This moving rendition of Fred Uhlman's novel, about boyhood friendship betrayed under the destructive momentum of Nazism, shows Schatzberg at his (albeit limited) best. Jewish New York lawyer Henry Strauss (Robards) revisits Stuttgart to claim the remaining effects of the family he left in 1933. Cue a flashback to the body of the film: his time at the elite Gymnasium and his deep but never easy friendship with a fellow outsider, the aristocratic Konradin. The film is dominated by remembrance: the tricks it plays, the pain it involves. Schatzberg encourages his young actors - Anholt as the adolescent 'Hans', West as Konradin - to personalise, and thus to universalise - their relationship. It's a staple situation, but their sharing (Konradin proudly showing a coin collection in his grand house on the hill; Hans introducing his politically naive parents; the soon-to-be-shattered idyll of trips to the Black Forest) speaks volumes of cumulative small truths. Harold Pinter's tight and unobtrusive script, Trauner's fine production design and Philippe Sarde's muted but expressive score ensure a feeling of all-round professionalism.
Cast and crew
Jason Robards Maureen Kerwin Françoise Fabian Barbara Jefford Samuel West Christian Anholt