A Foreign Affair (1948)

Approved   |    |  Comedy, Drama, Romance

A Foreign Affair (1948) Poster

In occupied Berlin, an army captain is torn between an ex-Nazi café singer and the U.S. congresswoman investigating her.

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  • Marlene Dietrich in A Foreign Affair (1948)
  • Marlene Dietrich and Billy Wilder in A Foreign Affair (1948)
  • Marlene Dietrich and John Lund in A Foreign Affair (1948)
  • John Lund in A Foreign Affair (1948)
  • Jean Arthur in A Foreign Affair (1948)
  • A Foreign Affair (1948)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

7 June 2001 | Polyphem
| Incredible
Billy, just how did you do it?

This is a superb film on post-war Germany, and an amazing take on Berlin in the late 40s. Wilder combines his poetical eye for the comic with a very subtle analysis of morality. And, on top of that, Marlene Dietrich sings and sums it all up. This film is a classic, make no mistake about that, and you definitely want to see it. Plus, it's history.

Billy Wilder had a special relationship with Berlin, and, to be sure, with Germany, and his movies show how deep this understanding ran: "One,Two, Three" and "A Foreign Affair" are among the best films made on Berlin. Full stop.

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Did You Know?


Upon completion of location shooting, Billy Wilder headed back home by way of Paris, where he stopped in to see Marlene Dietrich to convince her to take the part of the German cabaret singer and former Nazi official's mistress. Dietrich had spent most of the war travelling among Allied troops, justly lauded for her anti-fascist efforts, often at the front lines, popping back to the States only occasionally for movie roles. Her immediate reaction when Wilder brought his offer to her at the Hotel Georges V where she was staying was a quick and vehement no. She had no intention of playing a woman with a Nazi past, but Wilder wouldn't take no for an answer. He swayed her with the promise that her songs in the picture would be written by her old friend and frequent composer Friedrich Hollaender. One story has it that eventually he showed her screen tests of other actresses he claimed to be considering for the role and that did the trick (reportedly, one of them was June Havoc), although Wilder denied that such a ploy was ever used. More likely what swayed her was the fact that her screen popularity had waned and she needed a hit movie. It also helped considerably that she would be paid $110,000 with an additional $66,000 promised for overtime.


Phoebe Frost: How do you know so much about women's clothing?
Captain John Pringle: My mother wears women's clothing.


Just after the movie begins,Jean Arthur announces to the Army officers that she is the representative of Iowa's 9th Congressional District. The movie was shot, and set, after the end of WWII in 1945. Iowa's 9th District was eliminated by redistricting after the 1940 Census, and ceased to exist after the representatives elected in 1942, the first elections with the redrawn 8 districts, took office at the beginning of 1943. This error may have been by intent to avoid connecting her to a real postwar district.


Black Market
Written by
Friedrich Hollaender
Sung by Marlene Dietrich


Plot Summary


Comedy | Drama | Romance

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