Capt. Jeff Eliot (Gene Kelly) roams the tawdry dives of post-war Munich searching for a delicate young beauty named Wilhelmina (Pier Angeli), the only survivor of the family that hid him from the Nazis after his plane was shot down during the war. He wants to help her. She wants to use him to smuggle contraband into Austria. But what looks like a small-time black market scheme hides something far more sinister: a vicious, well-financed conspiracy to revive the Third Reich.
Gene Kelly tackles a rare non-singing or dancing role in this post-war drama. Kelly plays Capt. Jeff Eliot, whose life was saved during World War II when a German family rescued him after his plane was shot down over Munich. In 1948, Eliot travels to Germany to thank the Lehrt Family for their kindness, only to discover that they were killed during an air raid by U.S. forces near the end of the war. The only survivor was the family's oldest daughter, Wilhelmina (Pier Angeli), who works as a barmaid in a sleazy nightclub and has developed a bitter hatred of Americans. Eliot develops an infatuation for this tragic woman and spends enough time at the club to become familiar with Heisemann (Claus Clausen), a comic at the club who has a dark secret life. Heisemann is also a gold smuggler who is part of an underground Nazi movement that hopes to overthrow the post-war government and re-launch the Third Reich. When Eliot tells his superiors what he's discovered, he's ordered to continue his romance with Wilhelmina as a cover while he learns more about Heisemann's smuggling operations. THE DEVIL MAKES THREE was one of several films MGM made in Europe to take advantage of frozen funds that the main office in Hollywood could not transport in cash but could use to finance production; another film produced under this scheme was one of Kelly's pet projects, the performance film INVITATION TO THE DANCE.
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