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Just as Otto Preminger gambled in the casting of unknown Jean Seaberg in the
title role of "St. Joan," so George Stevens similarly took a big risk with
Millie Perkins in "The Diary of Anne Frank."
As the story goes, Stevens saw model Millie on a magazine cover, fell in love with her expressive eyes, and theorized that this unknown would be more effective than an established star to portray Anne.
Though Perkins had no acting experience, Stevens--at the peak of his career--was confident that he could teach Millie to act, at least for this film.
Although Audrey Hepburn was very interested in the part (as was Stevens in her) Stevens finally decided that it would be more effective to use a fresh actor--one with whom the public would have no pre-conceptions. (Other successful cases to support his theory being Hurd Hatfield as Dorian Gray and Robert Alda as George Gershwin.) Still, it was a huge gamble, since Anne was the pivotal role in this major production.
Well, the results are now history. For many moviegoers Perkins was just fine. While some critics easily spotted her reedy inexperience and rather sympathized with her being thrust into a super-professional arena, they conceded that Millie did do a commendable job.
Unfortunately, Perkins took a lashing from most critics, and her subsequent acting career has been relegated to minor roles in "B" films. Those are the "breaks," though in the fickle film world.
Yet, with all this, many people still think of Perkins' countenance when they envision of Anne Frank. So she and Stevens made a lasting impression.
Likewise, for many, this production remains the definitive version of a profoundly touching World War II real-life chronicle.
It's a pleasure to report that the long wait for George Stevens' THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK to come to the DVD format has been worth the wait. The restoration is far better then the fine 1995 Laser Disc issue, which was the only previous release to include the Overture, Intermission and Exit Music for the film as well as the "roadshow", 170 minute version of the film. As Alfred Newman's score is one of his finest, the addition of the extra music is a true treat. Issued as one of Fox's "Studio Classics", the DVD shows that a great deal of tender care has gone into this outstanding release. The complete films is contained on one side. Side two is full of some nice extras, headed by a full-length documentary, "ECHOS FROM THE PAST", that is very informative. There is a nice excerpt from the documentary feature, "GEORGE STEVENS: A FILMMAKER'S JOURNEY", which was produced and directed by George Stevens, Jr. Stevens' son also provides the commentary track along with actress Millie Perkins for the film itself. There are two interesting previews included, one for the U.S. release after the film was taken off the roadshow run (and CUT by almost 20 minutes) and also the International version, which uses Newman's music over the scenes without any dialog from the film itself. Perkins' screen test, newsreel footage a number of excellent behind the scenes photographs and a restoration comparison round out the second side. The film and this DVD are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
The film The Diary of Anne Frank is not taken directly from her world
famous diary, but it is rather an adaption of a play based on that
diary. The play was written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett and
it ran on Broadway from 1955 to 1957 for 717 performances.
Three members of the original Broadway cast did their roles for the screen, Joseph Schildkraut, Lou Jacobi, and Gusti Huber. Joseph Schildkraut as Otto Frank is the backbone of the film, providing the moral authority in the cast. He's a teacher and a scholar and makes sure that even under these circumstances, the education of his daughters is not neglected. Gusti Huber is Mrs. Frank and Lou Jacobi is Mr. Van Daan.
The Van Daans and the Franks have been offered shelter in a third floor apartment that is kept secret by a hidden door in a factory owner. The owner Mr. Kraler played by Douglas Spencer is an anti-Nazi and has offered to keep these two Jewish families hidden for the duration of the war in Holland. For two years they live in that apartment and aside from radio news all they know of the outside world is that street in Amsterdam where the factory is located. Director George Stevens to keep the viewer from getting claustrophobic provides us with occasional shots of the outside street and canal. This film is the ultimate in cabin fever.
But it has to be so for the Van Daans and the Franks are hiding for their lives. It's a community of necessity that's created up in the third floor.
Young Millie Perkins does fine in the title role originated on Broadway by Susan Strassberg. She has an Audrey Hepburn like appeal, but never had the career Audrey certainly did. Her sister Margit is played by Diane Baker who's career was a bit more substantial. Two very normal average teenage girls, except that Anne has a talent for writing and observing.
The frightening thing about this film is the very ordinariness of the characters. What have these people ever done that the might of the Nazi war machine should be out looking for them? Some of them are certainly not noble specimens as the movie shows, but their lives are so humdrum like millions of us. Simply because for politics sake, someone was scapegoating a religion.
Ed Wynn as Drussel the dentist and Shelley Winters as Mrs. Van Daan were nominated for supporting players in the male and female categories that year. Wynn lost, but Winters won the first of her two Oscars for this film. Up to then Ms. Winters played some pretty brassy characters in film. She fought for and won this role and got acclaim worldwide for her portrayal as a wife and mother. It was a transition into those kind of roles for her.
So Anne observed and wrote about her impressions of what she saw and heard and the people around her for two years. In a sense this is like Moby Dick with the Pequod being the apartment and the white whale being the Nazis. Joseph Schildkraut is no Ahab, he's just trying to lead his community for survival.
When the Nazis come, Anne's diary is hidden and after the war one of the community comes back and like Ishmael retrieves the diary and very much tells the tale.
Anne's diary, the hopes and dreams of a teenage girl caught up in a world of hate she couldn't comprehend, is now classic literature. It serves as a dark reminder of the bestial nature we can sink to. And it reminds us that hope, courage and love can spring from the darkest places.
The only complaint I have about this movie is the lack of accuracy.
The last diary entry we have is on August 1, 1944. There was no time - and she was not allowed to - make a quick note in the diary about what had just happened when the Gestapo had burst into the room to arrest them.
The arrest itself is completely wrong too - the helpers WERE there, and two of them were arrested along with the people in the Annex. They were not just standing there at the door waiting for the bookcase to come down and the police to run up. They had no clue was was about to come - and their arrest was a major surprise and disappointment to them because they were so close to liberation.
I understand the need to sugarcoat the issue, but it is a disgrace to those who lived it to portray it so inaccurately.
But then, that's just my opinion.
From 1942 to 1944, in a Nazi occupied Amsterdam, the thirteen years old
German Jewish girl Anne Frank (Millie Perkins) lives hiding in an attic
of a condiment factory with her sister, her parents, three members of
another family and an old dentist. Along more than two years, she wrote
in her diary, her feelings, her fears and relationship with the other
When I was about the same age of Anne Frank, I read her book for the first time and I recall how sad I became. Then I read it at least two times more, and in the bottom of my heart, I was maybe expecting a happy ending and that this teenager and the other persons were saved after their tough struggle for survival. In the 90's, I visited her Museum and again I became very sad. Her story is certainly the saddest and most touching journal ever written and published, and shows how cruel the human being can be. This movie has been recently released on DVD in Brazil with 171 minutes running time, and I really liked it. The cinematography is very beautiful, and the tense and claustrophobic story highlights some of the most important parts of the book with minor modifications to keep the movie tense and in an adequate pace. The cast is excellent, and although having about twenty-one years old at that time, the mignon Millie Perkins performs a good Anne Frank. The person who betrayed Anne Frank and the other Jews has never been discovered. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "O Diário de Anne Frank" ("The Diary of Anne Frank")
This worthwhile cinematic tribute to "The Diary of Anne Frank" offers a
solid cast, some very effective settings, and a generally well-considered
selection of episodes. No mere movie could convey the full force of the
original diary, which no one who has read it can forget. But this movie
version is good in its own right, and it does add some memorable, if
sometimes non-historical, images to the story. The script does alter some
details, and it's hard to see why they could not simply have filmed a
selection of actual events, since that could have been more than effective
enough. But, as a movie in its own right, it works well.
The Diary is most important for its record of the daily lives of real individuals who lived in constant fear because of the Nazis and their irrational persecutions. It puts names and faces on the kind of human disaster that is all too often described in terms of mere numbers. The movie does well in bringing out this aspect of the diary, making the characters come to life in settings that are interesting, detailed, and believable. The photography also makes good use of the settings and the details.
The other significant aspect of the Diary is its portrait of Anne herself. Her writings combine observations on the overall situation with observations about her own life and self, with a surprising degree of perception. This does not come out so much in the movie, though of course this would be much harder to accomplish. Millie Perkins projects a rather different image from the original Anne, but then again, there is nothing really wrong with her performance in itself. She does make a sympathetic and generally believable heroine. The supporting cast generally does a good job. The fine character actor Joseph Schildkraut gives the best performance, as Anne's father Otto.
Overall, if viewed with reasonable expectations and evaluated apart from the book, this adaptation is an interesting and worthwhile movie.
The first time I saw this film was on the old Saturday Night at the
movies back in the early sixties. I have since bought the video.
I have had people tell me how depressing this movie is.Those folks have missed the point for years. We do know what fate befell Anne and her family and friends,but the overriding feeling is,as Anne says near the end of the film, that in time things can and will change. The entire cast is wonderful.Millie Perkins brings a charm and innocence to Anne that cannot be duplicated. Joseph Schildkraut and Gusti Huber as Anne's parents are different as day and night in their relationship to Anne.Shelley Winters deserved her Oscar as the 'ultimate Jewish mother" Mrs Van Daan. Lou Jacobi is superb as Mr Van Daan and Ed Wynn is brilliant as fussbudget Dussel. As a long time fan of Richard Beymer, I have to say that Peter remains his best work. The "First kiss" sequence still gives me goosebumps,and the final segment in the attic just before the SS arrives still brings tears. A bravo to Diane Baker as the long suffering Margot.
The fact that director George Stevens shot the film in black and white adds to the tension. I just hope it never gets colorized. I know that the film was nominated for Best Picture, but didnt stand a chance against "Ben Hur",although I would have picked it! When I travel I always take a copy of the book. If the movie comes out on DVD,I may take it too.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
''The Diary of Anne Frank '''is not a bad movie, but I expected more from it. I think the version with Ben Kingsley and Hannah Taylor Gordon is much more interesting then this one. Millie Perkins could not be the Anne I imagined, but the funny thing is that I found her looks very similar to Audrey Hepburn, and when I read in trivia's part that ''Audrey Hepburn was first offered the role of Anne Frank'' I was surprised with the coincidence. I was almost positive that the actors filmed in the real Anex, but I discovered reading the Trivia that it wasn't possible for the crew to be there.[ too many people in a very small place] One of the last scenes, were the the phone keeps ringing and nobody answers it, never happened in the real story. It was in the script to make some tension in the audience.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I understand that, like any other movie from the 1950s, that this one tends to the clean and sentimental side. This screenplay has a few changes from the original stage production, putting emphasis on different things, and the portrayal of Anne was completely shallow and typical (which was definitely what Anne Frank was NOT). Before us we see a changed Anne Frank, one of whose favourite activities seems to be staring at her surroundings with a vacant look in her made-up eyes, or staring at Peter and waiting for him to kiss her again. She has no depth at all, this girl, reading off her deep insights into human nature with a cute drawl and a classic film-star pout as if she were made of wood, with little or no appropriate emotion. Yes, she has emotion, but when she says anything, it's as if she's emphasizing words at random to add some flavour to her acting, and really has no idea what she's talking about. This girl doesn't understand the intelligence and deep insight that her character is supposed to have, doesn't know the endless thinking and anguish Anne went through to come to the place where she could accept her situation without flinching. This one doesn't have a problem with accepting her situation, for the sole reason that she doesn't seem to get it in the first place.
Don't get me wrong, this movie wasn't BAD. It would have been okay, if it were standing on its own, but somewhere during its making the real Anne Frank got lost. For everyone who has read the real diary, this is only a shadow, one layer, of what that book really was.
On July 6th, 1942 Jewish Otto Frank, his wife Edith and their daughters Anne and Margot had to hide from the Nazies.They went to a hidden room in Otto's office in the middle of Amsterdam.On July 13th they were joined by the van Pels family, Hermann, Auguste and Peter van Pels.On November 16th they got another member to the secret annex, the dentist Fritz Pfeffer.A total of eight members had to hide from the evil, that was outside waiting.The evil won, as it too often does.On August 4th in 1944 it came in and took them all.Only one came back alive, Otto Frank, who had to live with the memories and the pain for the rest of his life.All the time his daughter Anne was hiding, she was writing to her diary about everything that was going on there.About her quarrels, about her growing, about her falling in love with Peter van Pels...George Stevens' The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) is the first movie made of this wise young girl.It's a very good portrayal of those events.I could mention that in the diary and in this movie some of the names aren't the original names.Millie Perkins, a model who had no acting experience, is really good as Anne Frank.They originally thought of the great actress Audrey Hepburn for the part, but she had too painful memories of it all, since she had lived in Holland.There were also some other similarities with Anne Frank, for instance they both were born the same year, in 1929.Joseph Schildkraut is great as Otto and so is Gusti Huber as Edith.Diane Baker is amazing as Margot Frank.The always great Shelley Winters was the perfect choice to play the part of Petronella van Daan (Auguste van Pels).Lou Jacobi is terrific as Hans van Daan (Hermann van Pels).Richard Beymer does the role of Peter van Daan (Peter van Pels) and he does it excellently.Today this boy would turn 80, if things would have gone differently.Ed Wynn is magnificent as Mr. Alber Dussel (Mr. Pfeffer).Their wonderful helper Miep Gies is played by Dodie Heath.Douglas Spencer plays another helper, Kraler (Kugler).This is a touching story, a true story about innocent people who did nothing wrong.Their only crime was to be born as Jews, a crime that isn't a crime.This movie focuses pretty much on the relationship between Anne and Peter.The first kissing scene is beautiful.They kiss in the shadows of the secret annex.The movie is in black and white, and the shadows have a big part here.It reminds how the shadows are always lurking there somewhere, trying to take over in our lives.The shadows won back then, in 1944, but none of them died.They all live in the pages of the books, in movies that are made.They all will keep on living in the secret annex. Only hoping the war will be over some day.Hoping to walk out and to be free.
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