AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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The Diary of Anne Frank
Director: George Stevens (Dir)
Release Date:   Mar 1959
Premiere Information:   New York premiere: 18 Mar 1959
Production Date:   5 Mar--11 Aug 1958; addl scenes 24 Nov 1958
Duration (in mins):   170
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Cast:   Millie Perkins (Anne Frank)  
    Joseph Schildkraut (Otto Frank)  
    Shelley Winters (Mrs. Petronela Van Daan)  
    Richard Beymer (Peter Van Daan)  
    Gusti Huber (Mrs. Edith Frank)  
    Lou Jacobi (Mr. Hans Van Daan)  
    Diane Baker (Margot Frank)  
    Douglas Spencer (Kraler)  
    Dody Heath (Miep Gies)  
    Ed Wynn (Dr. Albert Dussell)  
    William Kirschner (Workman in shop)  
    Charles Wagenheim (Sneak thief)  
    Frank Tweddell (Nightwatchman)  
    Delmar Erickson (SS man)  
    Robert Boon (SS man)  
    Arthur Berkeley (Dutch workman)  
    Bruce Walkup (Dutch workman)  
    John Corrydon (Dutch workman)  
    Gretchen Goertz (Dutch girl)  

Summary: As a truckload of war survivors stops in front of an Amsterdam factory at the end of World War II, Otto Frank, a lone, dejected figure gets out and walks inside. After climbing the stairs to a deserted garret, Otto finds a girl's discarded glove and sobs, then is joined and comforted by Miep Gies and Mr. Kraler, factory workers who shielded him from the Nazis. After tonelessly stating that he is now all alone, Otto begins to search for the diary written by his youngest daughter Anne. Miep promptly retrieves the journal for Otto, and he receives solace reading the words written by his thirteen-year-old daughter three years earlier: The date is July 1942, and Anne begins by chronicling the restrictions placed upon Jews that drove the Franks, Otto, his wife Edith and their daughters Margot and Anne, into hiding over the spice factory. Sharing the Franks' hiding place are Hans and Petronela Van Daan and their teenage son Peter. Kraler, who works in the office below, and Miep, his assistant, have arranged the hideaway and warn the families that they must maintain strict silence during daylight hours when the workers are there. On the first day, the minutes drag by in silence. After work, Kraler delivers food and a box for Anne compiled by her father, which contains her beloved photos of movie stars and a blank diary. In the first pages of the diary, Anne describes the strangeness of never being able to go outside or breathe fresh air. As the months pass, Anne's irrepressible energy reasserts itself and she constantly teases Peter, whose only attachment is to his cat, Moushie. Isolated from the world outside, Otto schools Anne and Margot as the sounds of sirens and bombers frequently fill the air. Mrs. Van Daan passes the time by recounting fond memories of her youth and stroking her one remaining possession, the fur coat given to her by her father. The strain of confinement causes the Van Daans to argue and pits the strong-willed Anne against her mother. One day, Kraler brings a radio to the attic, providing the families with ears onto the world. Soon after, Kraler asks them to take in another person, a Jewish dentist named Albert Dussell. When Van Daan complains that the addition will diminish their food supply, Dussell recounts the dire conditions outside, in which Jews suddenly disappear and are shipped to concentration camps. When Dussell confirms the disappearance of many of their friends, the families' hopes are dimmed. One night, Anne dreams of seeing one of her friends in a concentration camp and wakes up screaming. In October 1942, news comes of the Allied landing in Africa, but rather than producing relief, the bombing outside the factory intensifies, fraying the refugees' already ragged nerves. On Hanukkah, Margot longingly recalls past celebrations and Anne produces little presents for everyone. When Van Daan abruptly announces that Peter must get rid of Moushie because he consumes too much food, Anne protests. Their argument is cut short when they hear a prowler break in the front door and the room falls silent. Peter then sends an object crashing to the floor while trying to catch Moushie, and the startled thief grabs a typewriter and flees. A watchman notices the break-in and summons two Gestapo officers, who search the premises, shining their flashlights onto the bookcase that conceals the attic entrance. The families wait in terror until Moushie knocks a plate from the table and meows, reassuring the officers that the noise was caused by a common cat. After the officers leave, Otto, hoping to foster faith and courage, leads everyone in a Hanukkah song. In January 1944, Anne, on the threshold of womanhood, begins to attract Peter's attention. When Miep brings the group a cake, Dussell and Van Daan bicker over the size of their portions and then Van Daan asks Miep to sell his wife's fur coat so that he can buy cigarettes. After Kraler warns that one of his employees asked for a raise and implied that something strange is going on in the attic, Dussell dourly comments that it is just a matter of time before they are discovered. Anne, distraught, blames the adults for the war which has destroyed all sense of hope and ideals. When she storms out of the room, Peter follows and comforts her. Later, Anne confides her dreams of becoming a writer and Peter voices frustration about his inability to join the war effort. In April 1944, amid talk of liberation, the Franks watch helplessly as more Jews are marched through the streets. Tensions mount, and when Van Daan tries to steal some bread from the others, Edith denounces him and orders him to leave. As Dussell and Van Daan quarrel over food, word comes over the radio of the Normandy invasion and Van Daan breaks into tears of shame. Heartened by the news, everyone apologizes for their harsh words, and Anne dreams of being back in school by the fall. By July 1944, the invasion has bogged down and Kraler is hospitalized with ulcers. Upon hearing that the Gestapo has found the stolen typewriter, Anne writes that her diary provides her a way to go on living after her death. After the Van Daans begin to quarrel once more, Peter declares that he cannot tolerate the situation and Anne soothes him by reminding him of the goodness of those that have come to their aid. Their conversation is interrupted by the sirens of an approaching Gestapo truck. As Anne and Peter bravely stand arm in arm certain of their impending arrest, they passionately kiss. As the German soldiers break down the bookcase entrance to the hideout, Otto declares they no longer have to live in fear, but can go forward in hope. Back in the present, Otto tells Miep and Kraler that on his long journey home after his release from the concentration camp he learned how Edith, Margot and the others perished, but always held out hope that perhaps Anne had somehow survived. Otto sadly reveals that only the previous day in Rotterdam he met a woman who had been in Bergen-Belsen with Anne and confirmed her death. Otto then glances at Anne's diary and reads, "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart," and reflects upon his daughter's unshakeable optimism. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Production Text: A George Stevens Production
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: George Stevens (Dir)
  George Stevens, Jr. (Loc scenes dir)
  David Hall (Asst dir)
  Wesley McAfee (2d asst dir)
Producer: George Stevens (Prod)
  George Stevens, Jr. (Assoc prod)
Writer: Frances Goodrich (Scr)
  Albert Hackett (Scr)
Photography: William C. Mellor (Dir of photog)
  Jack Cardiff (Loc scenes photog)
  Sol Halprin (Head cam)
  Irving Rosenberg (Cam op)
  Gordon Meagher (Asst cam)
  William Jurginson (Asst cam)
  Gaston Longet (Stills)
  Jim Mitchell (Stills)
  Homer Plannette (Gaffer)
Art Direction: Lyle R. Wheeler (Art dir)
  George W. Davis (Art dir)
Film Editor: David Bretherton (Film ed)
  Robert Swink (Film ed)
  William Mace (Film ed)
  Pat Shade (Asst film ed)
  Larry Allen (Asst film ed)
  Hal Ashby (Asst film ed)
  George Leggewie (Asst film ed)
  Marion Rothman (Asst film ed)
  Harold Saylor (Asst film ed)
  Robert Kimball (Asst film ed)
Set Decoration: Walter M. Scott (Set dec)
  Stuart A. Reiss (Set dec)
  M. Duke Abrahams (Prop master)
  Jules Kahn (Props)
  George Westenhiser (Asst props)
Costumes: Charles LeMaire (Exec ward des)
  Mary Wills (Cost des)
  Josephine Brown (Women's ward)
  Reeder Boss (Men's ward)
  Clinton Sandeen (Men's ward dept)
Music: Alfred Newman (Mus)
  Edward B. Powell (Orch)
Sound: W. D. Flick (Sd)
  Harry M. Leonard (Sd)
  Paul Gilbert (Microphone boom op)
  William Buffinger (Sd rec)
Special Effects: L. B. Abbott (Spec photog eff)
Make Up: Ben Nye (Makeup)
  Helen Turpin (Hair styles)
  Allen Snyder (Makeup)
  Eddie Allen (Makeup)
  Harry Maret Jr. (Makeup)
  Ray Forman (Hairdresser)
  Ruby Felker (Hairdresser)
  Maurine McDermott (Women's body makeup)
Production Misc: Tony van Renterghen (Tech adv)
  F. Guiol (Tech adv)
  B. Aaronson (Tech adv)
  Sid Rogell (Exec prod mgr)
  Abe Steinberg (Asst prod mgr)
  Ben Kadish (Loc asst)
  Bob Gary (Scr supv)
  Fred Rezk (Grip)
  Sam Bischoff (Grip)
  Lloyd Phillips (Grip)
  John Murray (Grip)
  Les Berry (Grip)
  Frank Gilly (Grip and crane op)
  John del Valle (Unit pub)
  Carl Cabibi (Best boy)
  Owen McLean (Casting)
  George Light (Casting)
  Jim Buchanan (Casting)
  Harry Roberts (Boom)
  Hal Lombard (Boom)
  Otis Gunter (Cableman)
  Sam Fisher (Elec)
Stand In: Midge Pare (Stand-in for Millie Perkins)
  Ernest Brengke (Stand-in for Joseph Schildkraut)
  Rosemary O'Neill (Stand-in for Shelley Winters)
  George Boyce (Stand-in for Ed Wynn)
  Douglas Wall (Stand-in for Richard Beymer)
  Frances Mack (Stand-in for Gusti Huber and Diane Baker)
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text: Based on the play The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, as produced by Kermit Bloomgarden and directed by Garson Kanin (New York, 5 Oct 1955), which was based on the book Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (Amsterdam, 1947).
Authors: Anne Frank
  Kermit Bloomgarden
  Albert Hackett
  Frances Goodrich

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 18/3/1959 dd/mm/yyyy LP13653

PCA NO: 19008
Physical Properties: Sd: Westrex Recording System
  b&w:
  Widescreen/ratio: CinemaScope
  Lenses/Prints: lenses by Bausch & Lomb

 
Genre: Drama
  Drama
Sub-Genre: Historical
  World War II
 
Subjects (Major): Attics
  Diaries
  Anne Frank
  Gestapo
  Hideouts
  Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
  Jews
  Religious persecution
  World War II
 
Subjects (Minor): Adolescence
  Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
  Bombing, Aerial
  Cats
  Concentration camp survivors
  Dentists
  Family relationships
  Fear
  Hanukkah
  Hunger
  Radios
  Thieves

Note: The following written acknowledgment occurs midway through the opening credits: "The filming of scenes at the house where Anne Frank wrote her diary was made possible through the cooperation of the City of Amsterdam." As depicted in the film, Anne Frank was living in Amsterdam when, on her thirteenth birthday, 12 Jun 1942, she was given a diary. When the Franks learned that due to anti-Jewish decrees put into effect by the occupying Nazi army, their daughter Margot was to be sent away, they went into hiding on 6 Jul 1942, taking refuge at a spice factory located at 263 Prinsengracht St. Until they were captured by the Nazis on 4 Aug 1944, Anne, an aspiring journalist, wrote about her life in her "secret annex." As she completed each book, the Franks's friends would replenish it with fresh diaries. In Mar 1944, Anne heard over the radio that the Dutch government wanted people to save their wartime diaries for publication after the war and decided to rewrite her diary entries as a novel, giving pseudonyms to the seven other residents of the annex and to the people who helped them. When the Nazis raided the annex on 4 Aug 1944, the family left the diaries behind. After the Franks and their friends were captured, Miep Gies and the other secretaries in the factory collected the diaries and hid them. Anne's father Otto was the only member of his family to survive the camps. One month before liberation, Anne died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen.
       After the war, Miep gave Anne's diaries to Otto, who decided to publish them to honor his daughter's wish of becoming a writer. In Jun 1947, a Dutch firm published an expurgated version of her work, titled Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl , in which nearly thirty percent of the original work was omitted, either by Otto himself or the publishing house. After his death in 1980, Otto bequeathed the diaries to The Netherlands Institute for War Documentation (RIOD), which performed document dating and tested Anne's handwriting to assure their authenticity. In 1986, RIOD published a complete edition of the diaries under the title of The Diary of Anne Frank: the Critical Edition . This book included the parts omitted from the 1947 version as well as historical background and facts surrounding Anne's life. According to a 1963 NYT news item, Karl Silberbauer, the Nazi officer who arrested Anne Frank, was himself arrested and sentenced to prison for the mass murder of Dutch Jews during World War II.
       A play based on Anne's diary written by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett opened in New York and ran for 717 performances. According to an Oct 1955 DV news item, Garson Kanin, who directed the Broadway production of the play, and Milton Sperling of Warner Bros. also bid on the film rights to the diary, but were outbid by Buddy Adler from Twentieth-Century Fox. An Oct 1956 HR news item states that Fox was negotiating with William Wyler to direct. Stevens was signed to produce and direct in Feb 1957, according to a HR news item. Materials contained in the George Stevens Collection at the AMPAS Library reported that Stevens did not want to film The Diary of Anne Frank in CinemaScope, because he feared that the wide-screen process would undermine the feeling of claustrophobia he needed to create. When Spyros Skouras, the head of the studio, insisted that he use the wide-screen process, Stevens and cinematographer William Mellor decided to restrict space by confining action to the center of the screen. Mellor also devised a lighting system that utilized fluorescent tubes, filters and gauze to create a more natural room-like light rather than using high-intensity studio lighting, according to an AmCin article.
       An exact replica of the spice factory was built on the lot at Twentieth-Century Fox, with three of the four rooms constructed one on top of the other, precisely as they were at the factory, according to AmCin . Exteriors were filmed at Prinsengracht St. in Amsterdam and the surrounding neighborhood, according to studio publicity materials contained at the AMPAS Library. According to the Stevens Papers, a campaign was launched to find a "new face" for the part of "Anne." Talent scouts traveled to Amsterdam and drama schools in Israel, and stories of the search were printed throughout Europe. A Dec 1957 HR news item noted that 2,000 teenage girls were interviewed. Among those were Karin Wolfe, Oshra El Kayam, Janet Margolin and Tuesday Weld, according to the Stevens Papers.
       Although a 1959 NYT news item states that Audrey Hepburn was offered the part, her name does not appear in the Stevens Papers, and in fact, the only actress besides Millie Perkins that Stevens seriously considered was Marianne Sarstadt. In a cast and crew list contained in the papers, Nina Foch is listed as "Miep." Maureen Stapleton was considered for the role of "Mrs. Van Daan," and Richard Trask, Eric Berne and Joseph Yardin were discussed for the role of "Peter," according the Stevens papers. Joseph Schildkraut, Gusti Huber and Lou Jacobi reprised their stage roles for the film. The Diary of Anne Frank marked the screen debut of Millie Perkins.
       In Dec 1957, prior to the film's release, writer Meyer Levin sued playwrights Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett for $1,500,000, claiming that they had stolen his idea of turning the diary into a play and adapting it to the stage. The suit was thrown out of court. The film's premiere on 18 Mar 1959 was a benefit for the American Association for the United Nations, Inc.
       During the film's initial release, showings included opening and exit music, and an intermission, resulting in a nearly three-hour running time. According to modern sources, poor box office returns prompted Twentieth Century-Fox to trim about twenty minutes for the film. When the picture was broadcast later on television, it was shown in an abridged format that included a truncated ending that dissolved from the sounds of the German soldiers breaking into the hideout to seagulls flying in the sky. Over this footage, Perkins, as Anne is heard in voice-over reciting the famous line, "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart." In the late 1990s, the film's widescreen format and full length were restored so that on its DVD release, the original ending, in which Otto states his awe over Anne's unflagging optimism, closes the film.
       The Diary of Anne Frank won an Academy Award for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration and Best Cinematography, and Shelley Winters won for Best Supporting Actress. The film also was nominated for the following Academy Awards: Best Costume Design,Best Director, Best Picture, Best Music and Scoring and Ed Wynn was nominated as Best Supporting Actor.
       On 23 May 1962, NTS, a Dutch television network, broadcast a Dutch version of the play, directed by Willy Van Herner and starring Rob de Vries and Martine Crefcouer. Among the several American television versions was the 29 Nov 1967 ABC broadcast, directed by Alex Segal and starring Max Von Sydow, Lilli Palmer and Theodore Bikel, and a 1980 NBC movie, directed by Boris Sagal and starring Maxmillian Schell, Joan Plowright and Melissa Gilbert. On 4 Dec 1997, a new theatrical version of The Diary of Anne Frank , adapted by Wendy Kesselman, opened on Broadway. It was directed
by James Lapine and starred Natalie Portman.
 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
American Cinematographer   1 May 58   p. 265.
American Cinematographer   Jun 59   pp. 360-61, 373-76.
Box Office   23 Mar 1959.   
Box Office   6 Apr 1959.   
Daily Variety   12 Oct 1955.   
Daily Variety   18 Mar 59   p. 3.
Film Daily   18 Mar 59   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Dec 56   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Feb 57   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Dec 57   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Mar 58   p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Aug 58   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Mar 59   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   22 Mar 1959.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   28 Mar 59   p. 205.
New York Times   19 Mar 59   p. 40.
New York Times   21 Nov 1963.   
Variety   18 Mar 59   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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