|Directed by||Fred Zinnemann|
|Produced by||Lazar Wechsler|
|Written by||Richard Schweizer (also story)
David Wechsler (also story)
|Music by||Robert Blum|
|Edited by||Hermann Haller|
|Running time||105 min.|
The Search is a 1948 Swiss-American film directed by Fred Zinnemann which tells the story of a young Auschwitz survivor and his mother who search for each other across post-World War II Europe. It stars Montgomery Clift, Ivan Jandl, Jarmila Novotná and Aline MacMahon.
Trains bring homeless children (Displaced Persons or DPs), who are taken by Mrs. Murray (Aline MacMahon) and other United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) workers to a nearby transit camp, where they are fed and cared for. The next morning, the children are interviewed by UNRRA officials to try to identify them and reunite them if possible with their families.
A young boy named Karel (Ivan Jandl) responds "Ich weiß nicht" ("I don't know") to all questions. He grew up in a well-to-do Czech family. The Nazis had deported his sister and doctor father, while the boy and mother were sent to a concentration camp. They eventually became separated. After the war, Karel survived by scavenging for food with other homeless children.
The next day, the children are split up into groups and loaded into trucks and ambulances to be transferred to other camps. The children in Karel's group are at first terrified because the Nazis often used ambulances to gas victims, but are eventually coaxed into the vehicle. During the trip, the smell of exhaust fumes causes the children to panic. Karel's friend Raoul manages to open the back door, and the children scatter in all directions. Karel and Raoul try to swim across a river to escape from two UNRRA men. Raoul drowns, but Karel hides in the reeds.
Later, Karel encounters an American army engineer, Steve (Montgomery Clift), who takes care of him. He starts teaching the boy English. Because Karel cannot recall his name, Steve calls him Jim.
When Jim sees a boy with his mother, he starts to remember his own mother and the last time he saw her, near a fence in the concentration camp. He runs away one evening thinking the fence is nearby. Jim finds a fence at a factory, but cannot find his mother among the workers going home. Steve eventually finds Jim and tells him that his mother is dead (Steve has reason to believe she had been gassed) so he will stop searching for her. He also informs Jim that he is going to try to adopt him and take him to America to start a new life there.
As it turns out, Karel's mother, Mrs. Malik (Jarmila Novotná), is alive. In a parallel story, she has been searching for her son. By chance, she begins working for Mrs. Murray at the same UNRRA camp where her son had been processed. After a while though, she resigns to resume her nearly-hopeless search for Karel.
That same day, Steve takes the boy to the UNRRA camp before leaving for America. He hopes to send for the boy once the paperwork is completed. Mrs. Murray remembers the boy. Suspecting that Jim is Karel, she hurries to the train station to bring Mrs. Malik back, but the train has already left. Then, she sees Mrs. Malik on the train platform; she had changed her mind and decided to stay.
Mrs. Murray takes her back to the UNRRA camp and has her greet the newest group of children. Steve tells Jim to join the new arrivals. Mrs. Malik begins to organize the children and bids them to follow her. Jim walks past without recognizing her. Mrs. Malik almost makes the same mistake, but then turns and calls, "Karel!", and the boy and his mother are reunited.
- Montgomery Clift as Ralph "Steve" Stevenson
- Aline MacMahon as Mrs. Murray
- Jarmila Novotná as Mrs. Hanna Malik
- Wendell Corey as Jerry Fisher
- Ivan Jandl as Karel Malik / "Jim"
- Mary Patton as Mrs. Fisher
- Ewart G. Morrison as Mr. Crookes
- William Rogers as Tom Fisher
- Leopold Borkowski as Joel Markowsky
- Claude Gambier as Raoul Dubois
Awards and nominations
- Special Juvenile Academy Award "for the outstanding juvenile performance of 1948 in The Search" - Ivan Jandl
- Best Story - Richard Schweizer and David Wechsler
- Best Actor in a Leading Role - Montgomery Clift
- Best Director - Fred Zinnemann
- Best Writing, Screenplay - Richard Schweizer and David Wechsler
- BAFTA UN Award
- Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay - Richard Schweizer
- Golden Globe Special Award for Best Juvenile Actor - Ivan Jandl
- Golden Globe Award for Best Film Promoting International Understanding
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times praised it highly, calling it, "an absorbing and gratifying emotional drama of the highest sort". Crowther thought that Clift got "precisely the right combination of intensity and casualness into the role". Clint Eastwood singled out Clift's performance as the one that had the greatest influence on his own acting career.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to The Search.|
- The Search at the TCM Movie Database
- The Search at the Internet Movie Database
- The Search at AllMovie