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
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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