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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David Seltzer|
|Screenplay by||David Seltzer|
|Based on||Shining Through
by Susan Isaacs
|Music by||Michael Kamen|
|Cinematography||Jan de Bont|
|Edited by||Craig McKay|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$43.8 million|
Shining Through is an American World War II drama film which was released to United States cinemas on January 31, 1992, written and directed by David Seltzer and starring Michael Douglas and Melanie Griffith, with Liam Neeson, Joely Richardson and John Gielgud in supporting roles. It is based on the novel of the same name by Susan Isaacs. The original music score was composed by Michael Kamen. The film's tagline is: "He needed to trust her with his secret. She had to trust him with her life."
In 1940, Linda Voss (Melanie Griffith), a young woman of Irish/German Jewish parentage, applies for a job as a secretary with a New York City law firm, but is rejected as she didn't graduate from a prestigious women's college.
Because she can speak German fluently, she becomes translator to Ed Leland (Michael Douglas), a humourless attorney. After America officially joins forces with the Allies, he emerges as a colonel in the OSS. She accompanies him to confidential meetings in New York and Washington D.C., and they become lovers. When he is suddenly posted away, she is left alone and devastated. Assigned to work in the War Department, Linda hears nothing of Ed until one evening in a restaurant-bar he reappears with an attractive female officer. Reluctant to resume their affair, he does re-employ her.
He and his colleagues abruptly need to replace a murdered agent in Berlin at very short notice. Despite knowing little about intelligence work, Linda volunteers and Ed is persuaded by her fluent German and passion to contribute to the war effort. Her mission is to bring back data on the V-1 flying bomb. They travel to Switzerland, where he hands her over to master spy Konrad Friedrichs (John Gielgud), who introduces her to his niece, Margrete von Eberstein (Joely Richardson), a socialite also working as an Allied agent.
Linda is planted as a cook in the household of a social-climbing Nazi, but her first dinner is a disaster and she is sacked. She is then taken on as a nanny to the children of Nazi officer Franz-Otto Dietrich (Liam Neeson). While searching for Dietrich's confidential papers - intending to photograph them - she locates her cousins through her contact and reveals their location to Margrete.
With the children in her care, she tracks down her relatives' hiding place but they have been captured. Air raid sirens blare, and residents run through the streets as buildings are blown apart by bombs.
The attack causes the frightened children to reveal the existence of a hidden room, which Linda finds and secretly photographs Dietrich's top-secret papers. When Dietrich invites her to the opera, her cover is blown by Margrete's mother, who believes her to be a friend of her daughter's from college. She flees from the Dietrich home and seeks sanctuary with Margrete, only to find that she is a double agent who betrayed Linda's cousins. Margrete shoots her, wounding her, but she overpowers Margrete and kills her. She slips down the laundry chute, escaping the German officers raiding Margrete's apartment.
Badly wounded, Linda is found by Ed, who has come to Berlin in the guise of a high-ranking German officer. Pretending to be mute as a wounded war veteran, as he does not speak German, he takes her to the railway station, and they travel to the Swiss border with the German Reich. She is barely alive, and his travel papers have not been officially stamped and signed as revealed by the German border guard. Ed's bluff as a mute wounded officer fails to sway the border guards, forcing him to shoot his way out. Carrying Linda, he struggles towards the border. The German sniper guarding it wounds him twice, but he gets himself and Linda across before collapsing.
The film closes with a continuation of the interview of an elderly Linda. It is revealed that while she and Ed recovered from their injuries in a Swiss hospital, the microfilm of the secret German documents has been retrieved from a hiding place inside her glove. She waves to him and their two sons. He joins her on camera as the film ends.
The production had intended to shoot in Budapest, but the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 made it possible to shoot the film on location in East Germany. The majority of the film was shot in Berlin and Potsdam starting in October 1990, just as Germany was being reunified. Studio work was done at the DEFA Studios, the state film studios of East Germany.
Because all of Berlin's great train stations were destroyed in World War II, the production traveled some distance to Leipzig to shoot scenes in the Leipzig Hauptbahnhof terminus, built in 1915 and the largest in Europe. This was before its massive modernization by the Deutsche Bahn.
The New York City and Washington scenes at the beginning of the film were shot in and around London and at nearby Pinewood Studios. Locations included the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, Hammersmith, and St Pancras Station, which doubled for Zurich Station for a brief sequence set in Switzerland.
The film was neither a commercial nor a critical success. The Razzie Awards declared Shining Through the Worst Picture of 1992, with Melanie Griffith being voted Worst Actress (also for her performance in A Stranger Among Us) and David Seltzer for Worst Director. It also received nominations for Michael Douglas as Worst Actor (also for Basic Instinct) and for Seltzer in the category of Worst Screenplay. The film holds a 36% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Roger Ebert wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, "I know it's only a movie, and so perhaps I should be willing to suspend my disbelief, but Shining Through is such an insult to the intelligence that I wasn't able to do that. Here is a film in which scene after scene is so implausible that the movie kept pushing me outside and making me ask how the key scenes could possibly be taken seriously."
Janet Maslin wrote in the New York Times that the first three-quarters of Susan Isaacs' book "never made it to the screen," including Linda Voss's love affair and marriage to her New York law firm boss, John Berringer. "David Seltzer's film version of Shining Through manages to lose also the humor of Susan Isaacs' savvy novel. Even stranger than that is the film's insistence on jettisoning the most enjoyable parts of the story."
- "SHINING THROUGH (15)". British Board of Film Classification. February 12, 1992. Retrieved July 24, 2015.
- "Shining Through". Box Office Mojo. 31 January 1992. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
- Razzie Awards - Archive
- Chicago Sun-Times January 31, 1992
- New York Times, February 28, 1992
- Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.
- Shining Through on IMDb
- Shining Through at the TCM Movie Database
- Shining Through at Box Office Mojo
- Shining Through at Rotten Tomatoes
|Razzie Award for Worst Picture
13th Golden Raspberry Awards