Saturday, February 4, 2012

Love Among the Ruins

For about ten minutes there, I thought I was going to get a private screening.

Then just moments before the showing of "A Foreign Affair" at Movieland, a few people straggled in to see the Billy Wilder comedy I'd never even heard of.

Made in 1948 and shot mostly in Berlin (where apparently they still had horses and carts in the streets next to cars and bikes), it was like an old newsreel with its bird's eye view of the badly bombed-out city.

As in, "Let's go to my apartment. It's only a few ruins away from here."

The story was about a Congressional committee going to Germany after the war to check on the possibility of "moral malaria" infecting our peacekeeping troops.

Seems we were worried about our soldiers flirting with Frauleins and "soaking their feet in sparkling Mosel."

Because it was a Billy Wilder film, the dialogue was smart and funny. "Never let another woman tell you how you look. Ask a man," our hero tells the Congresswoman from Iowa.

I'd take that man's advice.

The kissing scenes were great. Early on when he first wants to kiss her, she puts her defenses up, opening file cabinet drawers between them to keep him at a distance.

When someone suspects that she might be interested in a man, a fellow Congressman scoffs at Cupid, saying, "You can't shoot an arrow through steel."

Eventually, she buys a sexy, black dress and some lipstick (after being chastised by siren Marlene Dietrich for her "scrubbed face") on the black market for her evening with the hero.

He thinks he's taking her to the Officer's Mess for dinner but she's got another kind of evening in mind, suggesting the dive bar Lorelei instead.

"I want it dark and gay and with music."

Let's just say he falls prey to her charms there.

By the last scene, he's picking up chairs in the bar to hold her off and she's tossing them aside to kiss him.

With romance like that, I didn't care how many other people were in the theater (six).

Ain't love grand?

Or, as the heroine said, "What a waltz we had!"

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