7.4/10
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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:

Billy Wilder

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jean Arthur ... Congresswoman Phoebe Frost
Marlene Dietrich ... Erika Von Schluetow
John Lund ... Captain John Pringle
Millard Mitchell ... Colonel Rufus J. Plummer
Peter von Zerneck Peter von Zerneck ... Hans Otto Birgel
Stanley Prager ... Mike
William Murphy ... Joe (as Bill Murphy)
Raymond Bond Raymond Bond ... Congressman Pennecot
Boyd Davis Boyd Davis ... Congressman Giffin
Robert Malcolm ... Congressman Kramer
Charles Meredith ... Congressman Yandell
Michael Raffetto ... Confressman Salvatore
Damian O'Flynn ... Lieutenant Colonel
Frank Fenton ... Major Mathews
James Lorimer James Lorimer ... Lieutenant Hornby (as James Larmore)
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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 »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

20 August 1948 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La mundana See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For one take, Billy Wilder replaced John Lund with Ray Milland and the studio didn't notice. 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] I'll trade you for your candy, Some gorgeous merchandise, My camera - it's a dandy! Six by nine - just your size. You want my porcelain figure? A watch? A submarine? A Rembrandt? Salami? Black lingerie from Wien?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Marlene Dietrich: Shadow and Light (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Meadowlands
(uncredited)
Written by Lev Knipper and Viktor Gusev
Sung by chorus (Soviet soldiers)
See more »

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User Reviews

"Want to buy some illusions?"
1 June 2001 | by ChWasserSee all my reviews

Why is this film less known than "Casablanca" or "The Third Man"? Maybe it's because many see it as "just" a comedy, which these people consider a "lesser" art-form. In my opinion they miss that the brilliant screenplay just smoothes out the edges and puts some very sharp and witty dialogue on a plot and setting, which is actually very "noir"ish at heart. I guess it takes someone like Billy Wilder, who returned with this film to a city where he once lived (and that he loved), to discover the comic effect of a "weight-challenged" GI with a bunch of flowers and a dachshund on the lead walking to his "Fräulein" through the ruins of a bombed-out street. Less ingenious directors probably would have indulged in mourning and (self)-pity, which is exactly why many German movies from that immediate post-war time are unwatchable (unless you are fascinated by the morbid beauty of the ruins and rubble).

As a German my only minor quibble with "A Foreign Affair" is the German dialogue (not the occasional "Strudel" and "Gesundheit" from the American actors, but the actual German by supporting actors and extras): in most cases it sounds embarrassingly dumb, even feebleminded. Apart from one scene that has the same level of cynicism as the English dialogue (the choleric policeman asking "You live? Do you have permission?" after the "Lorelei" round-up), only Marlene Dietrich is allowed to talk normally.

Otherwise it's one of Billy Wilder's best films (which is synonymous with being one of the best films of all time). Unfortunately you don't get characters like Captain Renault ("Casablanca"), Major Calloway ("The Third Man") or Colonel Plummer ("A Foreign Affair") anymore in contemporary films. A pity!


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