Rent A Foreign Affair (1948)

3.6 of 5 from 78 ratings
1h 52min
Rent A Foreign Affair (aka Operation Candy Bar) Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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From the inimitable Billy Wilder (Double Indemnify, The Lost Weekend) comes this classic comedy that mixes romance with hard-boiled wit in a story about stiff-necked Iowa congresswoman Phoebe Frost (Jean Arthur -Shane) mired in jaded postwar Berlin. As she investigates the morale of American troops, Phoebe is cynically wooed by fellow Iowan Captain John Pringle (John Lund), who is trying to cover up his affair with Nazi-tainted chanteuse Erika von Schlutow (Marlene Dietrich). Filled with sharp dialogue and satiric jabs, 'A Foreign Affair' is one of Wilder's most beloved comedies...
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Charles Brackett
Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, Richard L. Breen, Robert Harari, David Shaw
Richard L. Breen, Charles B. Lang Jr.
Operation Candy Bar
Universal Pictures
Classics, Comedy, Romance
Release Date:
Run Time:
112 minutes
Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
B & W
Release Date:
Run Time:
116 minutes
English LPCM Mono
English Hard of Hearing
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.37:1
B & W
BLU-RAY Regions:
  • Audio commentary by film historian Joseph McBride
  • From Berlin to Hollywood: Wilder and Dietrich's Foreign Affair - A video essay by Kat Ellinger
  • Two radio adaptations of 'A Foreign Affair', broadcast as part of the Screen Directors Playhouse in 1949 and 1951; featuring the voices of Billy Wilder, Marlene Dietrich, Rosalind Russell, John Lund, and Lucille Ball
  • Archival interview with Billy Wilder
  • Theatrical Trailer

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Reviews (2) of A Foreign Affair

Forgotten Wilder. - A Foreign Affair review by Steve Mason

Spoiler Alert
Updated 28/02/2021

A Foreign Affair is classic Billy Wilder, but rarely screened and too little known; a near remake of Ninotchka, also scripted by Wilder and Brackett. Jean Arthur is a sober, straightarrow Senator from Iowa who flies into the ruins of postwar Berlin to investigate the behaviour of US soldiers in occupation. Only she falls in love with the biggest transgressor,  Captain Pringle (John Lund) who is now keeping Marlene Dietrich, the mercenary former mistress of a leading Nazi, in soap and coffee.

The Senator 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. 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.  This is only Wilder's second comedy, and began his trait of attributing a cynical humour to a scenario more typical of melodrama. Here, the destruction of Germany, and its lingering fascism.

Perhaps surprisingly for a director who fled the Nazis and whose mother died in a concentration camp, Wilder shows pragmatic sympathy for the survivors of the bombed out city, as well as broadmindedness towards the unethical behaviour of American soldiers. The comedy gets progressively bleaker until it becomes quite noirish towards the end, a style in which Wilder was equally at home.

As Congresswoman Phoebe Frost, the ice maiden who thaws, Arthur lacks appeal. Lund is believable, but perhaps wants for charm. But Marlene Dietrich is sensational, most indelibly in singing three downbeat, sardonic cabaret numbers by Friedrich Hollaender. Wilder and Brackett give her some persuasive poetic dialogue. It's hard to imagine the film could succeed without her.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

interesting piece of history, - A Foreign Affair review by pete b

Spoiler Alert

more than anything, i enjoyed this film for the snapshot it provides of post-war berlin. more than anything, i enjoyed this film for the snapshot it provides of post-war berlin.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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