Steven Soderberg goes all Casablanca on us, with a black and white, forties-style film noir, The Good German. George Clooney plays Jake Geismar, a war correspondent in Potsdam, Germany, for the Post Armistice conference held by the victorious Allies. It starts as a murder mystery, when his venal, vicious snotrag of a driver is pulled out of a river, but it switches into something altogether more intriguing: the search for the sole witness to the war crimes of a Nazi Scientist. The Americans want the Scientist for their own rocket programme, but they can’t have him if he’s uncloaked as a bad German…..
So, though it falls far short of being a thriller, The Good German is nevertheless a solid yarn that’s not only well told and well acted, but is finely crafted with the tools of Forties’ Hollywood. It shot largely on sound stages in LA, but a lot of the footage is actual Russian archive that’s been spliced into the whole.