Fred Zinnemann & Montgomery Clift
Although Montgomery Clift shot this film following Red River (1948), it was released six months earlier and the combined success of both immediately made him a star. The film, which was the first to be made in Europe after WWII with an American director and cast, was partially based on Europe’s Children, a book of photographs by Therese Bonney documenting the orphans of the war.
Shot in the American occupied zone of Germany, much of the film, the product of years of research, was based on actual incidents. It opens at the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration camp at which war orphans, who have been found wandering through bombed-out ruins, are given temporary housing. The severely traumatized children, many of whom are survivors of concentration camps whose parents are dead, find normal communication almost impossible.
Karel Malik (Ivan Jandl), a young Czech boy, is one of these. His mother, Hanna (Jarmilia Novotna), lost contact with him when they were in Auschwitz and she now travels from one refugee camp to another in search of her son. While being transported in an ambulance, some of the children, including Karel, break out and scatter. American G.I. Ralph Stevenson (Montgomery Clift) finds him wandering aimlessly, takes him back to his base to feed him, and begins to teach him English.