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>
In a biography of her famous mother, Marlene Dietrich's daughter Maria Riva wrote, "She left for Hollywood in '47, quite sure that once she had designed the clothes, sung the Hollander songs, and made sure that 'Billy won't insist that the woman was really a Nazi during the war,' A Foreign Affair would become a Dietrich film." See more »
Just after the movie begins,Jean Arthur announces to the Army officers that she is the representative of Iowa's 9th Congressional District. The movie was shot, and set, after the end of WWII in 1945. Iowa's 9th District was eliminated by redistricting after the 1940 Census, and ceased to exist after the representatives elected in 1942, the first elections with the redrawn 8 districts, took office at the beginning of 1943. This error may have been by intent to avoid connecting her to a real postwar district. 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.
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