7.4/10
5,118
49 user 28 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 café singer and the U.S. congresswoman investigating her.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A brash American gramophone salesman tries to get Emperor Franz Joseph's endorsement in turn-of-the-century Austria.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Bing Crosby, Joan Fontaine, Roland Culver
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A woman disguises herself as a child to save on a train fare and is taken in charge by an army man who doesn't notice the truth.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland, Rita Johnson
Thriller | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

During World War 2, an undercover British soldier tries get word to the Allies that the Germans have tons of supplies buried in 5 excavations across Egypt.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Franchot Tone, Anne Baxter, Akim Tamiroff
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Jealous piano teacher Orville Spooner sends his beautiful wife, Zelda, away for the night while he tries to sell a song to famous nightclub singer Dino, who is stranded in town.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Dean Martin, Kim Novak, Ray Walston
Adventure | Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Charles 'Slim' Lindbergh struggles to finance and design an airplane that will make his New York to Paris flight the first solo transatlantic crossing.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: James Stewart, Murray Hamilton, Patricia Smith
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A crooked lawyer persuades his brother-in-law to feign a serious injury.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Ron Rich
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

In West Berlin during the Cold War, a Coca-Cola executive is given the task of taking care of his boss' socialite daughter.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: James Cagney, Horst Buchholz, Pamela Tiffin
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

A middle-aged playboy becomes fascinated by the daughter of a private detective who has been hired to entrap him with the wife of a client.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Gary Cooper, Audrey Hepburn, Maurice Chevalier
Fedora (1978)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Down-on-his-luck Hollywood producer Barry 'Dutch' Detweiler attempts to lure Fedora, a famous but reclusive film actress, out of retirement.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: William Holden, Marthe Keller, Hildegard Knef
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

As a tabloid newspaper editor tries to prevent his top reporter from retiring, an escaped death row convict shows up at the office trying to convey his innocence.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Susan Sarandon
Avanti! (1972)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A successful businessman goes to Italy to arrange for the return of his tycoon-father's body only to discover dad died with his mistress of long standing.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Juliet Mills, Clive Revill
Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.

Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Jan Sterling, Robert Arthur
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Peter von Zerneck ...
Stanley Prager ...
Mike
...
Joe (as Bill Murphy)
Raymond Bond ...
Congressman Pennecot
Boyd Davis ...
Congressman Giffin
...
Congressman Kramer
...
Congressman Yandell
Michael Raffetto ...
Confressman Salvatore
...
Lieutenant Colonel
...
Major Mathews
James Lorimer ...
Lieutenant Hornby (as James Larmore)
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

It would make a cigar store Indian laugh ...

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

20 August 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La mundana  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

When Billy Wilder arrived on location in Berlin, he saw that the city had cleaned up a little since he was there right after the end of the war, but the results of close to 400 Allied bombing raids were still very much evident. Nearly half a million of the city's buildings had been destroyed, and although resilient Berliners were finding ways to survive, food was still scarce, the black market was thriving, and military police were everywhere. Filming in this virtual war zone suited Wilder's purposes very well, since he needed to show a destroyed city in chaos. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Erika von Schluetow: [singing] Black Market. Laces for the misses. Chewing gum for kisses! Black Market. Cuckoo clocks and bangles! Thousand little angles!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Cinema's Exiles: From Hitler to Hollywood (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

The Ruins of Berlin
(uncredited)
Written by Friedrich Hollaender
Sung by Marlene Dietrich
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Occupied Berlin in a Wilder Vein
15 November 2009 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Although A Foreign Affair turned out to be a big success for all involved, biographies of Billy Wilder, Jean Arthur, and Marlene Dietrich all talk about the difficulties they had in this film. Especially Wilder and Arthur.

Paramount put up some big bucks for this film, even including sending Billy Wilder and a second unit team to film the surviving city of Berlin from World War II. It all paid off quite nicely and you can bet the footage found it's way into films not half as good. It looks far better than the standard newsreel films that are often used as background for foreign locations.

Marlene Dietrich plays the girlfriend of former Nazi bigwig Peter Von Zerneck who is presumed dead by the public at large, but the army knows is very much alive. How to smoke him out is the problem that Colonel Millard Mitchell of the occupying forces has. He decides to use the growing relationship that Captain John Lund has with Dietrich as Von Zerneck is the jealous type.

But into the picture comes Jean Arthur, part of a group of visiting members of Congress touring occupied Berlin. Arthur departs from the group and starts conducting her own investigations and in the way Joseph Cotten was doing in occupied Vienna in The Third Man blundering his way into an investigation in the British sector there, Arthur threatens to blow up all of Mitchell's plans. Especially since Lund is starting to switch gears and drop Marlene for Jean.

Dietrich comes out best in this film. Not only was she German, but she was born and grew up in Berlin. Marlene may have invested more of herself in her character of Erika Von Schluetow than in any other film she did. She gets three great original songs by Frederick Hollander, Black Market, Illusions, and The Ruins Of Berlin that speak not to just her character, but to the sullen character of a beaten people. By the way that's composer Hollander himself accompanying her at the piano.

Dietrich and Wilder got along just great, both being refugees from Nazism. They got along so good that Arthur felt she was being frozen out and Wilder was favoring Dietrich.

Both Frank Capra and Cecil B. DeMille spoke of the difficulties in working with Jean Arthur and Billy Wilder also echoes what his colleagues said in their memoirs. Arthur was a terribly insecure person and it took a lot of patience to work with her. The results were usually worth it to the movie going public, but for her fellow workers on the film it could be painful. A Foreign Affair may have been good training for Wilder when he later had to get performances out of another diva, Marilyn Monroe.

Wilder came in for a lot of criticism showing our occupying forces in a less than perfect light and also making fun of a member of Congress and a Republican at that as Jean was in the film, most definitely not in real life. Millard Mitchell's a smart and tough professional soldier, but he's a bit of fathead as well as extols the virtue of teaching German youth baseball as a method of deNazification. As if it were that simple. But A Foreign Affair has held up very well over 60 years now and is Billy Wilder at some of his satirical and cynical best.


8 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?