::Marlene Dietrich Internet Museum
by Michael Puettner Language English Language German



::1948 - A Foreign Affair / Eine Auswärtige Angelegenheit

USA 1948
black & white

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."

Jean Arthur (Phoebe Frost)
Marlene Dietrich (Erika Von Schluetow)
John Lund (Captain John Pringle)
Millard Mitchell (Col. Rufus J. Plummer)
Peter von Zerneck (Hans Otto Birgel)
Stanley Prager (Mike)
William Murphy (Joe)
Raymond Bond (Pennecot)
Boyd Davis (Giffin)
Robert Malcolm (Kramer)
Charles Meredith (Yandell)
Michael Raffetto (Salvatore)
Damian O'Flynn (Lieutenant Colonel)
Frank Fenton (Major Mathews)
James Larmore (Lieutenant Hornby)
Harland Tucker (General McAndrew)
Bill Neff (Lt. Lee Thompson)
George M. Carleton (General Finney)
Gordon Jones (Military Police)
Freddie Steele (Military Police)
Nick Abramoff (Russian Soldier)
Ted Cottle (Gerhardt Maier)
Zina Dennis (Russian)
Jimmie Dundee (Military Police)
Curt Furburg (Canteen Lorelei Customer)
Josef Goebbels (Himself – archive footage)
Lisa Golm (German)
Leo Gregory (Russian Soldier)
Ilka Grüning (German Wife)
Vilmos Gyimes (Waiter)
Chester Hayes (Russian Soldier)
Len Hendry (Staff Sergeant)
Hans Herbert (Waiter)
Friedrich Hollaender (Piano Player at The Lorelei)
Jerry James (Lieutenant)
Howard Joslin (Military Police)
George Kachin (Russian Soldier)
Willy Kaufman (Waiter)
Phyllis Kennedy (WAC Technical Sergeant)
Henry Kulky (Russian Soldier at Marketplace)
Harry Lauter (Corporal)
Rex Lease (MP Lieutenant)
Norman Leavitt (NCO)
Paul Lees (Soldier)
Ken Lundy (Soldier)
Don Lynch (Soldier)
Gregory Merims (Russian Soldier)
Ralph Montgomery (American Soldier in Nightclub)
Bert Moorhouse (Transport Pilot)
Hazard Newsberry (Lieutenant)
Larry Nunn (Sergeant)
Paul Panzer (Peddler with KnickKnacks and Mattress)
George Paris (Russian Soldier)
Joe Ploski (Canteen Lorelei Customer)
Frank Popovich (Russian Soldier)
Otto Reichow (German Policeman)
Albin Robeling (Cook)
Richard Ryen (Herr Maier)
William Sabbot (Russian Dancer)
William Self (Soldier)
Pat Shade (Soldier)
John Shay (Soldier)
Bill Sheehan (Military Police)
Peter Similuk (Russian Soldier)
Robert J.T. Simpson (Major)
Zivko Simunovich (Russian Soldier)
Walter Thiele (German)
George Unanoff (Russian Soldier)
Edward Van Sloan (German)
Jack Vlaskin (Russian Dancer)
Sergei N. Vonevsky (Russian Soldier)
Henry Vroom (American Sergeant)
Otto Waldis (Inspector)
Fay Wall (Fraulein)
Christa Walton (Fraulein)
Bobby Watson (Adolph Hitler)
Eric Wyland (German Waiter)
Frank Yaconelli (Accordion Player)
Nicholas Zane (Russian Soldier)

Billy Wilder (director)
Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder and Richard L. Breen (screen play)
Robert Harari (adaptation)
Charles Brackett (producer)
Friedrich Hollaender (original music)
Charles Lang (director of photography)
Hans Dreier (art direction)
Walter H. Tyler (art direction)
Sam Comer (set decoration)
Ross Dowd (set decoration)
Edith Head (costume design)
Wally Westmore (makeup supervisor)
Hugh Brown (production manager)
Charles C. Coleman (assistant director)
Douglas Bridges (extra second assistant director)
Withold Grünberg (assistant director: Berlin)
Willi Herrmann (assistant director: Berlin)
Gerd Oswald (second assistant director)
Hugo Grenzbach (sound recordist)
Walter Oberst (sound recordist)
Farciot Edouart (process photography)
Gordon Jennings (special photographic effects)
Dewey Wrigley (process photography)
Guy Bennett (camera operator)
Ed Crowder (grip)
Paul Filipp (still photographer: Berlin)
Herbert Greyer (assistant camera: Berlin)
James Hawley (assistant camera: second unit)
Jack Koffman (still photographer)
Kurt Schulz (camera operator: Berlin)
Doane Harrison (editorial supervisor)
Sidney Cutner (orchestrator)
Friedrich Hollaender (musical director)
Leo Shuken (orchestrator)
Van Cleave (orchestrator)
Harry F. Hogan (script supervisor)
Ronnie Lubin (dialogue director)
C.A. Murphy (technical advisor)
based on an original story by David Shaw

»Black Market«, »Illusions«, »The Ruins of Berlin« by FREDERICK HOLLANDER (Friedrich Hollaender)

3270m, 116 Minutes

Berlin, Germany location shooting: 17 Aug - 5 Sep 1947
Los Angeles studio shooting: 1 Dec 1947 - 10 Feb 1948
Retakes and 2d unit: 12 Feb 1948

New York premiere: 7 Jul 1948
Los Angeles opening: 22 Jul 1948

Acadamy Award Nominations:
Best Cinematography (1948): AA-Best Cinematography
Best Writing, Screenplay (1949): AA-Best Writing, Screenplay - Billy Wilder