Clift was making his first movie, RED RIVER, when he was approached by Zinnemann to read the first draft of the script by Peter Viertel, and he liked it enough to commit to making THE SEARCH (which, as it turned out, was released before RED RIVER). When Swiss producer Wechsler hired his
son to help rewrite the screenplay, Clift became angered and began to substitute his own words for those in the script. Attorneys were called in to mediate, and, in the end, the younger Wechsler and co-author Schweizer won an Oscar for a screenplay that contained many of Clift's words.
THE SEARCH begins in a camp for children who have been orphaned or displaced by WWII. Among them is Jandl, a traumatized 9-year-old Czech who hasn't seen his mother since he was torn from her arms at the age of five. Frightened, Jandl escapes from a Red Cross ambulance; soon, he's living like a
frightened animal in the burnt-out houses of the city, foraging for food in trash cans. He is nearly starved when Clift, an American soldier, finds him and takes him home. Jandl is hostile, fearful, and makes attempts to leave, but Clift begins to convince the boy of his good intentions. Clift
attempts to trace Jandl's history with the help of his pal Corey, but it's a brick wall. Meanwhile, Jandl's mother, Novotna, continues her search for the boy.
A rather saccharine ending mars the believablity of the plot, and audiences might have liked it better if Novotna's character were not so wonderful and Jandl had gotten a new lease on life by going to the US with Clift. Zinnemann and Clift received Oscar nominations and Jandl won a special
juvenile Oscar for his haunting portrayal of the tragic child. Jandl was discovered singing with a youth choir in Prague, and, after this picture, it was just assumed that he would stay in films, but his parents refused, and he disappeared from sight. Zinnemann had been with MGM, but they dropped
his contract while he was shooting this film, so he signed with RKO. However, after the picture was released, Zinnemann's star again rose, so they re-signed him for a great deal more money. THE SEARCH was shot entirely in the American Occupied Zone of Germany, the first movie to be made there
after the war. With THE SEARCH and RED RIVER released the same year, Clift became a huge star and was given a Life magazine cover. Only 27, he received $75,000 for this film. He brought along his friend and mentor, Mira Rostova, who stood behind the camera and gave her approval on each scene.
Zinnemann objected to this, so she stayed away but spent almost every night before shooting going over each nuance of the next day's pages. Only four professional actors appeared in the movie: Clift, who was under contract to Howard Hawks; Corey, on loan from Hal Wallis; Novotna, an opera star at
the Met; and MacMahon. The others were locals, and their unfamiliar presence lent an air of credibility to the project. This superior movie made the world aware of the plight of these children and money poured in to the UNRRA to help their plight.
Cast & Details See all »
- Rating: NR
- Review: Clift was making his first movie, RED RIVER, when he was approached by Zinnemann to read the first draft of the script by Peter Viertel, and he liked it enough to commit to making THE SEARCH (which, as it turned out, was released before RED RIVER). When Sw… (more)