Cast & Crew
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 breaks 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.
L. B. Abbott
M. Duke Abrahams
George W. Davis
W. D. Flick
Harry M. Leonard
Harry Maret Jr.
William C. Mellor
Edward B. Powell
Stuart A. Reiss
Tony Van Renterghen
Walter M. Scott
George Stevens Jr.
George Stevens Jr.
John Del Valle
Lyle R. Wheeler
Best Supporting Actress
Best Costume Design
Best Music, Original or Comedy Series
Best Supporting Actor
The Diary of Anne Frank
Stevens began the project by asking Shelley Winters to accompany him to the stage version in New York. The pair had worked magic in A Place in the Sun (1951), earning a Best Director Oscar® for him and a Best Actress nomination for her. For The Diary of Anne Frank (1959), Stevens asked Winters to play the role of Mrs. Van Daan, a character twenty years older than the actress who was thirty at the time. In the autobiography Shelley Winters: The Middle of My Century, she recalls: "Smiling through tears, I again said to him what I'd said when he'd asked me to test for A Place in the Sun: `Mr Stevens, if you give me that role, you can photograph me any way you want to.' He said, `Shelley, will you gain twenty-five pounds to play it?' `Fifty, if necessary,' I answered." Winters would in fact gain thirty pounds in preparation for the role, and lose twenty-five during production, a testament to Steven's insistence upon the utmost realism in portraying the desperate circumstances of that time.
With Winters cast, Stevens turned his attention to the role of Anne. Susan Strasberg, daughter of famed acting coach Lee Strasberg, had been playing the role on Broadway for over two years. Stevens, however, did not have her in mind for the film version: his sights were set on Audrey Hepburn. The notion of a twenty-eight year old woman playing a thirteen-year old girl did not dissuade him, but Hepburn turned down the role due to a scheduling conflict. It was widely rumored, however, that she rejected the part as too traumatic because of her own wartime experiences in the Netherlands. So a nation-wide casting call began and ended with the hiring of Millie Perkins, a seventeen-year old model from Passaic, New Jersey. Character actor Joseph Schildkraut was cast as Anne's father, Otto, a role he created in the stage version. (Schildkraut and Stevens would successfully collaborate again in The Greatest Story Ever Told a few years later, 1965.) Richard Beymer, best known as Tony from West Side Story (1961), won the role of Peter Van Daan, Winters' screen son.
Stevens had an extraordinary resource to bring to the table for The Diary of Anne Frank: during the war, he had served in a Special Services unit that photographed and filmed Nazi concentration camps. In order to inspire the appropriate levels of emotion during shooting, Stevens had a viewing of the camp footage for his cast. Furthermore, he insisted upon realistic environmental conditions; Winters recalls in her memoir, "George Stevens made the set so real that it was almost unbearable. He would turn the heat up in August if we had to swelter. He would turn the air conditioning on if we were doing a winter scene and we would all sneeze and freeze." Despite the mental and physical prompts, Stevens still had trouble securing the desired reactions from his actors at times. To counter these moments, Winters explained, "He had recorded a tape for each actor of the sounds and music that affected him most powerfully in various emotions. He would play the tape sometimes right through an actor's dialogue, and then edit the music out in the cutting room." Stevens used music to not only create powerful emotions, but also to dissipate them: after particularly stressful scenes, he would break the tension by blasting the pop novelty song "The Purple People Eater" on the set (it was a top forty hit at the time).
The production was located on Fox's largest soundstage to accommodate the film crew and equipment. In addition, the studio had a mandate in effect that all shoots were to be filmed using the recently patented CinemaScope system. While the process worked wonderfully for majestic landscape and epic scenery, it was decidedly not the best way to film a cramped attic space. Stevens sniffed, "It's fine if you want a system that shows a boa constrictor to better advantage to a man." After much consideration and a few days of stalled production, Stevens solved the problem by having vertical beams installed on the set, ostensibly to represent roof supports. The visual created was that of a more confined space, more appropriate to the annex proportions. Ever the perfectionist, Stevens was having trouble securing a camera angle that would travel three stories from the bottom floor up to the attic level. After encountering delays by studio heads to accommodate his request, Stevens took matters into his own hands and simply dynamited a hole in the stage. He had, after all, been schooled in blasting techniques during his army service. According to Winters, she "resolved then and there never to cross him."
Explosions aside, the rest of the shoot was comparatively calm. The heavy content of the material, however, did have a lasting impact on the cast, and a mid-shoot visit to the set by Otto Frank himself was particularly emotional for Winters. During a conversation together, the actress pledged that if she should win an Oscar for her work in the film, she would donate it to the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam. The 1959 Best Supporting Actress Academy Award is housed there today.
Producer/Director: George Stevens
Screenplay: Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett
Cinematography: William C. Mellor
Film Editing: David Bretherton, William Mace, Robert Swink
Art Direction: George W. Davis, Lyle R. Wheeler
Music: Alfred Newman
Cast: Millie Perkins (Anne Frank), Joseph Schildkraut (Otto Frank), Shelley Winters (Mrs. Petronella Van Daan), Richard Beymer (Peter Van Daan), Gusti Huber (Mrs. Edith Frank), Lou Jacobi (Mr. Hans Van Daan).
by Eleanor Quin
The Diary of Anne Frank
For the past two years we have lived in fear. Now we can live in hope.- Otto Frank
We don't need the Nazis to destroy us. We're destroying ourselves.- Otto Frank
You have never lost your temper / You never will, I fear / You are so good / But if you should / Put all your cross words here.- Margot
Margot, Margot, Margot. That's all I ever hear: how good Margot is.- Anne
Audrey Hepburn was first offered the role of Anne Frank. She refused it for two reasons: she had decided to accept the role in Green Mansions (1959) and, more importantly, she had lived in occupied Holland during the war and had seen the Nazis carry out street executions and watched as they herded Jews onto boxcars to carry them to concentration camps. She knew that making the film would bring back memories that were far too painful for her.
Stevens had trouble getting suitable emotion from the actors when the American plane passes by. So, a record player was hidden in the sound stage and was set to play "The Star Spangled Banner" to evoke an emotional reaction from the American actors.
All annex scenes were shot on the largest sound stage at 20th Century Fox in Hollywood. The real annex would have been too small to accommodate a film crew.
Shelley Winters had to gain 25 pounds for the role of Mrs. Van Daan. She then had to lose 15 of it as the movie progressed.
Shelley Winters donated the best supporting actress Academy Award she won for the role of Mrs. Van Daan to the Anne Frank museum in Amsterdam.
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, June 12, 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 July 6, 1942, taking refuge at a spice factory located at 263 Prinsengracht St. Until they were captured by the Nazis on August 4, 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 March 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 August 4, 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 June 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 New York Times 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 October 1955 Daily Variety 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 October 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item states that Fox was negotiating with William Wyler to direct. Stevens was signed to produce and direct in February 1957, according to a Hollywood Reporter 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 American Cinematographer 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 American Cinematographer. 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 December 1957 Hollywood Reporter 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 New York Times 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 December 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 March 18, 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 May 23, 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 November 29, 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 December 4, 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.
Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1959 National Board of Review.
Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1959 New York Times Film Critics.
Released in United States 1959
Released in United States 1959