The Search (1948)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Search Videos

The Search Photos

Movie Info

Although Montgomery Clift shot this film following Red River (1948), it was released six months earlier and the combined success of both immediately made him a star. The film, which was the first to be made in Europe after WWII with an American director and cast, was partially based on Europe's Children, a book of photographs by Therese Bonney documenting the orphans of the war. Shot in the American occupied zone of Germany, much of the film, the product of years of research, was based on actual incidents. It opens at the UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration camp at which war orphans, who have been found wandering through bombed-out ruins, are given temporary housing. The severely traumatized children, many of whom are survivors of concentration camps whose parents are dead, find normal communication almost impossible. Karel Malik (Ivan Jandl), a young Czech boy, is one of these. His mother, Hanna (Jarmilia Novotna), lost contact with him when they were in Auschwitz and she now travels from one refugee camp to another in search of her son. While being transported in an ambulance, some of the children, including Karel, break out and scatter. American G.I. Ralph Stevenson Clift finds him wandering aimlessly, takes him back to his base to feed him, and begins to teach him English. ~ Michael Costello, Rovi
Art House & International , Classics , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

Watch it now


Jarmila Novotna
as Mrs. Malik
Montgomery Clift
as Ralph Stevenson
Ivan Jandi
as Karel Malik
Aline MacMahon
as Mrs. Murray
Wendell Corey
as Jerry Fisher
Mary Patton
as Mrs. Fisher
Edward G. Robinson
as Mr. Crookes
William Rogers
as Tom Fisher
Claude Gambler
as Raoul Dubois
Leopold Markowski
as Joel Makowsky
Claude Gambier
as Raoul Dubois
Ewart G. Morrison
as Mr. Crookes
Leopold Borkowski
as Joel Makowsky
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Search

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (2)

Although there's a slight suspicion that (as in Rossellini's work from this period) the plight of children is being used as a sort of emotional shorthand, the integrity and moving effect of this piece is never really in doubt.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The Search, in our estimation, is a major revelation in our times.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

A moving wartime drama about orphaned children that's directed in a simple semi-documentary style.

Full Review… | May 13, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Zinnemann and Clift received Oscar nominations and Jandl won a special juvenile Oscar for his haunting portrayal of the tragic child.

Full Review… | November 1, 2007
TV Guide

Both a well-modulated immersion in the experience of stunned and stranded children and a time-capsule of the scarred land and crumbled cityscapes of Germany after the war.

Full Review… | October 17, 2007
Nick's Flick Picks

Featuring the striking debut of Montgomery Clift, The Search, a quasi-documentary story of a sympathetic American soldier who rescues a Czech boy-refugee in post WWII Germany, also established Fred Zinnemann's reputation as a an A director.

Full Review… | April 11, 2007

Audience Reviews for The Search


It holds a strong impact due to its devastating subject matter, with also a beautiful score and Montgomery Clift in a wonderful Oscar-nominated performance, but it starts to become more like a melodrama after its excellent first hour and the dialogue more and more artificial.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


★★★★ (out of four) A wonderfully heartfelt film directed by Fred Zinnemann. It takes place just after World War II when it was shot. Many of the scenes were actually shot amongst the ruble of several German cities and features several of the children of the area. Montgomery Clift strikes gold with his first film released. A young boy names Karel (Ivan Jandl) has lost his family and has been living in a concentration camp. He is scared and alone like all the other children. He meets an American army engineer (Clift) who takes a liking to the boy, teaching him english and caring for him. It is a great film, possibly Zinnemann's best and Clift deserves his first Oscar nomination. [IMG][/IMG]

Steve Smith
Steve Smith

It never occurred to me what really happens after a war. The Search does a great job at depicting the aftermath of the children. All their parents are dead, their homes are destroyed so what will become of them? They are gathered by American forces and then try to restart their lives. Anyways, the main story is about this little boy and the quest of his mother to find him. It's kind of predictable but in a good way. Predictability is not bad at all and it's necessary in the natural course of events. Anyways, I am not going to explain the whole plot but one thing is certain. Hollywood would have literally butchered the ending. I cannot imagine how horrible this movie would have ended in this generation. Consequently, this film is a jewel.

Stefanos Tran
Stefanos Tran

The Search Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Search on our Movie forum!

News & Features