Before Winter Comes
|Before Winter Comes|
|Directed by||J. Lee Thompson|
|Produced by||Robert Emmett Ginna|
|Written by||Andrew Sinclair|
|Based on||story The Interpreter by Frederick L. Keefe|
|Music by||Ron Grainer|
|Edited by||Willy Kemplen|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|January 1969 (London)|
24 March 1969 (New York)
Before Winter Comes takes place in the immediate aftermath of World War II. British Major Giles Burnside (David Niven) is assigned to an refugee camp in occupied Austria; his mission is to send the groups of displaced civilians to either the Russian zone or the American zone. Burnside is a by-the-book officer but he runs into trouble with the translation of the many different languages. However, one of the refugees, Janovic (Topol), can speak many languages and is willing to help. Janovic quickly conveys Burnside's orders and helps the camp run smoothly. Janovic runs into romance with a lovely innkeeper, Maria (Anna Karina), until he discovers her affair with Burnside. Meanwhile, Janovic is found to be a Red Army deserter, who should be returned to the Soviet authorities to be executed. Burnside offers to help him escape, but Janovic cannot decide whether to trust him.
- David Niven as Major Burnside
- Topol as Janovic
- Anna Karina as Maria
- John Hurt as Lieutenant Pilkington
- Anthony Quayle as Brigadier Bewley
- Ori Levy as Captain Kamenev
- John Collin as Sergeant Woody
- Karel Stepanek as Count Kerassy
- Guy Deghy as Kovacs
- Mark Malicz as Komenski
- Gertan Klauber as Russian major
- Hana Maria Pravda as Beata
- George Innes as Bill
- Tony Selby as Ted
- Hugh Futcher as Joe
- Chris Sandford as Johnny
- Colin Spaull as Alf
- Larry Dann as Al
- Jeffry Wickham as Captain Roots
- Alysoun Austin as A.T.S. driver
- John Savident as British corporal
The film was based on a short story The Interpreter which had appeared in The New Yorker. Screenwriter Andrew Sinclair says David Niven insisted on a title change as he did not play the interpreter.
Niven's fee was $250,000. It was an early screen role for Topol, who had become famous playing Fiddler on the Roof on stage in London. J. Lee Thompson called Topol "the Frank Sinatra of Israel, rugged, handsome, a Clark Gable type or a European version of Burt Lancaster."
Filming took place south of Salzburg. John Hurt recalled "Niven was very helpful" during the shoot "because Chaim was being difficult and tricksy."
The film opened at the Sutton Theatre in New York City on 24 March 1969 and grossed $17,846 in its first week.
- "More Than Sex and Easter Stir". Variety. 2 April 1969. p. 11.
- Anyone can make an explosion Malcolm, Derek. The Guardian (1959-2003); London (UK) [London (UK)]03 Feb 1969: 8.
- Morley, Sheridan (1985). The Other Side of the Moon. Harper & Row. p. 246.
- 'Chairman' Shot in Crossfire Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times 6 Feb 1969: h13.
- Anyone can make an explosion Malcolm, Derek. The Guardian 3 Feb 1969: 8.
- Multi-Million $$$ Look to 'Zabriskie' Haber, Joyce. Los Angeles Times 3 Apr 1969: f12.
- Topol, the New Screen Lover Date: Friday, Feb. 7, 1969 page 10 Publication: Daily Mail
- Lord, Graham (2004). Niv : the authorized biography of David Niven. T. Dunne Books. p. 245.