skip navigation


TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here

Remind Me

TCMDb Archive MaterialsView all archives (0)


powered by AFI

When naive American Helen Banning arrives in Munich, Germany, hoping to have an adventure and see the world, she meets Prue Stubbins, her excitable new boss at the American cultural agency called Amerika Haus. Soon afterward, Helen is courted by American doctor Morley Dwyer, a friend of her family's, and although she begins to date Morley, she warns him that she is not in Germany to find romance. As part of her first assignment, to help facilitate an orchestral concert sponsored by Amerika Haus, Helen accompanies Prue to the rehearsal, where they are asked to leave by the temperamental conductor, Tonio "Tony" Fischer. When Tony then receives a message and rushes out, Prue insists that Helen follow him to ensure that he will perform at the concert. Helen visits his home, the estate of Countess Irena Reinhart, where Tony is behind closed doors, playing the piano for his wife Reni. Tony comes to the door and brusquely informs Helen that the concert will go on as scheduled. After she leaves, a noted psychiatrist informs Tony that Reni cannot be cured, and urges him not to blame himself but to go on living without her. At the hugely successful concert that night, Prue instructs Helen to watch from the wings, where she tries to avoid Tony. He seeks her out, however, to apologize for his previous behavior, and after he offers to drive her home, she finds herself drawn to his sophistication and good looks. The next day, Helen attends a party at the Nymphenburg Palace, where Tony spots her and insists that she accompany him on a day trip to Salzburg, Austria. Impressed by her simplicity and optimism, Tony is delighted with Helen, and takes her on a whirlwind tour of the beautiful city. A few weeks later, Helen is dating both Morley and Tony, prompting her American friend, Gertrude Kirk to warn her to be careful of European men. Ignoring the advice, Helen cancels a date with Morley to attend Tony's concert, but once there, she hears that he is leaving for Stockholm soon, and later tearfully asks him why he wants to spend time with such an ordinary girl. His reply, that she is important to him and he is leaving for only two weeks, cheers her. Before he leaves town, he takes her on a picnic, but a summer storm forces them to take shelter in his nearby summer house. Although she nervously avoids his advances, when he pulls her into his arms, she responds passionately. Hours later, Tony starts to tell Helen that he is married, but stops himself, afraid that she will cut off their affair. When she insists on returning to his house with him, he acquiesces, and there she sees Reni for the first time. Reni dreamily recounts dancing with her husband, but suddenly grows suspicious of Helen and bolts out the door. Helen, furious, turns to leave, but Tony begs her to stay until Reni is calmed, and Irena explains to Helen that Reni has been mentally ill for years and is completely dependent on Tony. Weeks later, Morley visits a depressed Helen, who has not left her house since learning about Reni. He invites her to a dance, and on the walk home, proposes to her. She replies that she is not the virtuous girl he thinks she is, but Morley has guessed about her affair, and tells her that she is fine and decent and does not belong in Europe. Visiting him at the hospital the next day, she is impressed to see how respected and competent he appears, but as they leave together, she sees Tony in the hallway and he explains that Reni has had a breakdown. Helen is stirred by seeing him again and visits his rehearsal, where he tries to turn her away, but finally falls into her arms. Morley is waiting for her when she returns home, and reveals that he is leaving the next day, but that it is not too late for her to go with him. Helen is resolute that she must stay to help Tony, earning even more of Morley's admiration. That night, Helen is watching Tony's concert from the wings when she is pulled into the cloakroom by Reni, who has snuck out of the house. First enraged, then in tears, the ill woman begs Helen not to take Tony away from her. Helen escorts her home, where Irena urges Helen to forget about Reni, who is only a shell of who she used to be, and to give Tony the love he needs. Helen calls Morley, however, and then, finding Reni gone from her room, chases after her across the lawn towards the lake. Reni plunges into the water, hoping to die, but Helen rescues her. After Reni is sedated, Helen confesses to Tony that for a moment she fantasized about Reni's death, and that she cannot live that way. She insists that what he loves in her is only what he has lost in Reni, and finally he agrees that they cannot be together. Helen says a tearful goodbye and then escapes to Morley's waiting car, asking him to take her home to America.