You know the plot before it happens but it is still very touching because of the way it is handled. The performances by Clift, Aline MacMahon, Jarmila Novotna and Ivan Jandl under Zinnemann's direction are perfection.
Fred Zinnemann is just a rather unheralded genius imo. Every film of his I have seen has been unique and with a very personal touch (see The Nun's Story and Seventh Cross for others). The use of non-trained actors lends an authenticity to the film, and Clift is great in his debut. An essential film in my eyes. 5 easy stars