Before Winter Comes (1969)

M  |   |  Comedy, Drama, War  |  13 August 1969 (Sweden)
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After WW2, in an Austrian camp for displaced persons, an interpreter mediates between the British and the Soviets regarding the fate of various refugees.



(screenplay), (based on "The Interpreter" by)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Major Burnside
Lieutenant Pilkington
Brigadier Bewley
Ori Levy ...
Captain Kamenev
John Collin ...
Sergeant Woody
Karel Stepanek ...
Count Kerassy
Guy Deghy ...
Mark Malicz ...
Gertan Klauber ...
Russian major
Hana Maria Pravda ...
Beata (as Hana-Maria Pravda)
George Innes ...
Tony Selby ...
Hugh Futcher ...


Comedy set in a refugee camp in occupied Austria after World War II. A shrewd multi-lingual interpreter who mediates between Russian and British military brass enters into a friendly rivalry with British Major Giles Burnside, who is in charge of assigning the displaced persons into either the American or Russian zones. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


a rare blend of picture


Comedy | Drama | War


M | See all certifications »




Release Date:

13 August 1969 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Quiero ser libre  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Brigadier Bewley: You'll be staying in the service, of course? It's in the family. People with your background should do pretty well.
Lieutenant Pilkington: Thank you, sir. Emm, I shall be going back to University to study languages. I've been told that they are going to be most important in the new Europe.
Brigadier Bewley: Oh, yes. And in the new Army. We could use fellows like you on the staff.
Lieutenant Pilkington: Well, no sir, whatever my father might say, eh, I'm - not really cut out for fighting.
Brigadier Bewley: My dear, Pilkington, whoever joined the Army to fight?
See more »


I'll Make a Man of You
Music by Herman Finck
Lyrics by Arthur Wimperis
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User Reviews

Topol Makes Himself Useful
2 December 2013 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

After watching Before Winter Comes I'm still trying to figure out the points it was trying to make and where was the humor. Such laughs it had are the grimly ironical kind. As a vehicle for Topol it was quite good for that.

David Niven was playing it serious for once. He plays a British army major who for trying a grandstand play during battle got a whole lot of soldiers killed. Now that World War II is over he's in charge of a displaced refugee camp. Under the strict guidelines set by Yalta he has some rigid instructions as to where to send refugees. No one wants to go to the Russian zone, but that's not his call.

As for Topol when the call goes out for camp interpreter Topol is ready to make himself useful. In fact he's almost too good to be true. Probably he is.

In this film that seems rather pointless Topol is the whole show. A bit of his Tevye from Fiddler On The Roof is here, but his character is more like something Danny Kaye might have done. The script doesn't help Topol, he has to mine some barren land for some laughs.

Niven is not his usual charming self trying to carry a film on that. His character doesn't permit charm. He's in a situation he hates and wants to go back to 'fighting' regiment. But that says Brigadier Anthony Quayle ain't about to happen.

As a vehicle for Topol he proves he can play something other than Tevye, like Yul Brynner being someone other than the King of Siam. But the film really sinks into a bog of pretension in the final analysis.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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