A Foreign Affair (1948)

115-116 mins | Comedy-drama | 20 August 1948

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Operation Candy Bar and Foreign Affairs . According to the HR review of the film, producer Charles Brackett and director Billy Wilder preferred the title Operation Candy Bar . According information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, the title of Irwin Shaw and David Shaw's original story was Love in the Air, which may also have been an early working title for the film. Records at the AMPAS Library indicate a dispute over the screen writing credits for this film. Paramount initially had suggested credits listed as follows: "Screenplay by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder and Richard L. Breen; From stories by Irwin Shaw, David Shaw and Robert Harari." Although the source of 4he dispute is not clearly marked, Irwin Shaw willingly removed his name from the original story credit, but noted in a letter that "it was the original story which made the final screenplay possible, and Mr. Harari only came on after the initial leap had been made." Harari protested against David Shaw receiving any credit for original story, and the matter was taken up by the Screen Writer's Guild for arbitration, which determined that the credits should appear as they now do on the film.
       Information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals that supervising editor Doane Harrison was also listed as co-director on this film. Harrison was supervising editor on all of director Billy Wilder's films, for which he was frequently listed off-screen as co-director. Wilder has stated in a modern interview that while this credit should not be interpreted as equal to ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Operation Candy Bar and Foreign Affairs . According to the HR review of the film, producer Charles Brackett and director Billy Wilder preferred the title Operation Candy Bar . According information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, the title of Irwin Shaw and David Shaw's original story was Love in the Air, which may also have been an early working title for the film. Records at the AMPAS Library indicate a dispute over the screen writing credits for this film. Paramount initially had suggested credits listed as follows: "Screenplay by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder and Richard L. Breen; From stories by Irwin Shaw, David Shaw and Robert Harari." Although the source of 4he dispute is not clearly marked, Irwin Shaw willingly removed his name from the original story credit, but noted in a letter that "it was the original story which made the final screenplay possible, and Mr. Harari only came on after the initial leap had been made." Harari protested against David Shaw receiving any credit for original story, and the matter was taken up by the Screen Writer's Guild for arbitration, which determined that the credits should appear as they now do on the film.
       Information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals that supervising editor Doane Harrison was also listed as co-director on this film. Harrison was supervising editor on all of director Billy Wilder's films, for which he was frequently listed off-screen as co-director. Wilder has stated in a modern interview that while this credit should not be interpreted as equal to the director, he considered Harrison a highly esteemed collaborator. Harrison was present on the set during shooting to add his input on the concept of the scenes, and to recommend certain shots. It is likely that Harrison also contributed in this manner to A Foreign Affair .
       Other onscreen credits state that a "large part of this picture was photographed in Berlin." Filming of backgrounds in the American occupation zone in Berlin, Germany, took place over a period of two months in the summer of 1947. According to information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, Paramount had to get permission from the War Dept. in order to shoot in Berlin, and once there, had to deal with the Military Government for their needs. In addition, Paramount hired a German crew from Film-Studio Tempelhof, a division of UFA. Although some reviewers questioned the appropriateness of using post-war Berlin as the locale and subject of a comedy, many praised Brackett and Wilder for what the NYP called a "healthy, hearty irreverence." The LADN review stated: "The ruins of Berlin is a bit stark and tragic for such corn-on-the-cob nonsense as the romance between Congresswoman Jean Arthur and officer-wolf John Lund."
       As noted in a Paramount News item, in filming the nightclub scenes, Paramount introduced a new "silent" method for shooting dance sequences: flashing lights were used on the set to denote rhythm so that dialogue could be recorded without the obstruction of music. Paramount News also states that seventy-nine pre-war newsreels were studied in order to accurately recreate a newsreel in which "Erika von Schluetow" is seen at a Berlin opera house with Adolf Hitler, Rudolf Hess, Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels and Gestapo chief Hermann Goering.
       According to modern sources, Paramount pulled A Foreign Affair from the theaters not long after its release due to protests from various government officials, who felt the subject matter reflected negatively on American forces in Berlin. Academy Award nominations for the film include Charles B. Lang, Jr. for Best Cinematography (Black-and-White), and Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder and Richard L. Breen for Best Writing (Screenplay). More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Jun 1948.
---
Daily Variety
14 Jun 48
p. 3, 11
Film Daily
14 Jun 48
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Dec 47
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 47
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 47
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 47
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Feb 48
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Jun 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 48
p. 8.
Los Angeles Daily News
23 Jul 1948.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Apr 48
p. 4139.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 Jun 48
p. 4206.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Jul 1948.
---
New York Times
1 Jul 48
p. 19.
Variety
16 Jun 48
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Bill Murphy
Ken Lundy
Walter E. Thiele
Will Kaufman
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
Extra 2d asst dir
Asst dir in Berlin
Asst dir in Berlin
Asst dir in Berlin
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Orig story
Orig story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit cam
2d unit asst cam
Cam op in Berlin
Asst cam in Berlin
Stills in Berlin
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Ed supv
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Marlene Dietrich's songs, music and lyrics, and mu
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
Grip
SOURCES
SONGS
"Illusions," "Black Market" and "The Ruins of Berlin," music and lyrics by Frederick Hollander.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Operation Candy Bar
Love in the Air
Foreign Affairs
Release Date:
20 August 1948
Premiere Information:
New York premiere: 7 July 1948
Los Angeles opening: 22 July 1948
Production Date:
Berlin, Germany location shooting: 17 August--5 September 1947
Los Angeles studio shooting: 1 December 1947--10 February 1948
Retakes and 2d unit: 12 February 1948
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
20 August 1948
Copyright Number:
LP1765
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
115-116
Country:
United States
PCA No:
12791
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In 1947, United States Congresswoman from Iowa, Phoebe Frost, arrives in the American occupation zone in Berlin, Germany, with a group of fellow congressmen to investigate the morale of the ten thousand troops stationed there. The congressmen receive an official greeting from American troops, during which Phoebe presents to Captain John Pringle a home-baked cake, which was sent by his fiancée, whom he has not seen in four years. Unknown to Phoebe, John immediately trades the cake on the black market for a mattress, and brings the mattress and various hard-to-find luxury items to his German girl friend, Erika von Schluetow, a beautiful torch singer. After a tour of the city, the stern and prim Phoebe immediately begins taking notes on the troops playtime antics, which include chasing German blondes in the ruined streets and drinking at an off-limits nightclub called the Lorelei. After being mistaken for a young German woman by a pair of rowdy American soldiers, Phoebe accompanies them to the club, where Erika sings. The soldiers tell Phoebe that although Erika is suspected of having been the girl friend of a Nazi leader--either Hermann Goering or Joseph Goebbels--she is now receiving protection from an American officer. Unknown to Phoebe, the officer is John. Phoebe sees the cake being served at the Lorelei and confiscates it, then appoints John to watch Erika's apartment in order to catch her American lover. The next day, after seeing Erika speaking to Adolph Hitler in a newsreel shot during the war at a Berlin opera house, Phoebe accompanies John to army headquarters to retrieve Erika's official file. To keep Phoebe from accessing the file, John pretends to ... +


In 1947, United States Congresswoman from Iowa, Phoebe Frost, arrives in the American occupation zone in Berlin, Germany, with a group of fellow congressmen to investigate the morale of the ten thousand troops stationed there. The congressmen receive an official greeting from American troops, during which Phoebe presents to Captain John Pringle a home-baked cake, which was sent by his fiancée, whom he has not seen in four years. Unknown to Phoebe, John immediately trades the cake on the black market for a mattress, and brings the mattress and various hard-to-find luxury items to his German girl friend, Erika von Schluetow, a beautiful torch singer. After a tour of the city, the stern and prim Phoebe immediately begins taking notes on the troops playtime antics, which include chasing German blondes in the ruined streets and drinking at an off-limits nightclub called the Lorelei. After being mistaken for a young German woman by a pair of rowdy American soldiers, Phoebe accompanies them to the club, where Erika sings. The soldiers tell Phoebe that although Erika is suspected of having been the girl friend of a Nazi leader--either Hermann Goering or Joseph Goebbels--she is now receiving protection from an American officer. Unknown to Phoebe, the officer is John. Phoebe sees the cake being served at the Lorelei and confiscates it, then appoints John to watch Erika's apartment in order to catch her American lover. The next day, after seeing Erika speaking to Adolph Hitler in a newsreel shot during the war at a Berlin opera house, Phoebe accompanies John to army headquarters to retrieve Erika's official file. To keep Phoebe from accessing the file, John pretends to be in love with her, and chases her around the file cabinets for a kiss. After nervously reciting Longfellow's poem "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" to avoid him, Phoebe relents and passionately kisses him. She immediately falls in love, and within forty-eight hours, John has proposed in order to distract her from pursuing Erika. Erika, meanwhile, asks John to take her to America with him, and he begins to see how manipulative she is. Later, Phoebe dresses up in an elegant gown she got on the black market and goes out with John to the Lorelei, where Erika insults her. Phoebe then announces that she has arranged a furlough for John so that they can marry. After John is called away to report to his colonel, Rufus J. Plummer, Erika and Phoebe are caught in a police raid that is conducted to catch Germans without proper papers. At army headquarters, Plummer warns John that he has been "wise to him" all along before ordering him to stay away from the congresswoman and aggressively court Erika. Plummer hopes to ferret out one of Erika's lovers, a jealous ex-gestapo agent named Hans Otto Birgel, who is thought to be hiding in the American occupation zone. Meanwhile, at the police station, Erika convinces Phoebe not to embarrass the Congress by identifying herself, and gets Phoebe released by saying she is her cousin. Phoebe, thinking Erika has befriended her, goes with her to her apartment, where Erika tells her that John is her mysterious lover and has been pretending to be in love with Phoebe merely to shield Erika. Heartbroken, Phoebe cries, then hides as John enters and tells Erika that his romance with Phoebe was just a ruse. Phoebe then steps out from the shadows and leaves, humiliated. Plummer later delays the congressmen's departure to arrange for John and Phoebe's reconciliation, and in his jeep on the way back from the airfield, tells the group that he appointed John as a "love commando" in order to bring in Birgel. Meanwhile, Birgel surreptitiously enters the Lorelei armed with a gun, and takes aim at John. American soldiers on watch fire first, however, and when Plummer's jeep arrives and Phoebe, who now realizes that John was never really in love with Erika, rushes in to see who was killed, Birgel is revealed dead on the nightclub floor. Plummer has Erika arrested to serve time in a labor camp, and when she tries to use her feminine wiles to manipulate him into releasing her, the formidable colonel tells her that he has just become a grandfather. Determined to marry John, Phoebe corners him in the nightclub for a kiss, and, hiding behind barroom chairs, he recites "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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