Miss Arizona  (1988)





Director:     .

Starring:     Marcello Mastroianni (Sandor Rozsnyai), Hanna Schygulla (Mitzi Rozsnyai), Alessandra Martines (Marta), Urbano Barberini (Stanley), Berta Domínguez D., Augusto Poderosi (German officer), Juli Básti (Eva), Dorottya Udvaros (Zsuzsa), Gábor Reviczky (Kardos), Dezsö Garas (Aron), Károly Eperjes (Paul), Péter Trokán, Sándor Téri, Pál Hetényi (Stein), Frigyes Hollósi.

1930s, mother & son return to Budapest from Italy to run the successful Arizona Club; the son falls for a woman with ties to high-ranking Nazis and then learns he is half Jewish as the Nazi round-up and deportations begin (in English)



Spoiler Warning:

1920 Budapest.  A Jewish man named Stein sees two soldiers coming up to his apartment where he lives with his wife Mitzi and his son Andros.  He grabs his son's stuffed monkey toy.  The soldiers start up the stairs to the man's apartment.  He puts on his overcoat and is grabbed by the soldiers.  They call him a filthy Jew and demand that he tell them where the diamonds are.  Andros hangs on tight to his monkey as his mother hangs on tight to him.  The Jewish man says he will take them to where the diamonds are.  As he travels in the back seat of a car with one of the soldiers he opens the car door and jumps out, but he hits up against brick walls and glass windows. The soldiers stop the car and back the car up.  They see the man is dead and leave the scene of the crime.

Mitzi performs a song in an audition session.  She is rejected.  The next person up is Sandor Rozsnyai, a half-Jewish Italian.  He tells Mitzi:  "They don't deserve us."  Sandor performs a comic routine with the piano, but the theater man doesn't like it.  So Sandor is out like Mitzi.

The two soldiers come to Mitzi's changing room and grab her.  They demand that she tell them where the diamonds are.  She says that she doesn't know what they are talking about.  Sandor hears the ruckus and he goes to get a trick gun from one of the performers.  He goes down to the changing room and gets rid of the two soldiers.  He then hails a taxi and puts Mitzi in it.  He gives his business card to her roommate.  He then takes Mitzi to his apartment. 

He wipes the blood off her face.  Mitzi tells him that her husband took her off the streets.  She didn't love him, but he was good to her. 

Mitzi's agent comes to her apartment, but only the roommate Eva is there.  She says she doesn't know where Mitzi is.  The agent tells her to tell Mitzi that she has to give up the location of the diamonds or both he and Mitzi will be killed. 

Mitzi and Sandor sleep in the single bed together.  On another occasion she and Sandor look out the windows.  There Mitzi sees her son standing alone.  She sends Sandor down to get the kid and bring him to her. 

Men looking for Mitzi stop their car near Sando's apartment building. 

Mitzi asks her son how did he find where she was?  He shows the business card that Sandor gave to Eva.  He also gives mother's saving to her, courtesy of Eva.  Mitzi also recovers her passport which makes her happy.  Sandor says she's going to need that passport because her "friends" are outside.  She tells her boy not to worry because "Uncle" Sandor is going to get them out of here.  Sandor thinks a minute then says that his pals can get him safely out of Budapest.

Sandor and the two others pretend that they are with the piano movers and escape from their followers.  They then travel by boat to Italy.  In Italy the three from Budapest perform in small theaters as the Trio Arizona. 

Italy is being slowly taken over by the fascists.  In the hotel dining room where Sandor and company are staying, the fascists are holding a dinner.  They notice the pretty Mitzi and invite her over, but she keeps on going to her hotel room.  Later the hostess comes up to ask Mitzi is she would like to come down to the party (with the fascists).  Mitzi decides to get dressed and go down to the party.  Sandor doesn't like it, but he doesn't stop her.  Later at night, Andros goes down to see what his mother is doing.  She is up on top of the table singing and dancing for the fascists.  (She is not very politically knowledgeable.)  Sandor comes down to get the missing Andros.  That's when he sees what Mitzi's doing. 

Sandor is told by the hostess that his "wife" did very well for herself, in terms of money and maybe other things.  The trio travel on a train to the Garibaldi Theater.  She tells Sandor that the money she got was a loan.  He wants to know the truth. She tells him:  "What difference does it make?"  For that, he slaps her across the face. 

1928.  The males of the Trio Arizona wear black-face for their act and Mitzi sings and dances.  They perform the same routine for an audience that includes quite a few fascists. Sandor doesn't like seeing Mussolini's bust and portrait in the room and he runs afoul of the fascists.  A fight breaks out between the fascists and non-fascists.  The trio has to sneak out the back of the theater.  When they try to go home they can't because a bunch of fascists are waiting for them in front of their hotel.  They sneak onto a train to get away.  They wind up in a cattle car.  There is some mail in the car also, at the other end.  They look at the writing on the tags and find out that the mail and the train are headed for Budapest.  They have a good laugh about it. 

While on the train, Andros finds some diamonds hidden in the monkey.  He show the diamonds to his mother and she says they are real diamonds, not fake ones. 

In Budapest they sell the diamonds and establish the nightclub Arizona.  It's a real popular place with great music by Sandor who conducts an orchestra and singing and dancing by Mitzi and the chorus girls. 

1936 Budapest.  The night life at the Arizona is blazing hot.  Andros is a young man now.  Sometimes the chorus girls ask him to do favors for them, such as ask about the raise they were expecting that Suzie Monar asked him about.  He tries to accommodate them.

Mitzi has a suitor.  He is a young American fellow.  He's a journalist, but now his contract is finished and he has to go back to the United States.  This upsets Mitzi.  He asks her to come with him.  Sandor is aware of the situation.  She feels like crying, but the show must go on.  She goes out and sings for the enthusiastic crowd. 

Sandor is up late at night.  He sees the American sleeping on one of the chairs in the club.  He goes over to him and looks at still another portrait of Mitzi by the journalist.  He says:  "Oh, dear."  A man called Kardos comes into the club.  He tells Sandor that he is just making sure everything is alright.  Sandor uses the opportunity to ask if it's true when people says he is an informer?  Kardos actually likes the Arizona and he wants to watch out for its best interests.  He says sometimes one needs the help of important people in Budapest.  "They can close you down for no reason.  It pays to be friendly."  Sandor says he's fed up with Kardos and he fires him. 

Kardos is mad about being fired.  He talks to Eva who tries to keep at least some link with Kardos.  She says she will put in a good word for him with Mitzi. 

The American walks out of the Arizona, looks back and says:  "Goodnight, Miss Arizona."

1938.  Auditions are being held for the Arizona.  A huge crowd shows up to get hired as acts for the nightclub. 

Inside one act after another performs.  Kardos works at the club still.  A woman named Marta Todd speaks with Andros trying to guess what's his job at the club. 

A guy in an expensive car pulls up to the club and tells the doorman that he wants to speak to Marta Todd.  Right now Marta is dancing for Sandor.  Mitzi speaks up to stop the performance.  She says the dance was very nice, but it's not what they do here.  Sandor and Andros are disappointed. 

Marta gets dressed and marches straight out to the waiting rich fellow.  She tells him that Mitzi is just impossible.  The man says he arranged all this for her.  "I'll see that she changes her mind."  He then says he's been ordered back to Berlin tomorrow.  "Are you coming with me?"  Marta shrugs her shoulders.  Meanwhile Andros has come out with roses in his hands.  He sees what's going on, drops the roses and goes back into the club.  He kind of sulks sitting in a chair.  But then Marta shows up with the roses saying he's the sweetest boy she ever met.  Eva knocks on the door and comes in.  She stops when she sees Marta with Andros.  Eva tells Sandor what's going on.  He says it's about time.  He tells Eva to bring them some champagne and don't let Mitzi into the room. 

The couple talk and it's revealed that Eva knew what job Andros did around the place.  He asks her about that man he saw her with, but she says she doesn't want to talk about him.  He always follows her around.  The couple kiss.

1939.  September 1.  The day Germany attacks Poland and begins WWII.  The father and son that helped the Trio Arizona escape from Budapest have come to see Sandor at the club.  The doorman doesn't let them in.  They explain that they are old friends of Sandor.  They get in.  Mitzi greets them. 

Sandor announces that there are two old friends of his who have come to the club for the first time. He asks for the audience's applause.  Marta sings for the crowd. 

Kardos telephones over to the table of Sandor's old friends to tell them that they are filthy Jews and to get out of the nightclub.  He presses the button that lowers them to the floor below. 

The old friends stay around and after hours they party with Sandor and the family.  The doorman whispers the news to Sandor that the Germans have invaded Poland.  It's war.  Mitzi dismisses this as unimportant because Poland is so far away.  [The only country that separates Hungary from Poland is Czechoslovakia and that was already occupied by the Germans.  So effectively Hungary was just below German-controlled territory.] 

In the bedroom Mitzi worries what will happen to them when war comes?  He tells her not to worry, he will protect them.  He goes over to get his pistol.  He says:  "But first.  I want to kill you first."  She says:  "I know you do.  I'm getting old."  Sandor tries to comfort her.  She says Andros is so changed.  Mitzi starts crying that she's afraid.  She then asks Sandor:  "Why didn't you ever tell me that you loved me?"  Sandor replies:  "I love you, stupid.  I love you."  They kiss. 

Marta is in the chorus line as Mitzi sings a song to the crowd. 

After work Sandor comes to Eva asking where's Mitzi?  She went to some dinner party.  Sandor says he will go out too.  He goes to his room.  There he sees another portrait in pencil done of Marta by the American.  And, in fact, Marta is out with Stanley.  She asks him why did he come back?  He says he came back for what he wanted to do, and he might need some information from her.  Eva tells him not to use her as the others have.  "Let's stay out of it."  Stanley says:  "How can we?"  The police stop Stanley and ask to see his passport.  He shows them and they go away.  Now Marta asks for a "real" kiss. 

Chorus girl Susan tells Sandor that she will be leaving the Arizona.  She says she's sorry to be leaving, but only because of Sandor.  She gives him a passionate kiss.  Then she asks him to come to her place, which is nearby.  He says he will come.  He'll call her later. 

Mitzi comes back home and is going to bed.  Sandor is going out.  He asks how's Stanley?  She avoids the question. 

A newsreel talks about how the Germans are approaching Moscow, Russia.  Stanley must be some kind of agent.  He sits next to a man in the movie theater and takes a note from him.  Stanley then leaves the theater.  Someone follows Stanley out of the theater.  Outside Stanley hops into a passing car and two men in a car follow Stanley. 

A woman asks for some information from Sandor.  He won't cooperate with her. 

1941.  Andros and Marta marry with a grand celebration at the Arizona.  The elite of Budapest attend the reception. 

Kardos tells Sandor:  "Look out, Maestro.  There's new laws concerning the Jews.  They have consequences for you too."  Mitzi says:  "I'll arrange everything."

1942.  Eva says she's not Jewish so they should put the Arizona ownership under her name.

1943.  Sandor bemoans the fact that his band players are being drafted or put in prison.  "We've survived this far, we'll survive this too."

1944.  Mitzi tells her son not to worry.  They won't draft him.  She has fixed everything for him.  Andros asks:  "But, why didn't you tell me I was Jewish?"

Andros gets a draft notice.  He burns the notice. 

Marta and Sandor work on a dance routine.  Andros stops to listen in on their conversation. She tells Sandor that she has strong feelings for him.  Sandor says:  "No."  Andros makes a lot of noise as he leaves. 

Andros goes to have a look at his mother who is with the press.  He goes and gets a pistol that he puts in his pocket.  A man on stage makes all kinds of special effects noises imitating the sounds of battle.  Eva finds a note left by Andros that says:  "Mother, father, forgive men."  As the performance on stage reaches his loudest decibels, Andros shoots himself with tears in his eyes.  Eva finds him first and then so does Marta. 

A funeral is held for Andros.  Marta's German boyfriend is there in a German military uniform. 

The show must go on.  Sandor leads the dance orchestra.  Now most of the male patrons are German officers.  Marta's boyfriend arrives.  She has the pistol with her, but she can't bring herself to shoot the German.  She tells him to go away, but he takes her by the hand.  Air raid sirens sound off.  People rush to shelters.  Marta hugs the German.  Sandor asks Kardos where is Mitzi?  He tells Sandor that he has to get out of here.  "They're coming to get you, tomorrow."  He says he's trying to help him.  "You Jew.  Pack your bags and disappear."  Sandor ignores him. 

The next morning the German puts Marta in a car and the car pulls away from the Arizona.   German operatives come for Sandor.  He is ready to go with them willingly, but Mitzi shows up and wants to know what's going on.  The leader insults the Jewish part of Sandor and Sandor slaps him.  The other two men grab Sandor.  Kardos is with them. 

Stanley comes looking for Mitzi.  Eva comes looking for Mitzi too.  She turns on the light, notices that Mitzi is not there, but also notices that Stanley is in the room.  He asks Eva for her help in contacting Mitzi. 

Kardos explains to Mitzi if she gives Stanley up to the Germans, she will get Sandor in exchange.  The American is a spy.  She says she hasn't seen Stanley for years.  Kardos tells her to tell them and she will have two Turkish passports out of the country for her and Sandor. 

The round-up of the Jews starts big time now. 

Mitzi performs in the nightclub.  She sees the Gestapo coming for Stanley.  She also sees Stanley in the wings of the club.  She looks at him and he nods to her.  She then turns her head away from him.  Stanley has a pistol but the Gestapo grab it from him and take him away.  Stanley pushes himself and the two men through a glass window and down to the floor below. 

Sandor is in line to get onto the cattle cars.  He sees his old friends and they decide to get on the same cattle car.  But then Sandor name is called out over a loudspeaker.  He goes to the station head.  The man says Sandor has influential friends.  As he talks, Sandor sees out the window his two friends heading out on the train.  The car is closed up.

Sandor goes to the bombed out Arizona.  Mitzi is there alone.  He asks her why did they let him go?  She gets up and retrieves a feather from the ruins.  He says she's tired.  She says nothing. 

Sandor died in the concentration camp Auschwitz.  Mitzi was seen getting out of a German car with her jewels and her Turkish passport.  No one has seen her since.


Spoiler Warning:  Sad, but enjoyable film.  Great acting by the great actors Marcello Mastroianni (as Sandor Rozsnyai) and Hanna Schygulla (as Mitzi Rozsnyai).  Mitzi had a roving eye for younger men, and made her second husband very angry with her.  But in the end Mitzi sacrificed her boyfriend, the American Stanley, an American agent, to have Sandor with two Turkish passports.  But in the end, Mitzi has no one.  She lost her first husband, her son, her boyfriend and her second husband.  Then she with her Turkish passport disappears from history.  My wife and I both liked the movie, though at times it was hard to like the Mitzi character.  (But even that just made the film more suspenseful and enjoyable.) 

Wikipedia says that:  "Anti-Jewish policies grew more repressive in the interwar period as Hungary's leaders, who remained committed to regaining the lost territories of "Greater Hungary", chose to align themselves (albeit warily) with the fascist governments of Germany and Italy – the international actors most likely to stand behind Hungary's claims. The inter-war years also saw the emergence of flourishing fascist groups, such as the Hungarian National Socialist Party and the Arrow Cross Party."  And then in 1938 even more anti-Semitic acts were set up, which really punished the Jewish people.  In 1941 there was a big massacre of Jewish Polish and Hungarian refugees at the end of August in in Kameniec-Podolsk (Kamianets-Podilskyi).

March 18, 1944, German tanks rolled into Budapest.  On April 14, Endre, Baky, and Eichmann decided to deport all the Jews of Hungary.  They deported 12,000 Jews a day to Auschwitz.

November 29.  The big Budapest ghetto was set up in the Erzsébetváros part of Budapest.

January 18, 1945.  Soviet troops liberated the big Budapest ghetto.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



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