Review: The Diary of Anne Frank (1959)

The Diary of Anne Frank


George Stevens
Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett (Based on their own play; Book: Anne Frank)
180 min.
Millie Perkins, Joseph Schildkraut, Shelley Winters, Richard Beymer, Gusti Huber, Lou Jacobi, Diane Baker, Douglas Spencer, Dody Heath, Ed Wynn
MPAA Rating

Buy on DVD



Source Material

Many U.S. school children are familiar with the harrowing saga of Anne Frank, the young girl who was forced to hide with her family and other Jews as the Nazis stormed through Amsterdam looking to put all they could into concentration camps. Her diary, celebrated around the world, details the terrifying and brave story and has been made into a small handful of films few of which could possibly hold a candle to George Stevens’ masterful adaptation of the book.

Although Ed Wynn and Shelley Winters, the latter having won the Oscar, were the sole acting nominees from the film, it’s really Joseph Schildkraut and Gusti Huber as Anne’s parents Otto and Edith that give the film’s best performances. Both play their roles perfectly creating emotional buoys for the rest of the cast to work off of. Not to discredit Winters who does a fine job, but name recognition was clearly a factor in the nominations for Wynn, a popular television comedian of the time with a handful of dramatic offerings, who does very little in the film but protest loudly and often about how they should all expect to be caught any day. There’s nothing touching, creative or nomination-worthy in his performance. But even with the terrific performances of Schildkraut and Huber, the film’s finest achievement is its use of sound. Stevens ably conveys isolation, terror and apprehension. It’s the kind of quality craftsmanship that should provide plenty of inspiration and guidance for future filmmakers interested in how to use audio to its fullest effect. Sometimes, silence is more important than music or dialogue.
Review Written
July 26, 2010

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