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"When You Wear Those Golden Earrings, Love Will Come To You"
    -- from the theme song Golden Earrings

Produced by Harry Tugend
Directed by Mitchell Leisen
Wrritten by Frank Butler, Helen Deutsch, Abraham Polonsky from a novel by Yolanda Foldes
Original music by Victor Young
Starring Ray Milland, Marlene Dietrich, Murvyn Vye, Bruce Lester, Dennis Hoey


This film was made the same year I was born and I saw it on television about a decade later. I thought it was one of the best movies I had ever seen and I watched it again whenever it was shown on local TV. I might have gotten my ears pierced then and there if I hadn't feared it might be too "sissy".

The film opens at a London men's club in 1947 where real-life American journalist Quentin Reynolds notices that one of the club members, General Ralph Denistoun (Ray Milland), has pierced ears. He asks another member about it and is told that Denistoun returned from a pre-war secret mission with pierced ears and a personality change from stuffed shirt to man of action but no one has had the nerve to ask why. That night Reynolds finds himself on a Paris-bound flight with Gen. Denistoun and hesitantly asks about his pierced ear lobes. The movie continues in flashback as Denistoun tells his story.

His story begins in Germany in 1939 before the war. He and admiring younger officer Richard Byrd (Bruce Lester) are being held as prisoners in an isolated cottage by the Gestapo. They had been sent to Germany to contact Professor Krosigk (Reinhold Schunzel) who had been one of young Byrd's teachers. The professor is the developer of a deadly new poison gas and they are there to obtain the secret formula. They manage to escape and decide to separate, making their way to Eschbach by different paths, agreeing to meet later at a signpost on the road near Eschbach.

As Denistoun makes his way through the woods, he comes on the encampment of Lydia (Marlene Dietrich), a Hungarian gypsy. Her immediate reaction to him is, "you are young; you are strong; you beautiful man." She offers to help him evade the Nazis and dresses him in her late husband's clothes, stains his skin, and pierces his ears for earrings so that he can travel with her in the guise of a gypsy. The disguise allows him to successfully evade the Gestapo search and make his way to the meeting place. His young partner, Byrd, is shot by the Gestapo, however, leaving Denistoun on his own to contact Prof. Krosigk, who has no reason to trust him. In the end, of course, he carries out his mission successfully and swims across the Rhine River into France and safety. The movie ends with him reunited with Lydia, who has managed to avoid the Nazi's roundup and execution of many of Europe's gypsies -- a holocaust she had predicted earlier in the film.

The spy story is only fairly good but the humor generated by the stodgy English officer coping with Lydia and her fellow gypsies is very good and the film's two stars make a very charming couple. Their romance -- near instantaneous on her part and slowly developing on his -- was larded with enough conflict and humor for a preadolescent such as I was to not find it "yucky". The qualities that appealed to me then still make it an enjoyable piece of light entertainment today. The musical score is pleasant too without being anything you'd want to buy a soundtrack CD of.

It was remade in Turkey in 1966 under the title Altin küpeler.