On the first day that director Billy Wilder's hero, Erich von Stroheim arrived on set, Wilder ran to the wardrobe department to welcome him. He said: "This is a very big moment in my life . . . that I should now be directing the great Stroheim. Your problem, I guess, was that you were ten years ahead of your time." Von Stroheim replied: "Twenty." *slowclaps*
35mm, re-rating. A prodigy of script writing and filming: see the sequences of the chase under the bombing or Stroheim's arrival in the scene, in the frame. Or the brilliant analogy between Anne Baxter's character name (Mouche) and fate and the flies that Nazis constantly intend to kill. This is one of the summits of the great German cinematographic art in Hollywood studios, inside its productive and narrative ways.
Good for an early work. Wilder's third directorial effort (second in Hollywood) isn't perhaps one of the best war movies ever, but it's still an entertaining film that has brief glimpses of Wilder's later genius (although they are buried a bit deeper than for instance in The Major and the Minor).
In only his second effort as a director, Billy Wilder delivers his first of many masterpieces. This film gets lost amid his other classics, but I think that it stands as one of his finest. It works on so many levels - thriller, war film, and with just enough Wilder-Brackett wit to make you laugh. Plus, John Seitz's photography is brilliant - things never looked so dark as when the Germans overtake the hotel.
Early effort from Wilder is an ingeniously designed wartime thriller. Intricately-plotted with energetic performances by Franchot Tone and Erich von Stroheim (though Akim Tamiroff's comic-relief Arab is a bit over the top) and excellent black and white chiaroscuro cinematography by John Seitz. Wilder would go on to make a number cinematic masterpieces, but this is a strong early start.