A Foreign Affair

1948

Action / Comedy / Drama / Romance

8
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 77%
IMDb Rating 7.4 10 5639

Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
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May 10, 2016 at 06:23 AM

Director

Cast

Marlene Dietrich as Erika Von Schluetow
Jean Arthur as Phoebe Frost
Gordon Jones as Military Police
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
818.25 MB
978*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 56 min
P/S 5 / 3
1.73 GB
1456*1072
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 56 min
P/S 2 / 7

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by lasttimeisaw 7 / 10

a minor Wilder-Brackett's output because of its frothiness and a deus ex machina perhaps dished up without much deliberation

Billy Wilder's romance-triangle comedy is set in the Allied-occupied Berlin in 1947, in the face of Hollywood's entrenched agism and sexism, A FOREIGN AFFAIR is bracingly headlined by two 40-plus female marquee players, Jean Arthur (in her penultimate picture) and Marlene Dietrich, in roles which cagily keep their real ages under wraps.

Arthur plays a prudish American congresswoman Phoebe Frost of Iowa, scandalized by the dissipation she witnesses of American soldiers in the rubble strewn city, she is headstrong in making an example by finding out the American officer who is clandestinely protecting a German torch singer Erika von Schlutow (Dietrich), a woman with a Nazi past. Naturally and provincially, Captain John Pringle (an amicable and amenable Lund), another Iowan, is elected as her aide, but little does she know, John is the man she determines to uncover.

So to sabatoge Phoebe's tenacious investigation, John starts to woo her and hope the flirtation can distract her, and indeed, it works (Wilder stages a fluid filibustering resistance before the pair landing their first kiss, and near the end, with a role-changing iteration), but of course, it is the bean-spilling moment that sells the tickets, when Phoebe and Erika share the same limelight, their conversation may well pass the Bechdel test, but what is at stake is a winning/losing game towards a man's love and the less glamorous Phoebe is the honorable also-run, as it seems.

A looming revenge plan from one of Erika's Nazi ex-lovers, is thrown into the game in a very late stage to precipitate a switcheroo, Wilder could never allot Erika too much time in the winner's corner simply because his anti-Nazi ire, which presumably gives a certifiable license for its tepid ending.

Jean Arthur, for one last time, stretches her crow's feet and psyches up for a straitlaced-to-smitten transformation, gives a fine presence but she is on a hiding to nothing in comparison with Dietrich's sultry stature and sing-song poise, especially when those ditties are written by the eminent Friedrich Hollaender (BLACK MARKET is a humdinger), Dietrich is never a singer's singer because of the discernible vocal stricture, but the combo of her contralto timbre and exterior élan is simply par excellence. While Wilder doesn't hide his personal attachment with the city in ruins, striking aerial shots bearing testimony of something its US audience may not realize at then, retrospectively A FOREIGN AFFAIR is a minor Wilder-Brackett's output because of its frothiness and a deus ex machina perhaps dished up without much deliberation.

Reviewed by JLRVancouver 9 / 10

Excellent political comedy

Berlin, 1948, the titular foreign affair may be Captain Pringle's (John Lund) fraternisation with German chanteuse and former companion to Nazi brass Erika Von Schluetow (Marlene Dietrich ), or his wooing of visiting U.S. Congresswoman Phoebe Frost (Jean Arther) (or both) or, more broadly, the ever-present canoodling between US serviceman and the local fräuleins. Shot in part in the bombed-out ruins of Berlin just 2 years after the end of the war, the movie, while a comedy, is a penetrating look at the social implications of occupation, especially on women. The interactions between the allied (American) troops and the local girls is mostly played for laughs (although some viewers might perceive the soldiers as simply coercing young women desperate for food and essentials), but at one point Von Schluetow darkly refers to what had been like being a women when the Russian troops overran the city. The movie opens with a stunning 'travelogue' of the ruined German capital as Frost's Congressional committee is toured around, and along with images of the burned-out city, there are shots of the general misery of the German people (often seen bartering their remaining luxuries for necessities). John Lund is quite good as the Lothario trying to play two hands at once (although there is more going on than meets the eye), Arthur is OK (although a little goofy at times, especially when she is supposed to be drunk), Millard Mitchell is great as the Colonel in charge of shepherding the members of congress around while dealing with the complexities of occupation and of locating high-ranking Nazis hiding out in the city, but the real star is Dietrich. As always, she plays the role of the 'exotic women' to the hilt and I can't imagine why Pringle would even consider giving her up for corn-pone Phoebe Frost (R-Iowa). She also gets most of the best lines (both spoken and sung), especially when she's playing off against Arthur's up-tight and somewhat 'unworldly' congresswomen. All in all, a great political comedy/satire by one of Hollywood's top directors.

Reviewed by SimonJack 10 / 10

Historical comedy, romance and drama in post-war Berlin

"A Foreign Affair," has a first-rate cast, all of whom deliver superb roles. Marlene Dietrich plays her familiar role of a sultry siren, as Erika von Schluetow. She sings three songs in the cabaret in which she works. She had been a registered Nazi since 1935. (In real life, she had fled Nazi Germany and later entertained Allied forces during the war.) Jean Arthur is superb in a much more complex role that mixes seriousness, stuffiness and shock, with humor, giddiness and hurt. She is Phoebe Frost, a member of a U.S. congressional committee going to Berlin "to investigate the morale of American occupation troops – nothing else." John Lund is Capt. John Pringle, a three-year World War II combat veteran who has stayed to serve in the clean-up of Germany. Millard Mitchell is Col. Rufus Plummer who seems to be in charge of Berlin's recovery. Some lesser characters all do very well in their roles.

The movie was filmed mostly in Berlin in 1947. It is a bittersweet mixture of comedy, romance and drama, with a realistic look at the after effects of war. The scenes of a ravished city – from the air, and up close on the ground, give this film substantial historical value. It has an interesting plot, crisp and clear screenplay, and all the trappings of an excellent movie. I give it 10 stars. This is one of the best post-war films that show the destruction of Germany. More than 75,000 tons of explosives were dropped on Berlin by British and American forces.

Austrian-born Billy Wilder helped write the screenplay and directed this film. Wilder got his film start in Berlin. He fled after the rise of the Nazi Party in 1933 and landed in Hollywood in 1934. There is some interesting background to this movie, but various online resources have some discrepancies. Apparently, Wilder served in the U.S. Army in post- war Germany. The U.S. wanted him to make a movie about the Allies and occupied Germany. That led to "A Foreign Affair."

Wilder interviewed many GIs and Germans in Berlin. He met a woman clearing rubble from the streets. She said she was "grateful the Allies had come to fix the gas." Wilder thought it was so she could have a hot meal, "but she said it was so she could commit suicide." Wilder worked that into the movie. Col. Plummer, on the Berlin tour, tells the congressional committee about "the first day the gas works started operating again. There were 160 suicides in Berlin alone. That was 10 months ago. Today they take a match and light the gas and boil themselves some potatoes, but not many potatoes, mind you. There's still a lot of hunger. But there is a new will to live."

The dialog also packs a lot of information about the post-war work of the Army. Plummer tells the committee about the repair of hospitals; handling four million displaced persons, most with no homes to return to; building schools and finding teachers and teaching them; restoring utilities and public services; helping the Germans set up a free press and parliamentary government.

The movie has humorous and serious cynicism. Phoebe says to her male cohorts on the plane, "12,000 of our boys are policing that pest hole down there, and according to our reports they are being infected by a kind of moral malaria. It is our duty to their wives, their mothers, their sisters to find the facts. And, if the reports are true, to fumigate that place with all the insecticide at our disposal."

The ground tour stops to watch a bunch of boys playing baseball. Plummer says, "these kids were old men" when the Allies got to Berlin. "We're trying to make kids out of them again. Trying to kick the goosestep out of them and cure them of blind obedience, and teach them …" Later, they drive by the site of Hitler's underground bunker, and Plummer says, "where he married Eva Braun and where they killed themselves. A lot of people say it was a perfect honeymoon."

John and Phoebe are looking for von Schluetow's file at night. John flips through the files and reads the names aloud, ""Schlaga, Schlagenbury, Schlagenspitz, Schlitz … maybe some of them never got to Milwaukie." Phoebe has the same look of consternation on her face and didn't get the joke. (The Schlitz brewing company of Milwaukie was a major beer brand in the U.S. at the time.)

Serving in the U.S. Army during the Cold War, I flew into Berlin's Templehof Airport on a mail plane in 1963. I visited the sites shown in this film that were then in East Germany (the Russian zone at the time of this film). The Russians wasted no time in building the war memorial to their soldiers killed in the Battle of Berlin. It didn't open until May 1949, so in this movie scene it was under construction.

Here are some of my favorite lines from this film. Erika, ""For 15 years we haven't slept in Germany. First it was Hitler screaming on the radio. Then the war … all the bombing."

Phoebe: "Are there any other sewers like this one?" John, "Oh, three or four maybe, but this is the best sewer."

(John kisses Phoebe in the file room.) Phoebe, "Captain Pringle, no!" John, "Why not? You're not a Nazi. Don't tell me it's subversive to kiss a Republican." Phoebe, "I'm a congresswoman." John, "Yeah. Now I know how I'll cast my absentee ballot come the election."

Phoebe, "When did you learn so much about women's clothes?" John, "My mother wore women's clothes."

Erika to Phoebe after they are released from a police raid, "Let's go up to my apartment. It's only a few ruins from here."

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