cruel enemy to hate. The movie has an intrinsic historical interest, since it was filmed in 1948 Berlin, completely destroyed by bombs. As usual in Wilder's works, the plot is beautifully constructed, the dialogue is witty and funny, irony, sarcasm and anti-rhetoric are spread along the movie. In the opening scenes we see army captain John Lund at the black-market, selling a cake, hand-made by his American sweetheart and coming from the States, to buy a gift for his Berliner lover Marlene Dietrich. By the way, Dietrich and most Berliner women seem to be on the verge of prostitution, just to get primary goods to survive in post-war disaster. Lund meets Jean Arthur, a US congresswoman committed in hunting nazi war criminals. As a matter of fact, we follow Lund's attempts to destroy evidence of Dietrich's nazi past: a behavior by the captain not exactly patriotic, nor ethic. The finale is deeper than it appears at a first sight: brutal tyranny, based on terror and slaughter, is doomed to be annihilated, buried under the rubble; pretty girls remain, helping us to spend our life on this unhappy earth.

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