A Foreign Affair, directed by Billy Wilder, with Marlene Dietrich
7 out of 10
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
This film has been included by The New York Times on its list of Beat 1,000 Movies Ever Made:
The premise is excellent:
For the director is one of the most accomplished:
- Billy Wilder, winner of six Academy Awards and of other formidable prizes for masterpieces like:
- The Apartment, Fortune Cookie, Some Like It Hot, Witness for the Prosecution, Sunset Blvd. and many other
There is also Marlene Dietrich.
She is one of the most acclaimed and loved stars.
I am not a fan.
But I admit there is a special halo around this actress, albeit for me it a rather chilling effect and I am rather frozen than attracted by this star.
She plays a singer in this film:
- Erika von Schluetow
In the love triangle that is at the heart of the story, Erika von Schluetow has an affair with Captain John Pringle.
The other leading role has a politician, which is rather strange, given that she is a woman, in an era when that was rare.
Congresswoman Phoebe Frost flies to Berlin with a team of congressmen, to see firsthand what happens in the city.
World War II is over and the allies have occupied the city which we can see during the tour that the officials get has been nearly destroyed.
The congresswoman has a package to deliver to Captain John Pringle, from a girl that seems to love him very much.
He would later dismiss that claim, saying that she was in the habit of forming repeated relationships with other men.
The cake has his name on it and love, happy birthday – details which will make it recognizable in the black market.
This is where people buy and sell everything, from mattresses to milk, food and now a birthday chocolate cake.
John Pringle wants to trade the cake for a mattress that he intends to give as a gift to the singer, Erika von Schluetow.
Alas, the congresswoman happens on the cake in the black market and is very unhappy that the package she had brought all the way across the ocean ended there.
The cunning captain pretends to be outraged as well, claiming with a loud voice that someone has stolen his desert.
It is going to be pretense – and some humor, but not belly laughs for me- all the way from here, during the investigation.
Phoebe Frost is a good name for a woman that appears to be, well, frosty.
She finds out that the singer had been a kind of collaborator who had had close relationships with the Nazi grandees.
In a film that she shows the captain, Erika von Schluetow is in conversation with Hitler and they joke with each other.
The congresswoman wants to get the American officer that protects this Nazi sympathizer and that happens to be…
- The man she talks to
The comedy is kept going by the paradox of the captain looking for…himself and trying to spy on the woman that he actually sleeps with.
It all becomes a somewhat amusing “ménage a trois” when the effort to keep the investigating congresswoman brings her into this love game.
In conclusion, it is not a bad comedy but I was expecting more.