Search, The (1948)

The Search (1948), directed by Fred Zinnemann.

A tale of the mobs of starving and ragged children of Europe at the end of WW2, filmed in occupied Germany and making use of the bombed buildings and rubble and apparently some of the children themselves. It starts with a documentary narration, but this is dropped after a while.

There is an agency (UNRRA) to feed and sort out the kids, but it is an overwhelming task. Many of them are from prison camps and are terrified of anyone in uniform. GI engineer with a heart of gold Montgomery Clift picks up a runaway and sort of adopts him. Miraculously, the boy's mother has survived the war and is searching for him. Will they tragically miss each other, or will they be reunited in the last seconds of the film, with a heavenly choir for background music?

It combines a grim, history-in-the-making story with tear-jerking sentimentality.

Warner Archive title, available for rent from ClassicFlix.