The Good German: Melinda Sue Gordon
January 03, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST

The Good German

Current Status
In Season
105 minutes
Limited Release Date
Wide Release Date
Cate Blanchett, George Clooney, Beau Bridges, Tobey Maguire
Steven Soderbergh
Warner Bros.
Paul Attanasio
Drama, Romance
We gave it a B

Not that we wouldn’t trade places with him in a second, but George Clooney’s got to be a bit worried about his finances these days. First, there’s all that loot he shelled out for his sprawling Italian villa on Lake Como. Now Clooney seems to think he’s running a charity. He could be pulling down $15 million a film, easy. But you know what he got paid for Syriana? $350,000. For Good Night, and Good Luck, he paid himself $1. A buck! Now he’s at it again with The Good German, another labor of love between Danny Ocean paydays. ”Honestly, the commercial films are the only time I get paid,” says Clooney.

The Good German may not be Clooney’s most commercial film — did we mention it’s in black and white? — but it is a healthy serving of Oscar bait. Set in devastated post-WWII Berlin, Steven Soderbergh’s $30 million (at least somebody got paid) murder mystery traces an American journalist (Clooney) assigned to cover the Potsdam conference between Churchill, Stalin, and Truman. He’s also got an unofficial mission of his own: to track down an old flame (Cate Blanchett). But before they can say Ich liebe dich, they stumble onto a conspiracy involving the Americans, the Soviets, and missing Nazi scientists. It’s all very Third Man.

The one performance Soderbergh is most excited about isn’t his pal Clooney’s, but Tobey Maguire’s. ”He plays this young kid who, when you meet him, appears to be this fresh-faced, all-American boy. And he turns out to be a psychotic black marketeer with a hair-trigger temper. It was a great opportunity for him to play a sociopath.” Anything else to add? ”Oh yeah, there’s a little sexuality, swearing, and violence.” Now, that’s how you sell a movie.

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