Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Foreign Affair

A Congresswoman (Jean Arthur) heads to postwar, occupied Berlin on a government probe of American corruption, and is introduced to an Army captain and fellow Iowan (John Lund), who is carrying on an affair with a sexy local chanteuse (Marlene Dietrich). After a mix-up, the singer falls onto the representative's radar who in turn gradually falls for the Captain. "A Foreign Affair" is a wonderful excursion from the inimitable Billy Wilder and the first of two of his films set in the postwar German capital, the second being the riotous "One, Two, Three". Written with often collaborator Charles Brackett, the film features the typical brand of zany and witty Wilder humor, mixed with stinging social commentary aimed at dark subjects. In the lead role, Lund does a nice job playing a somewhat thankless role giving way to the tremendous work of his female screenstars. Marlene Dietrich is sly and sultry as Lund's mistress, and Jean Arthur is impeccable as the goody goody congresswoman and slowly begins to come unwound. "A Foreign Affair" isn't one of the first titles that springs to mind when the great directors name is mentioned, but it is yet another example of his incomparable talents and wit.