Saturday, 28 July 2012

Fresh from Cinema.. ..A Foreign Affair

Some of you might remember that in the beginning of this year I was ardently telling you about a series of a Hanover, Germany cinema which was called Filmcafe and which showed classic films. Well.. I do not know what happened but after they showed CASABLANCA (USA, 1942) which I enjoyed tremendously of course - they never went on with classic films there. (Shame on them.. well.. Now I spent my money on other things..) 

After all there are several cinemas in Hanover and one of my favourites is a very small cinema showing a really interesting program aside from the big blockbuster films.. Usually they show of course recent films - but now and then.. Well.. - last week I was unbelievable lucky to get the chance to see a classic there:

by one of my favourite directors: Billy Wilder.

In a nut-shell:

Berlin, Post WWII. Congress woman Phoebe Frost (Jean Arthur) comes alongside with some other congress members to investigate the morals of the G.I.s in occupied Berlin. Soon she finds out that night club singer Erika von Schlütow (Marlene Dietrich) - who once was the girlfriend of a high-ranked Nazi - now is protected by an US officer.. To learn more she asks Captain John Pringle (John Lund) to be of help - not knowing that he is Erika's lover.. Things get really complicated when Phoebe falls for John - and John finds out that his heart merely beats for a little congress woman from Iowa than for a German Fräulein..

~ Well.. who of those three might be not aware of the real situation?? ... ~

Do you like...

... Billy Wilder films?

... Jean Arthur?

... films set post WWII?

... Marlene Dietrich?

... German Fräuleins and G.I.s?

...well - maybe you should watch this film!

~ Notice something there, Miss Arthur? ~

You know that I am always honest about my feelings and everything else - so I have to admit that I was not too ethusiastic when I first saw this film years ago. Maybe it was simply to cynical for me.. And yes.. since I am a German Fräulein myself in a certain way it was kind of hard for me to see how all those characters seemed to act just out of egoism. Yes.. I know.. Quite naïve.. Well.. Over the years I just grew fond of this film. I really do like it - and that I now had the opportunity to see it on big screen made it even better for me. 
Since I love the "German Fräulein (and allied Soldier resp. G.I.)" theme that much I might do a little series about that.. I will have to think about how that one could look...

~ G.I.s chatting up giggling German Fräuleins.. ~

I love Erika von Schlütow.. Though having a family name with an Umlaut apparently is kind of vulgar in Phoebe Frost's point of view.. Fräulein von Schlütow for sure knows how to survive.. and believe me when Marlene Dietrich says: "Oh.. Johnny..." even a German accent can be sexy.. I could listen to her saying that over and over again.. She makes "Johnny" one of the most attractive names ever.. sorry.. now I am rambling.. you really have to hear it.. And: yes.. somehow I can relate to her.. maybe it's just the national background.. I do not know.. Oh - and please: have a good look at post war Berlin... It looks at the same time creepy and kind of poetic.. 

~  Millard Mitchell as Col. Rufus J. Plummer
showing destroyed Berlin to congress men (and woman)..  ~

Jean Arthur is very, very cute as Phoebe Frost - and she really has some unbelievable funny scenes.. like in the beginning of the film when she puts her things away - completely deadpan and very, very long-winded.. Jean Arthur is one of the most funny actresses I know. 

~ yes.. a key scene.. indeed.. ~

Also John Lund is quite good in his part - though he has the bad luck to star against two great leading ladies.. Millard Mitchell who plays his superior has some quite funny lines in this film - and for sure will give most of you some laughs.. Please watch out for the pianist in this film - like in Billy Wilder's ONE, TWO, THREE (USA, 1961) it's Friedrich Hollaender. You will hear one of Billy Wilder's themes as this film also has the melody of "Isn't it romantic?" - a song I really like.. There are a lot great songs in this film - and even Jean Arthur will be singing..

~ getting sentimental - and musical.. ~

To see classics on big screen is something I really enjoy - it is great to sit in a room with others who will laugh at scenes or shriek at several moments just like you.. It brings a film to live - and I will not even start to tell you how marvellous it is to see those beautiful classic ladies in all their charms like that..

~ Marlene - and her good friend Friedrich Hollaender at the piano ~

As most of you will know the filming wasn't too harmonic since Jean Arthur and Marlene Dietrich didn't get along too well - and also Billy Wilder who got his nerves worn out stated later:

"I have one dame who is afraid to look at herself in a mirror and another who won't stop looking!

I think that Billy Wilder was a genius when it comes to films - but not neccessarely a gentleman or easy to be with - and for sure no genius in diplomacy.. 

~ defenitively a kind of "Star Wars" going on.. if you pardon the pun.. ~

CASABLANCA-fans might like to watch out for Ilka Grüning - who was Mrs. Leuchtag there (the refugee German lady heading for USA with her husband). In A FOREIGN AFFAIR she played a "German wife".

~ yes.. the ways a German Fräulein works...  *wink* ... ~

At last just one little hint - when you (like me) happen to like Marlene Dietrich's Erika von Schlütow you might be interested in WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (USA, 1957) also by Billy Wilder - where she actually plays another character which is kind of related to this German Fräulein... It could be easily taken as a spin off.. ..but of course that's just my opinion..

~ sigh.. just have a look at her shoes.. no question left why I love her - hm? .. ~

Thank you very much for going with me to the movies! 




  1. Another awesome post Irene! And I have seen this one! Love your witty comments like GI's chatting up giggling frauleins...when I was in Germany so many years ago, I myself chatted with several frauleins. So this post has brought back some memories. A kind of Star Wars..HAHA. Love that one! And great pics as usual. Love reading this post Irene and glad you had a great time seeing it! Can't wait for your next cinema experience!

    1. Thank you very, very much, Monty! Haha.. yes.. I can totally imagine your charms working on German Fräuleins...

      Glad you liked the Star Wars pun.. ;")

      You won't have to wait too long for the next cinema visit with me here.. ;") But you knew that alreay - hm? Monty.. you smart fox..

  2. Hi, Irene, just wanted to let you know I've tagged you for an award: Pass it on if you wish :)

    1. Awww! Thank you so much, Rianna!! :")


I really appreciate your comments - I'll read them all and if I can think of an answer I'll post it. :")