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Two Films by Billy Wilder

Wednesday, January 3, 1979
9:20 p.m. A Foreign Affair
Billy Wilder (USA,1948)

One of the trailblazing American movie satires, Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair brought down the displeasure of Congress and the Defense Department for aiming its wit at such taboo targets as de-Nazification, black market activities, and G.I. fraternization in post-war Berlin. Dietrich’s performance as the ex-mistress of a top Nazi, who now makes a living by singing in a shady cellar called The Lorelei, is an evocative and resonant reprise of her Lola-Lola in The Blue Angel. The story involves Jean Arthur as a Claire Booth Luce-like Congresswoman who comes to investigate the "moral malaria" infecting occupying G.I.’s in Berlin, where she finds the situation to be a lot more complex than she bargained for. Quite vicious and savage even today, A Foreign Affair finds Wilder at the height of his iconoclasm and Dietrich in her last big popular role.

• Directed by Billy Wilder. Produced by Charles Brackett. Screenplay by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, Richard L. Breen, based on an original story by David Shaw. Photographed by Charles B. Lang, Jr. With Marlene Dietrich, Jean Arthur, John Lund, Millard Mitchell. (1948, 116 mins, Print Courtesy of Universal 16)