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Before Winter Comes (1968)

M | | Comedy, Drama, War | 1968 (UK)
After World War II, in an Austrian camp for displaced people, an interpreter mediates between the British and the Soviets regarding the fate of various refugees.


J. Lee Thompson


Andrew Sinclair (screenplay), Frederick L. Keefe (based on The Interpreter by)




Cast overview, first billed only:
David Niven ... Major Burnside
Topol ... Janovic
Anna Karina ... Maria
John Hurt ... Lieutenant Pilkington
Anthony Quayle ... Brigadier Bewley
Ori Levy ... Captain Kamenev
John Collin John Collin ... Sergeant Woody
Karel Stepanek ... Count Kerassy
Guy Deghy ... Kovacs
Mark Malicz Mark Malicz ... Komenski
Gertan Klauber ... Russian Major
Hana Maria Pravda ... Beata (as Hana-Maria Pravda)
George Innes ... Bill
Tony Selby Tony Selby ... Ted
Hugh Futcher ... Joe


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 people 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 »

Did You Know?


Major Burnside: The trouble is, you think you run this camp.
Janovic: No, no, sir. What ever I do, you have the last blame.
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Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: OCCUPIED AUSTRIA SPRING, 1945 See more »


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

Lightweight cold war story.
14 September 2020 | by CinemaSerfSee all my reviews

David Niven stars in this rather unremarkable post-war comedy drama set in an Austrian camp that sorts out and repatriates displaced people. He leads the British contingent with Ori Levy ("Capt. Kamenev") his Russian counterpart with whom he has an uneasy sort of truce. Topol is their charismatic interpreter/peace broker "Janovic" who oils the wheels of their procedures - but he has a secret and when Niven and the Russian find out, he finds life becomes quite precarious. The comedy struggles, to be honest - Niven tries hard, but Topol too hard - neither seem to really want to be here. The presence of the naively optimistic young "Lieut. Pilkington" (John Hurt) and the cynical "Brig. Bewley" (Anthony Quayle) - who is aware of an incident in Niven's past, suggests that there is an underlying message in the film, but nothing really hits home. There are duty versus compassion clashes, and imperialist versus communist ones too - but the setting and characterisations don't support any real substance to these, and the films flails a bit before an ending that is surprisingly robust.

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Release Date:

1968 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Quiero ser libre See more »

Filming Locations:

Austria See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)


Color (Technicolor) (uncredited)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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