A Foreign Affair
Dir: Billy Wilder
Scrs: Billy Wilder, Charles Brackett, Richard L. Breen, Robert Harari
Orig Story: David Shaw Pho: Charles Lang Ed: Doane Harrison
Cast: Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich, John Lund
1948 / B&W / 35mm / English / Eng Subtitles / 116min
As a Jew, Wilder went to the US to escape the Nazis. But soon after the end of World War II, he returned to devastated Berlin to make popular political romantic comedies. When Congresswoman Phoebe arrives in Berlin to investigate the ethics of American soldiers, she inadvertently stands in the way of an illicit love affair between the soldier John and a German singer Erika. To protect his lover’s Nazi connections from surfacing, John pretends to fall in love with the power women. The three characters each play dual roles in a humorous love triangle. While poking fun at the Americans’ moral correctness, the film also shows compassion for the plight of the Germans as represented by Erika. Casting Marlene Dietrich in the role of the singer with a Nazi background, Wilder let her steal the scene from Jean Arthur and lecture the latter about the naivety of American women. Actually, Jean Arthur makes for many laughs as Phoebe who goes from being a prude to a flirt. Seen as disrespectful to the military and citizens in Berlin, the film was banned in Germany until 1977.
||Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive
*Post-screening talk with Thomas Shin, in Cantonese
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