There are many movies that are set in Berlin; a really great one that is quite unknown today is A Foreign Affair – a comedy from 1948 starring Marlene Dietrich, filmed right after the war in the bombed-out streets of Berlin. More after the jump.
A Foreign Affair is a movie made by emigrants. Director Billy Wilder originally came from Vienna. He worked in the Berlin nightlife of the 1920s before he became one of Hollywood’s most legendary directors. Most importantly, there is Marlene Dietrich, the born-Berliner, who refused to become Goebbel’s bitch and rather emigrated the US. For A Foreign Affair, she returned to her hometown. When the movie was filmed, Marlene Dietrich was already in her forties, playing a much younger women – what you do not see at all. The third famous emigrant who worked on this movie was Friedrich Hollaender, who composed the music. Here is the most well-known song from the A Foreign Affair, which also is a good trailer:
The movie plays immediately after the war. The story is quite simple: rumours are spread in the US, that American soldiers in Berlin do not do the job (denazification, re-education…); instead, they are there going to night clubs all the time and are having fun with German „Fräuleins“ (that’s how they call it). So the US government sends in some politicians to investigate the moral decay of their troops. And it is pretty obvious that these rumours are quite true.
There even is a high ranking US soldiers who is having an affair with a poor, but glamourous nightclub singer (Marlene Dietrich) who is said to be the former mistress of a Nazi leader. But the US soldiers does not care about that. On the contrary, he uses his high position to protect her. Then one female member of the investigation team founds out about it, but she gets romantically involved with the soldier as well…
What is so sympathetic about A Foreign Affair is that it dares to make fun about everything: the war and the Nazis, the Germans and the Americans; there are even jokes about concentration camps – and all of that in a movie that came out in 1948, just three years after the end of Nazi-Germany. However, not all of these jokes are still funny today. A Foreign Affair also is an impressive document of history that reflects the spirit of post-war Berlin. For that reason alone – not to speak of stunning Marlene – A Foreign Affair is definetly worth to rediscover.