Search (1948): Starring Montgomery Clift

MGM (Praesens Films)

Montgomery Clift made a striking screen debut in “The Search” as a sympathetic American G.I. in the U.S.-occupied zone of Germany, who rescues a young Czech war derelict (Ivan Jandl).

The film was shot in a Zurich studio as well U.N.R.R.A. camps in the U.S.-occupied zone of Germany, thus capturing the terrors of refugees in right after WWII. By shooting the picture in bombed-out German cities, director Fred Zinnemann achieved an authentic, sincere, semi-documentary look.

The quasi-documentary style was reinforced by mixing professional actors with nonprofessionals. Zinnemann always delighted in the fact that many reviewers and moviegoers assumed that Montgomery Clift, who didn’t look as a star, had been a real G.I. without any previous acting experience.


Ralph Stevenson (Montgmery Clift)

Mrs. Murray (Alice MacMahon)

Mrs. Malik (Jarmila Novotna)

Jerry Fisher (Wendel Corey)

Karel Malik (Ivan Jandl)

Mrs. Fisher (Mary Patton)

Mr. Crookes (Ewart G. Morrison)

Tom Fisher (William Rogers)

Joel Makowsky (Leopold Borkowski)

Raoul Dubois (Claude Gambier)

The film received good reviews by the major critics, such as Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, who wrote: No film today is better-acted or more humanly illuminated than “The Search, noting that with this film, Zinnemann had found the first outlet for his creative craftsmanship.

Zinnemann has been working in Hollywood since 1930, but many people assumed that “The Search” was his first film since it was the first time that he got major recognition. Indeed, “The Search” established Zinnemann’s reputation as an A-list Hollywood director.

The Search won Zinnemann the first award of the Screen Directors Guild as the Best director of the year. In 1950, it received the British Film Academy Award as the best film embodying the principles of the United Nations Charter.

Oscar Nominations: 4

Motion Picture Story: Richard Schweizer and David Wechsler
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Screenplay: Richard Schweizer and David Wechsler
Actor: Montgomery Clift

Oscar Awards: 2

Motion Picture Story
Special Award: Ivan Jandl, outstanding juvenile performance

Oscar Context

In 1948, Oscar voters split between Best Picture (Laurence Olivier’s “Hamlet”) and Best Director (John Huston for “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre”).