A Foreign Affair

Screening on Film
Directed by Billy Wilder.
With Jean Arthur, Marlene Dietrich, John Lund.
US, 1948, 35mm, black & white, 116 min.
Print source: Universal

In A Foreign Affair, the famously jaundiced sense of humor shared by Wilder and co-writer Charles Brackett was turned upon a remarkably timely subject: the interaction between the American occupiers and native Germans in war ravaged Berlin. The result is a deeply subversive comedy of manners that pits a corn-fed ingénue, played by Jean Arthur, against Marlene Dietrich’s sultry blackmarketeer, with both women vying for the affections of Army soldier John Lund, whose world-weary cynicism emblematized the Wilder anti-hero. Among the finest of Wilder’s early films, A Foreign Affair today remains strangely underappreciated—even despite Dietrich’s luminous presence in one of her great postwar roles. 

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