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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Its initial television broadcast took place in Chicago Sunday 4 January 1959 on WBBM (Channel 2), followed by Seattle 23 January 1959 on KIRO (Channel 7), and it soon became a popular local favorite the moment it was telecast, in Milwaukee 3 May 1959 on WIKI (Channel 6), in Minneapolis 6 May 1959 on WTCN (Channel 11), in Omaha 2 June 1959 on KETV (Channel 7), in Grand Rapids 4 September 1959 on WOOD (Channel 8), in Detroit, where it was shown in two parts Thursday-Friday 1-2 October 1959 on WJBK (Channel 2), in Toledo 10 October 1959 on WTOL (Channel 11), in Phoenix 15 November 1959 on KVAR (Channel 12), in Johnstown 18 November 1959 on WJAC (Channel 6), in Philadelphia 19 December 1959 on WCAU (Channel 10), in St. Louis 18 February 1960 on KMOX (Channel 4) in San Francisco 22 October 1960 on KPIX (Channel 5), and, finally, in New York City 21 January 1961 and in Los Angeles 8 April 1961 on KNXT (Channel 2). After nearly 70 years, it's more popular than ever, and was released on DVD 10 June 2013 by Universal Studios and Turner Classic Movies, where it also receives frequent cable presentations. See more »
When the Americans are flying over Berlin, the scenery outside Phoebe's (Jean Arthur's) window never changes. See more »
For the two decades after World War II, there was a popular fascination involving films about or made in a reconstructed Europe. From The Search to The Great Escape, a genuine sense of authenticity maintained, sustained by writers, actors, and directors who had actually lived through the epoch. Most of them are now gone, not the least of which was one of the finest directors ever: Billy Wilder.
In this film, there are few stock caricatures once the viewer is able to get past certain allusions to contemporary popular culture (e.g. Who now remembers who "Gabriel Heatter" was?). Even the line "Is it subversive to kiss a Republican?" has a fresh ring to it. The writers must have been pleased with Wilder's usual fast-paced and witty visual turns accentuating their remarkable script.
Of course there is Marlene Dietrich the icon in effect playing herself as a postwar blue angel, and real Germans speaking real German where the story demanded it. Jean Arthur provides an able if somewhat overdrawn foil for La Dietrich, and has a little fun at it. In one scene, she coyly admits her first name is "Phoebe," which happens to be the name of a character she played years earlier in a western called Arizona (1940).
Wilder would revisit Berlin again in 1961 for the hilarious send-up One, Two, Three -- still a great favorite and indeed a classic film.
18 of 23 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?