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In 1938, a German singer falls in love with a Jewish composer in Zurich, who helps Jews flee Nazi Germany. She wants to help but is forced back to Germany. Her song "Lili Marleen" becomes a hit with soldiers and the Nazi top.


Manfred Purzer (original screenplay), Joshua Sinclair (screenplay contributor) | 4 more credits »
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Hanna Schygulla ... Willie
Giancarlo Giannini ... Robert
Mel Ferrer ... David Mendelsson
Karl-Heinz von Hassel Karl-Heinz von Hassel ... Henkel (as Karl Heinz von Hassel)
Erik Schumann ... von Strehlow
Hark Bohm ... Taschner
Gottfried John ... Aaron
Karin Baal ... Anna Lederer
Christine Kaufmann ... Miriam
Udo Kier ... Drewitz
Roger Fritz Roger Fritz ... Kauffmann
Rainer Will Rainer Will ... Bernt
Raúl Gimenez Raúl Gimenez ... Blonsky (as Raul Giminez)
Adrian Hoven ... Ginsberg
Willy Harlander Willy Harlander ... Prosel


In Switzerland, German singer Willie falls in love with Jewish composer, Robert, who offers resistance to the Nazis by helping refugees. But his family thinks Willie is a Nazi and may be a risk for them. One day Willie helps Robert but, has to stay in Germany. As Willie starts to sing the song 'Lili Marleen' she becomes very famous and every soldier hears that song via radio - even Hitler wants to meet her, but she still does not forget Robert, and helps to smuggle photos of concentration camps to the free Switzerland. Robert wants to visit her, but is captured. Will never see Willie again until war is over. Written by Marco Louis <Alouisius@hotline.pfalz.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Music | Romance | War


R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Shot in English for American distribution; later dubbed in German See more »


The German officer, Kaufmann, who arrests Robert on the train wears the uniform of an SS-Gruppenfuhrer (General) - it is highly unlikely that an SS General of such rank would be checking identity papers at random on a train. See more »


Willie: In front of the barracks / In front of the big gate / Stood a lantern / And there it stands today / And so we want / To see each other / There again / By the lantern we want to stand / Just like Lili Marleen back then / Like Lili Marleen
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Featured in Century of Cinema: Die Nacht der Regisseure (1995) See more »


Got A Bran' New Suit
(orig. written for the musical "At Home Abroad", 1935)
Lyrics By Howard Dietz
Music By Arthur Schwartz
Vocals by Hanna Schygulla
See more »

User Reviews

See the German language version
15 July 2002 | by zellexSee all my reviews

Yes, there is such a thing, despite the fact that IMDb does not currently list it.

This film is a clever examination of how hard it was NOT to become part of the Nazi system. Willie is a German singer, in love with a Swiss Jewish conductor. She returns to Germany to help her lover with the resistance, however his father - who disapproves of their relationship - has arranged that she will not be able to return to Switzerland. Stranded in Berlin, Willie is forced to use a Nazi connection just to get some work...and he just happens to be the newly appointed Cultural Director. So Willie is given the opportunity to perform and record 'Lili Marleen'. The song becomes a hit, and Hitler becomes a fan. I won't go into the rest of the plot, but be assured that there are twists and turns.

By the end of this movie, you will not be able to get the song 'Lili Marleen' out of your head as it is repeated countless times. Believe me, I saw the film last week, and I am still singing it.

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West Germany


English | German

Release Date:

14 January 1981 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Lili Marlene See more »

Filming Locations:

Berlin, Germany See more »


Box Office


DEM10,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,623, 16 February 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Fujicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

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