Town Without Pity

A courtroom drama with intense underlying social messages spread throughout, TOWN WITHOUT PITY bites off more than it can chew as it simultaneously attempts to preach against capital punishment, uncover the prejudices in a small Teutonic town, and jab at the boorish louts who occupied Germany after the war. The small burg of Neustadt is the setting. A quartet...read more

Rating:

A courtroom drama with intense underlying social messages spread throughout, TOWN WITHOUT PITY bites off more than it can chew as it simultaneously attempts to preach against capital punishment, uncover the prejudices in a small Teutonic town, and jab at the boorish louts who occupied

Germany after the war. The small burg of Neustadt is the setting. A quartet of American soldiers, Sutton, Blake, Sondock, and Jaeckel, are spending a drunken afternoon in the woods outside the city. Meanwhile, teenage Kaufmann is wearing a brief bikini and having a brief date with her boy friend,

young Lippert. She'd like to make love to him but he is inexperienced and tentative. She chides him for his immaturity and Lippert leaves. The four soldiers arrive and, in their stupor, move in on the curvaceous Kaufmann. Later, her father, Nielsen, contacts the town's burgermeister, Schurenberg,

and the two men make a formal complaint against the soldiers for rape. Nielsen wants the four soldiers to get the death penalty and is told that the only way that could happen is if Kaufmann takes the witness stand and personally identifies the rapists. Blake, Jaeckel, Sutton, and Sondock are

apprehended and a trial is prepared. To handle their defense, Douglas, a major who is an attorney, is brought in. He travels around Neustadt to gather evidence for the case and is not welcomed. While perambulating, he is approached by Rutting, a reporter. She is looking for a sensational angle for

a story and is impressed by Douglas' apparent desire to see justice done. Douglas visits Kaufmann's parents, Nielsen and Hardt, and explains that he will be forced to question Kaufmann and that this might be psychologically harmful to the girl. Nielsen is irate and insists that the trial go on.

Douglas talks to whatever neighbors he can and discovers that Kaufmann is hardly the naive young thing she seems to be. Matter of fact, she is a nymphette who is given to undressing in front of open windows in order to titillate passersby. At the trial, Douglas cross-examines some of the prissy

villagers and extracts information about Kaufmann's provocative ways. Lippert's mother, van Hoogstraten, tells the court that she never approved of Kaufmann because the young girl was far too seductive toward her son. Kaufmann is called to be a witness and Douglas' questions are pointed, cruel,

and destructive to the case of Marshall, the prosecutor. Douglas elicits information to the effect that Kaufmann had been naked in the woods in an attempt to arouse Lippert and was in that bare state when the soldiers arrived. Kaufmann falls apart on the stand and cannot finish her testimony. The

soldiers are given terms in prison rather than the death penalty. Afterward, Douglas is preparing to leave the town when he learns that Kaufmann, who has been chastised by the bluenoses of the town, has killed herself. Douglas exits the small village after being shunned by friends and foes alike.

There doesn't seem to be much point to the story, an incident that could have been covered in a one-hour TV drama. Gene Pitney recorded the title song (which became a hit) and it was used so many times in the picture that the tune eventually began to rankle the ears. It received an Oscar

nomination for its composers, Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington, but lost that year to "Moon River." Shot in the south of France and in the German villages of Bamberg and Forcheim, it was released in Germany as STADT OHNE MITLEID, in Switzerland as VILLE SANS PITIE, and was also known, in some

areas, as SHOCKER, which it wasn't.