Billy Wilder’s Grownup ‘A International Affair’ 1948


Jean Arthur & Marlene Dietrich sq. off in Billy Wilder’s post-war comedy-drama,
 1948’s “A International Affair.”

Even for Billy Wilder,
setting an grownup comedy-drama like A
International Affair
within the ruins of post-WWII Germany was pushing the envelope.
Wilder shot a lot of the footage for this movie in Berlin, a metropolis in ruins, making
it a most bleak backdrop. Billy’s forte for balancing acerbic comedy combined with
grownup drama miraculously works. Wilder’s humanity is obvious beneath the floor
cynicism over the spoils of post-war life. A
International Affair
is an almost flawless satiric comedy, except you’re anticipating
the slapstick of Howard Hawks’ I Was a
Male Conflict Bride

Love this overseas poster for Billy Wilder’s 1948 “A International Affair.”

Wilder’s critics
mistake his cynical angle as uncaring. Billy could also be a curmudgeon, however he does
cares—very a lot so. Billy Wilder who served the US as a movie maker throughout WWII,
needed to indicate what battle had wrought.

Jean Arthur as Congresswoman Phoebe Frost, checking on the morale–and morals!–
of American troopers in post-war Berlin, in Billy Wilder’s “A International Affair.”

Jean Arthur performs the
lone feminine member of a congressional committee despatched to Berlin to examine on the
morale of U.S. troopers. She quickly finds it’s their morals that should be held
in examine! John Lund’s Military captain performs either side to the center, getting his
job executed, whereas bending the foundations to benefit from the spoils. One among these is Marlene
Dietrich’s German nightclub singer, whom Lund lavishes with black market items
for her favors. All three disparate characters endure a change of coronary heart and
angle throughout A International Affair.

Might be simply the timing, however Jean Arthur’s physique language appears to be like much less relaxed than
Marlene Dietrich’s, on the set of Billy Wilder’s “A International Affair.”

It’s commendable that
Billy Wilder forged two actresses he admired, regardless of even by the late Forties,
with divas in their late ‘40s, was
greater than a bit uncommon. Main man John Lund was a decade youthful than
each—often such casting was the opposite means round!

Marlene Dietrich will get
to make use of her seldom utilized aptitude for sardonic comedy because the cynical chanteuse
Erika, whose aspect she is on is whoever’s in energy. She is heat, horny,
sophisticated, pragmatic, and worldly. Marlene will get to warble three numbers by
Friedrich Hollaender, which underline the motion. “Black Market,” in
specific, offers film audiences an opportunity to watch Dietrich’s interpretation
of a music that might make her a live performance legend.

Billy Wilder watches as Marlene Dietrich’s about to sing a quantity in “A International Affair.”

Jean Arthur makes her
comedic final hurrah because the mid-west politician there to examine morale.
Nevertheless, she will get caught up in some questionable morals herself! As Iowa-proud
Phoebe Frost, Jean Arthur goes from comedian perfectionist to a romantic whose
metal lure thoughts slowly opens up for love. I’m not a die-hard fan of Jean
Arthur’s eccentric persona by any means, however she was aces as a comedic actress
who might segue into drama with ease.

Nothing escapes Jean Arthur’s congresswoman, besides that she’s about to fall in love,
in 1948’s “A International Affair.”

John Lund, as Captain
John Pringle, was thought of the weak hyperlink of A International Affair’s romantic triangle. Paramount was then making an attempt to
give Lund the buildup, however it’s too unhealthy Wilder hadn’t found William Holden
but, additionally a Paramount star. Additionally, Tyrone Energy might have been fairly good, as
Ty and Marlene proved a decade later in Witness
for the Prosecution
. Wilder favored John Lund an excellent deal, thought whereas he
was a strong actor, however accurately felt that Lund did not have the star high quality to
maintain up his finish with these two dynamic divas. Particularly since post-war, movies
have been again to the male star dominating the present.

Marlene Dietrich & John Lund pose for publicity photographs, in 1948’s “A International Affair.”

Wilder was
dissatisfied by the reception that A
International Affair
acquired, however it obtained principally good critiques, and it was a
reasonable field workplace hit, making round $150 million in at present’s {dollars}. There
are some biting strains by screenwriters Wilder and Charles Brackett concerning the
spoils of battle that also sting at present. A
International Affair
is clever, grownup, with some memorable set items. 

Billy Wilder discovered Marlene Dietrich straightforward to get together with…
Jean Arthur, not a lot! On the set of “A International Affair.”

two actresses couldn’t be extra reverse, Jean Arthur and Marlene Dietrich
shared some attention-grabbing similarities of their later careers, regardless of their
important variations.

was a yr older than Marlene. Arthur was born in October, 1900 and Dietrich
was born in late December, 1901. Whereas Marlene Dietrich moved heaven and
earth to look eternally younger her total profession, Arthur really seemed youthful
her total public life. Now, whereas Jean fretted about how she was photographed
(Wilder was one in all a number of who cited this) and she or he in all probability used wigs, tapes,
and make-up tips as nicely, Arthur at all times seemed like “herself.” Whereas as time
glided by, Marlene’s face seemed like a glamorous masks of her former self, a lot
just like the latter day Cher. Off-camera photographs of older Arthur exhibits some strains,
however primarily trying like herself, very similar to Doris Day when she retired.
Coincidentally, they each retired to Carmel—a showbiz Shangri-la? 

Jean Arthur seemed superb at 66 in her short-lived 1966 sitcom.

insecurities resulted in her solely performing intermittently from the mid-Forties on.
Sadly, Jean dropped out of two stage classics, Born Yesterday and Peter Pan
(although she did carry out the latter briefly.) Usually, most movie stars’ last films
or roles are decreased, but Arthur had the largest hit in her movie finale, 1953’s
Shane. Thereafter, she solely acted
earlier than the digicam on two TV exhibits, Gunsmoke,
and The Jean Arthur Present, cancelled
after 12 episodes. And Jean seemed superb at 66!

Marlene Dietrich segued from film star to sequined live performance star. Right here she is,
at almost 75, earlier than a fall ended her performing profession.

Dietrich’s movies grew to become extra rare after the battle years, as nicely. Nevertheless,
there have been some diamonds amongst the dross: Hitchcock’s Stage Fright, Wilder’s Witness
for the Prosecution
, and Stanley Kramer’s Judgment at Nuremberg. Alongside the best way, Dietrich grew to become a live performance
performer, giving her a complete new profession. Marlene carried out till 1975, when a
last fall triggered her to interrupt a hip. 

Jean Arthur at 75, with Melvyn Douglas, on stage in “First Monday in October.”

Jean and Marlene primarily retired after 1975. Arthur carried out a handful of
stage performances with Melvyn Douglas in First
Monday in October
. Marlene solely made two extra movies after the ’75 fall: a
cameo in 1979’s Only a Gigolo and
then audio recordings by director Maximilian Schell for the 1984 documentary, Marlene

Marlene Dietrich, giving pesky paparazzi hell, within the early ’70. Go, Marlene!

Marlene Dietrich loved public life, Jean Arthur did not. But each grew to become
reclusive the final years of their lives. When Marlene died, there was an enormous
funeral, attended by 1000’s of individuals in Germany. With Jean, at her request,
there was no funeral. Jean Arthur died in 1991 at age 90. A yr later,
Marlene Dietrich died on the identical age.

A International Affair is an grownup tackle a film love story, mixing
intelligent comedy with heartfelt romance, with a sensible view on life after battle.

Right here’s my tackle Jean
Arthur’s final movie, the western basic Shane:

Right here’s my have a look at one
of Marlene Dietrich’s last movies, Billy Wilder’s all-star courtroom thriller, Witness for the Prosecution:


The cinematic triangle of Billy Wilder’s “A International Affair”: Marlene Dietrich,
John Lund, & Jean Arthur.