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A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958)

On the Russian front in 1944 German Private Ernst Graeber receives a leave and visits his family in Germany but Germany isn't the same country he left behind.



(screenplay), (novel)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ernst Graeber
Elizabeth Kruse Graeber (as Lilo Pulver)
Hermann Boettcher
Erich Maria Remarque ...
Dieter Borsche ...
Captain Rahe
Barbara Rütting ...
Woman Guerrilla
Oscar Binding
Charles Regnier ...
Frau Lieser
Kurt Meisel ...
Agnes Windeck ...
Frau Witte
Political Officer


In 1944, a company of German soldiers on the Russian front are numbed by the horrors and hardships of war when Private Ernst Graeber's long awaited furlough comes through. Back home in Germany, he finds his home bombed. While hopelessly searching for his parents, he meets lovely Elizabeth Kruse, daughter of a political prisoner; together they try to wrest sanity and survival from a world full of hatred. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Born out of the blazing passions of war! See more »


Drama | Romance | War


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Release Date:

7 September 1958 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Will o' the Wisp  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)|



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


This Douglas Sirk film is an example of American 1950s Sirkian technicolor melodrama (though it is arguably less soapishy). Other examples include Written on the Wind (1956); Imitation of Life (1959); Magnificent Obsession (1954) and All That Heaven Allows (1955). See more »


Early in the movie when the platoon is dismissed, one of the soldiers is seen carrying a machine gun on his shoulder. It is clearly visible that there is no barrel inside the barrel shroud. See more »


Professor Pohlmann: Without doubt, there would be no need for faith.
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Music by Miklós Rózsa
Lyrics by Charles Henderson
Performed by uncredited blonde in cabaret scene
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Germans were humans too.....
21 February 2005 | by (Italy) – See all my reviews

...in this time of generalizations and terminally low attention spans (not to say inexistent historical memory) people who have been the hollywoodesque cartoonish image of all 1930/40s Germans to be goose-stepping-order-barking-black-uniformed-ss-genocidal-murders could have their insight skills sharpened a bit more by this movie directed by Detlef Sierck (his real name). Actually lots of people in the 3rd Reich must have felt like Sierck himself, who obviously loved his fatherland but hated the Nazis and the way they tried to rape and pervert the very idea of the 'german nation' to their twisted ends...and those who were not lucky enough to expatriate like he did would have lived like the protagonists of this drama, suffering through an unwanted war having to witness both the cruelty of the regime AND the devastations from the war that the regime forced upon its people (the political prisoners forced to clear rubble from the air raids is a TELLING scene indeed!). The only thing that upset me a bit was the censorship forced on the filmmaker which in several scenes has to resort to silly 'visual tricks' to 'avoid' showing swastikas (a tube blocking our sight over the Military Police gorget in one of the first scenes, the queer angle at which a NSDAP member crosses our p.o.v. in the restaurant scene so we can't see the front of his armband)....now think a bit...if a catastrophe strikes and leaves this movie the ONLY proof of semi-historical value regarding WW2 the historians of the future will be oblivious of the centrepiece of nazi imagery...how STUPID is that???

Down with censorship I say, either sexual, political, intellectual et al...

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