Things heat up when straight-laced Congresswoman Phoebe Frost discovers that a U.S. Army Captain is more than allies with a Berlin bomb-shell, in this often amusing and forever endearing film directed by ten-time Academy Award nominee and two-time Academy Award winner, Billy Wilder.
Highly Recommended Wilder Treasure.
- A Foreign Affair review by Steve Mason
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A Foreign Affair is classic Billy Wilder, but rarely screened and too little known. The film is set (and shot) in the ruins of postwar Berlin, the city in which Wilder first worked in cinema, during the 1930s. He returned to make a film that could hardly seem less auspicious to audiences in America. It's the story of an officer posted in the American sector (John Lund) who has adapted to the special circumstances of a city in ruins, the black market, the prostitution, who is the lover of a woman (Marlene Dietrich) rumoured to be the ex mistress of a former high ranking Nazi official. A congresswoman from Ohio (Jean Arthur) has been sent to investigate rumours of impropriety among American soldiers, and in particular, the unknown officer thought to be linked with Dietrich.
Arthur is a moralist, who works by the rules. She learns the facts of life in Berlin soon enough, and discovers her own humanity in the process, while falling in love with Lund. The city she finds is one where people do what they can to survive, and dignity and self respect are the commodities that Berliners can least afford. It is an incredible feat of Wilder's to tell this story to a world coming out of war, to people who had fought the Nazis for so many years. And yet he convinces of the need for tolerance and forgiveness. It is a very sophisticated film, and, incredibly, it's a comedy. It's funny. And it's exceptionally moving too.
And... Marlene sings three songs by Friedrich Hollaender: The Ruins of Berlin, Illusions and Black Market. Not to be missed.