Billy Wilder’s Grownup ‘A Overseas Affair’ 1948


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

Even for Billy Wilder,
setting an grownup comedy-drama like A
Overseas 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 blended with
grownup drama miraculously works. Wilder’s humanity is obvious beneath the floor
cynicism over the spoils of post-war life. A
Overseas Affair
is an almost flawless satiric comedy, until you’re anticipating
the slapstick of Howard Hawks’ I Was a
Male Struggle Bride

Love this overseas poster for Billy Wilder’s 1948 “A Overseas 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,
wished to indicate what warfare 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 Overseas Affair.”

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

May very well be simply the timing, however Jean Arthur’s physique language seems to be much less relaxed than
Marlene Dietrich’s, on the set of Billy Wilder’s “A Overseas Affair.”

It’s commendable that
Billy Wilder solid 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—normally such casting was the opposite method 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, attractive,
sophisticated, pragmatic, and worldly. Marlene will get to warble three numbers by
Friedrich Hollaender, which underline the motion. “Black Market,” in
specific, provides film audiences an opportunity to look at 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 Overseas Affair.”

Jean Arthur makes her
comedic final hurrah because the mid-west politician there to examine morale.
Nonetheless, 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 entice 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 Overseas Affair.”

John Lund, as Captain
John Pringle, was thought-about the weak hyperlink of A Overseas Affair’s romantic triangle. Paramount was then attempting to
give Lund the buildup, but it surely’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 preferred John Lund an incredible 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
had been again to the male star dominating the present.

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

Wilder was
upset by the reception that A
Overseas Affair
acquired, but it surely acquired principally good opinions, and it was a
reasonable field workplace hit, making round $150 million in in the present day’s {dollars}. There
are some biting traces by screenwriters Wilder and Charles Brackett concerning the
spoils of warfare that also sting in the present day. A
Overseas 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 Overseas Affair.”

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

was a 12 months 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 complete profession, Arthur really seemed youthful
her complete public life. Now, whereas Jean fretted about how she was photographed
(Wilder was one among a number of who cited this) and he or she most likely used wigs, tapes,
and make-up methods as properly, 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 pictures of older Arthur reveals some traces,
however primarily trying like herself, very like Doris Day when she retired.
Coincidentally, they each retired to Carmel—a showbiz Shangri-la? 

Jean Arthur seemed wonderful 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’ ultimate motion pictures
or roles are decreased, but Arthur had the largest hit in her movie finale, 1953’s
Shane. Thereafter, she solely acted
earlier than the digital camera on two TV reveals, Gunsmoke,
and The Jean Arthur Present, cancelled
after 12 episodes. And Jean seemed wonderful at 66!

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

Dietrich’s movies turned extra rare after the warfare years, as properly. Nonetheless,
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 turned a live performance
performer, giving her a complete new profession. Marlene carried out till 1975, when a
ultimate 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 turned
reclusive the final years of their lives. When Marlene died, there was an enormous
funeral, attended by hundreds of individuals in Germany. With Jean, at her request,
there was no funeral. Jean Arthur died in 1991 at age 90. A 12 months later,
Marlene Dietrich died on the identical age.

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

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

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


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