Released in the same year, 1948, as Billy Wilder’s A Foreign Affair, Fred Zinnemann’s conscientious The Search (showing for the first time since 2003) also made effective use of eerily bombed-out, Allied-occupied German locations (Wilder shot in Berlin; Zinnemann in Nuremberg and others). Montgomery Clift is the selfless US soldier who takes in a young Czech boy (Ivan Jandl) separated from his mother (opera star Jarmila Novotna) at Auschwitz. A more glowing depiction of American intervention than in Wilder’s comedy, The Search rightly won a best story Oscar, and a “Special Juvenile Award” for Jandl, who convinces throughout: frightened, confused, yet independent. Clift brings parental humanity to his part in a superb film that easily earns our empathy.
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