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All the sparkle of a glass of flat champagne!
on 27 May 2011
In post war Berlin, a congressional committee from the United States arrives to observe the morale of the servicemen stationed there. Among them is an uptight, hard nosed "plain Jane" Republican congresswoman (Jean Arthur) who is shocked at the open fraternization between the G.I.s and the local female populace. When she hears that a former Nazi (Marlene Dietrich), the ex-mistress of a high ranking Gestapo officer, is receiving favors and protection from an unknown American serviceman, she demands an investigation. Did I mention this was a romantic comedy? It's laughless and without charm or wit but it tries and the film is filled with the patented cynicism of its director Billy Wilder. I don't know how amusing 1948 audiences thought it was but I found some of the humor off putting, like when a swastika obsessed child draws swastikas over everything including his father's clothes, ha-ha, so funny ... not! Arthur, in her late 40s at this time, is about 10 years too old for the part and her attempts at playing girlish are awkward. The post war Berlin locations are interesting though Wilder (this is one of his weakest films) doesn't use them effectively. Dietrich drones several dreary songs in that unpleasant manner that some find fascinating. With the uncharismatic John Lund as the Army Captain romancing both women (couldn't Wilder have gotten Fred MacMurray?) and Millard Mitchell as his superior.
The Universal DVD via Great Britain is a decent transfer overall though the transfer shows evidence of tear like an annoying vertical line in several sequences.