The Good German


by Tuna

A war correspondent (George Clooney) returns to Germany, supposedly to continue the job he had before the war, but actually to find and get back together with his pre-war lover (Cate Blanchett). He is met at the airport by an enlisted man (Tobey Maguire) who has taken advantage of his motor pool job, with easy access among all zones in Berlin, to build a sizeable black market and prostitution business. Oh - and his girlfriend just happens to be Cate Blanchett!

The first act is from Maguire's point of view, the second act from Clooney's, and the last from Blanchett's. A great deal of intrigue revolves around Cate's husband, and what she did during the war. The Russians and Americans are both very interested in her and her purportedly dead husband.

The Good German (2006) was an attempt by Steven Soderbergh (producer/director) to make a classic 1940s noir. He used nothing but 1940s vintage cameras and old film stock, and set it in post-Hitler Germany, shortly before the Potsdam Conference. There was no problem with Soderbergh's attempt to make a film in an old style. As a technical achievement, The Good German is wildly successful, and captures the exact look and feel Soderbergh was after. Additionally, he got vintage performances from most of his cast.

What he didn't do was create a good movie.

Like the films from the 40's, the visual style put emphasis on the story but, unfortunately, the story just didn't hold up well. The structure of the film required revealing the mystery a little at a time, which meant that we couldn't know too much about the main characters until it was time for the key plot twists, and hence never had anyone to identify with.

For me, this was an interesting experiment, and proved that classic noir can still be made today. I would like to see more done in this vein, but starting with a more suitable story.


Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Despite the A-list stars and director, it is a film aimed at a small film-school audience.


* widescreen anamorphic

* 1.66:1

* B&W






It was nominated for an Oscar for original music.

2.5 James Berardinelli (of 4 stars)
41 British Consensus  (of 100)
31 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
49 (of 100)


6.2 IMDB summary (of 10)


Box Office Mojo. It grossed just a bit more than a million dollars, having never been in more than 66 theaters at a time.


  • Robin Weigert, as Blanchett's friend and coworker, shows breasts as a stripper, and then partial buns in a scene where she's trying to seduce Clooney.