Foreign Affair, A (1948)

Foreign Affair, A (1948)

“Now that we’ve won the war, we musn’t lose the peace!”

A prim congresswoman (Jean Arthur) sent to war-ravaged Berlin to investigate troop morale falls for the captain (John Lund) tasked with accompanying her, not knowing that he’s engaged in an ongoing affair with a nightclub singer (Marlene Dietrich) whose past is decidedly shady.


Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett’s long-time collaboration included co-authoring (with Richard L. Breen) this satirical romantic comedy about the inevitable corruption that emerged in post-WWII Germany as Americans attempted to help rebuild the nation while war-weary G.I.s were equally eager to have some fun. The engaging script pulls no punches in showing countless examples of what was really happening in Berlin: while being driven through town, Arthur sees not only a ravaged cityscape (nearly half a million buildings were destroyed over the course of 400 Allied bombing raids), but GIs cavorting with frauleins on just about every park bench, and a young mother pushing a pram with American flags flying on either side; once out of the car, Arthur herself is quickly accosted by two GIs on bicycles who use all their techniques on her (offering candy bars, etc.). At the heart of the story, however, is Dietrich — as radiant as ever at 46, singing several sultry songs and boldly inhabiting a Nazi-sympathizing opportunist completely opposite her real-life stance as an anti-Fascist activist. Lund fills the bill well as the central male love interest, and Charles Lang’s cinematography nicely captures the shadowy nature of an occupied city. This one remains worth a look.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine performances by the leads

  • Atmospheric cinematography and sets

  • A bitingly satirical script

Must See?
Yes, as a still-enjoyable satire.



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