Lilli Marlene (film)

This article is about the 1950 British film. For the 1981 German film by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, see Lili Marleen (film). For the song, see Lili Marleen.
Lilli Marlene

US cinema poster
Directed by Arthur Crabtree
Produced by William J. Gell
Written by Leslie Wood
Screenplay by Leslie Wood
Starring Lisa Daniely
Hugh McDermott
Stanley Baker
Music by Stanley Black
Cinematography Jack Asher
Edited by Lister Laurance
William Gell Productions
Distributed by Monarch Film (UK)
RKO Radio Pictures (US)
Release dates
  • 8 December 1950 (1950-12-08) (UK)[1]
  • 25 July 1951 (1951-07-25) (US)[2]
Running time
85 minutes[3]
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Lilli Marlene is a 1950 British war film aimed for the US market and directed by Arthur Crabtree. It stars Lisa Daniely, Hugh McDermott, and Richard Murdoch. Stanley Baker is seen in one of his early support roles.


A French girl named Lilli Marlene, working in her uncle's café in Benghazi, Libya, turns out to be the girl that the popular German wartime song Lili Marleen had been written for before the war, so both the British and the Germans try to use her for propaganda purposes - especially as it turns out that she can sing as well. The Germans try to snatch her at one point, but don't succeed, and she performs several times for the British troops and also appears in radio broadcasts to the USA, arranged by Steve, an American war correspondent embedded with the British Eighth Army, who eventually becomes her boyfriend.

However, eventually she is kidnapped by the Germans in Cairo and taken to Berlin, where she is interrogated and repeatedly told that she had been tortured and brainwashed by the British to think that she was French, while she actually is German. Once the Germans think that she has been transformed into a loyal Nazi, they set her to make broadcasts in English for the Third Reich. Her old British friends, and especially Steve, are very disappointed in her.

After the war, she reappears in London during a big reunion for members of the Eighth Army. She manages to convince Steve and a few of her other Eighth Army friends that she never betrayed the British; however, British security agents arrest her. Steve and another old friend, Berry, take off with her in their broadcasting van, chased by the security people. They drive to an address in London that she had been given by the German colonel in charge of her broadcasts, in case she ever went to London and was in need of help. When they get there, she finds that the German colonel lives in it. It turns out that he is actually a British intelligence officer who was working undercover in Berlin during the war. He informs them and the security people that Lilli was never a traitor, and that in all her communications, there were encoded messages to the British intelligence services back in London.

Once they know the truth, Steve and Berry takes her back to the reunion, where everybody is told that Lilli never was a traitor. She sings the Lili Marleen song for all of them and afterwards she and Steve kiss.

Main cast

Follow-up film

Three years later, Arthur Crabtree made a follow-up film with the same actors playing Marlene and Steve: The Wedding of Lilli Marlene.


  1. "Marble Arch Pavilion: Lilli Marlene". The Times. 8 December 1950. p. 2.
  2. "RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. Trade Showings". Motion Picture Daily. 18 July 1951. p. 3. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
  3. BBFC: Lilli Marlene

External links

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