Verboten! (1959)

Verboten! (1959)

“I will show you there is a difference between a Nazi and a German!”

When an American sergeant (James Best) is wounded while exploring a sniper-infested village in Germany near the end of World War II, he’s nursed to health by a German woman (Susan Cummings) who he marries — but is Cummings genuinely in love with Best, or just exploiting his access to food? Meanwhile, Cummings’ impressionable younger brother (Harold Daye) becomes more deeply involved in a group of neo-Nazi “werewolves” whose deceptive leader (Tom Pittman) works alongside Best.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Cross-Cultural Romance
  • Nazis
  • Sam Fuller Films
  • World War II

Former G.I. Samuel Fuller wrote, directed, and produced this punchy look at life in post-war Germany, as former Nazis and everyday Germans tried to find a place for themselves in a landscape run by the American Military Government. Made on an incredibly low budget, the film’s sparse sets nonetheless effectively set the tone for a politically confused nation with starving citizens unsure where to turn or what to do next.

Verboten! is notable for preceding Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) in its frank depiction of the atrocities of concentration camps, with ample use made of actual footage — and if Fuller is typically blunt in his handling of dramatic scenes, it’s in service of a story worth telling.

This one is a must-see for Fuller fans, and recommended for others.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Expressive low-budget sets

  • Joseph Biroc’s atmospheric cinematography

Must See?
No, but it’s worth a look as a unique film by a unique director.


One thought on “Verboten! (1959)

  1. Must-see, as a potent Fuller film that film fanatics should know.

    (Rewatch.) Very effective, uncompromising post-war drama that has a unique angle – one that is likely to be unfamiliar in its possibilities even to those who have seen a fair amount of WWII films.

    It’s hard-hitting, with powerful dialogue and brilliant use of its limited budget (as well as the extended use of disturbing but valuable archival footage). It’s also of note for convincing performances from actors who won’t be thought of as ‘A-list’.

    A memorable experience (though personally I could have done without the opening ‘love theme’ sung by Paul Anka).

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