Arms and the Man (1958): Franz Peter Wirth’s Oscar Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film from East Germany

In the third year of the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar as a competitive category, the five nominees were: “Mon Oncle” (“My Uncle”) from France, which won, “Arms and the Man” from the Federal Republic of Germany, “”The Road a Year Long” from Yugoslavia, “The Usual Unidentified Thieves” (aka “Big Deal on Madonna Street”) from Italy, and “La Venganza” from Spain.

Arms and the Man
Arms and the Man (film).jpg

Based on George Bernard Shaw’s famous 1894 play, Arms and the Man, director Franz Peter Wirth’s screen version, tries to open up the stage work, an effort that only partially succeeds. 


Set mostly indoors, the dialogue-driven serio-comedy depicts the escape of one mercenary soldier.


Swiss captain Bluntschli fights as mercenary in the war between Bulgaria and Serbia. When his group is attacked by Bulgarian troopers, he learns that he’s got the wrong ammunition for his cannon and has to flee.

However, his flight leads him right into the bedroom of his enemy’s fiancée.

Arms and the Man played at the 1959 Cannes Film Festival.

The other Oscar contenders in 1958 were: Vengeance from Spain; The Road a Year Long from Yugoslavia; and Big Deal on Madonna Street (aka The Usual Unidentified Thieves).


O. W. Fischer as Hauptmann Bluntschli
Liselotte Pulver as Raina Petkoff
Ellen Schwiers as Louka
Jan Hendriks as Leutnant Sergius Slivitzna
Ljuba Welitsch as Katharina
Kurt Kasznar as Petkoff
Manfred Inger as Nicola


Directed by Franz Peter Wirth
Written by George Bernard Shaw (play), Eberhard Keindorff, Johanna Sibelius
Produced by Peter Goldbaum, Harry R. Sokal
Cinematography Klaus von Rautenfeld
Edited by Claus von Boro
Music by Franz Grothe
Production company: Bavaria Film
Distributed by Bavaria Film
Release date: November 30, 1958
Running time 100 minutes