"Heil, Johnny": Billy Wilder's A Foreign Affair, or, The Denazification of Erika von Schlütow

Date

01-22-2009

Time

7:30 pm

Location

Chemistry 122

Description

On August 16, 1945 Billy Wilder proposed "Propaganda through Entertainment" to the Information Control Division of the American Military Government in Germany (OMGUS), offering to make an "entertainment film," "a very special love story, cleverly devised to help us sell a few ideological items." Working with a comedy that was a Paramount property, Wilder transformed it into the film A Foreign Affair (1948), starring Jean Arthur and Marlene Dietrich, set against the background of ruined Berlin and dealing with denazification and fraternization. How did the Production Code Administration intervene? How did reviewers respond to a movie that poked fun at what were undoubtedly serious issues?

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