A-Foreign-Affair
Screening at the Hong Kong Film Archive as part of mini retrospective showcasing the collaborations between Billy Wilder and Marlene Dietrich, I went into this with no other information and had a complete blast. Set and filmed in Berlin immediately after WWII, the film follows uptight congresswoman Jean Arthur on an observational mission to study mrale of the men stationed in the city. What she discovers is a community who spend most of their time dealing in contraband and cavorting with the local women. She begins investigating German lounge singer Erika (Dietrich) suspected of being the former lover of a missing Nazi war criminal, and now seeing American officer Cat. John Pringle (John Lund). When Pringle is then assigned to assist the congresswoman in her investigation, the stage is set for humour, drama and a complicated love triangle in the war torn ruins of Berlin. 65 years after its original release, the film is sharp and witty as ever, with likable leads – even if both actresses are more than a decade older than their romantic interest. The spotlight was clearly on Dietrich, but it is Arthur who steals the show, as the shrewish spinster slowly finding the confidence to explore her feelings in this hedonistic enivornment where anything goes.