Synopsis by Mark Deming
Director Ernst Lubitsch gained international acclaim for his sophisticated romantic comedies, but he also had a talent for more serious themes, as evidenced by this 1932 drama. French musician Paul (Phillips Holmes) joined the Army at the height of WWI. On the field of battle, Paul shot and killed his German friend Walter Holderlin (Tom Douglas), another musician enlisted in his country's army. One year after the Armistice, Paul is still haunted by the memory of Walter's death, and he travels to Germany to locate Walter's father, Dr. Holderlin (Lionel Barrymore). Holderlin, his wife (Louise Carter), and Walter's fiancee, Elsa (Nancy Carroll are still shattered by the death of their loved one. Paul informs them of his friendship with their son, but cannot bring himself to unveil his responsibility for Walter's death. The Holderlins welcome Paul in friendship, and gradually, he settles into the household, bringing to both parents a new lease on life. Because of his lingering guilt, he feels tempted to run away, but Elsa discovers the truth about Paul and refuses to let him leave. Meanwhile, the presence of a Frenchman drums up hostilities in the Holderlins' village and the local women gossip continually about the developing relationship between Paul and Elsa. Perhaps because moviegoers completely snubbed The Man I Killed (also released as Broken Lullaby) and turned it into a financial detriment for Paramount, Lubitsch returned to lighter themes after this anti-war drama, and it was the last "serious" picture he would make before his death in 1948.
forgiveness, guilt, confession [admission], father, killing, friendship, war, French [nationality], German [nationality]