The movie begins with a trainload of displaced children arriving at a relief center, where they will be temporarily housed while a search is made for their relatives. Though the intent of the center is to help, many of the children, having previously been herded onto trains and shipped off to concentration camps, are understandably terrified and untrusting. One little boy in particular, Karel Malek, is so frightened that he actually finds a way to run away, escaping on his own into war-torn Germany.
Ralph "Steve" Stevenson (Monty Clift), an American soldier still stationed in Germany, happens upon the hungry and frightened little boy.
Feeling that the boy shouldn't be wandering around on his own, Steve feeds him and then takes him back to his apartment, with the intent to locate his parents.
Though fearful and untrusting at first, Karel comes to realize that Steve is his friend and wants to help him.
Meanwhile, in another part of the city, Hannah Malek is combing the relief centers in search of the son from whom she was separated at Auschwitz, hoping against hope that he still lives.
The Search is a very sweet, mildly heart-tugging film which always gets me misty-eyed. Montgomery Clift is extremely good in this Oscar-nominated role, and his chemistry with the little boy (Ivan Jandl) is terrific. Wanting to be completely prepared for his role, before shooting began, Mr. Clift lived for a time in an army engineer's unit, dressed in army fatigues, and toured U. N. Relief and Rehabilitation camps in Germany. He was totally driven to make his character and the film authentic, which resulted in numerous improvisations of the script and endless battles with the film's producer. In the end, though, the film received unanimous acclaim and Monty, who was pleased with his performance, became one of Hollywood's hottest stars.
A solid 4-star film, The Search is definitely worth watching. The only thing I thought was a bit off was how quickly the language barrier was overcome. I don't know, though, maybe teaching a child another language is much quicker than teaching an adult. Maybe it isn't all that strange that Karel was speaking English in full sentences as quickly as he was. Even if it's off, though, that fact didn't spoil this movie for me. I like it very much and definitely recommend it.
For those that have TCM, set your DVR this Saturday, as The Search will be shown as part of Montgomery Clift's day on Summer Under the Stars. Happy viewing!!!