The French version from the arte mediatheque (France) was compared with the slightly longer German version, also from the arte mediatheque (Germany).
Operation Caviar was one of the big hits of the young Federal Republic of Germany in 1961, and brought a second part with it. His star O. W. Fischer was considered the best paid actor in Germany at the time, alongside Curd Jürgens. With Werner Peters, Fritz Tillmann, Karl Schönböck and Werner Finck, other well-known faces of the era are present in this film. Also, Senta Berger is featured in an early role.
Despite the serious theme of the "outbreak of the Second World War", the tone of the film remains cheerful throughout, comparable to the Peter Alexander comedies of those days. A later, thirteen-part remake of the material was based more on the literary source by Johannes Mario Simmel.
As a German-French co-production, Operation Caviar has not only some French actors to offer, but also two different cuts. On the one hand, this is due to the strongly developed dubbing culture of both countries. In the French version, a few seconds of footage are missing here and there without this being noticed. On the contrary: the cuts certainly benefit the flow of speech in the French dialogues.
On the other hand, scenes such as the one that illustrates Lieven's first stay in Paris ("This is Paris...") would probably be rather uninteresting for the French audience. At least the removal of Lieven's commentary, which dismissed the aversion of a young French woman to the Germans in 1939 with "Well, that'll come to pass", could be censored for that time. Certainly not a saying that would have caused laughter in France in 1961.
16 cuts = 158 Sec or approx. 2 Min 38 Sec
A quick note: The German dialogues were translated rather "verbatim" style for this comparison.
Lieven spends a little more time in the kitchen.
At the meeting, Lieven's previous speaker can be seen in another shot.
Vera says to Lieven that he should take his time with Chantal.
Lieven: "You know, if there weren't any casualties in war, I couldn't take it seriously at all."
As Chantal lies sobbing on the bed while Lieven flees the hotel room, the German version fades into a few shots of Paris. The following lines can be heard:
"This is Paris. That's Paris, too: the old, eternally young city of the midinets, just as one dreams of it. And of which you, Mr Lieven, have yet to see anything."
Another camera pan towards Lieven at the table, who now notices Mimi. Again the narration voice:
"Who would have thought that this is such a slut? Well, what's coming? All alone... You'd think! Look, there's one already. Oh, he's not one of them. Let's have a closer look..."
Mimi can be seen for a slightly longer time in the German version.
Mimi spends a little more time with the contents of her handbag.
After their conversation about the time of day, Lieven touches his glasses in embarrassment and Mimi looks at herself in the mirror.
Lieven: "You don't look like that!"
Mimi: "Oh, I'm off at six, so..."
Total 7 Sec
Only in the German version does an aircraft now circle over a map. The narrator's voice announces this:
"In an unfamiliar area, in an unfamiliar place that you won't find on any map, that remains of course between us, is hidden the secret school of secret agents, where Thomas Lieven takes the secret courses in which secret agents learn the thousands of secrets of their secret work... I mean, in on it."
The fading into the scene with which the French version begins again is consequently also missing in the latter.
Total 23 Sec
Lieven: "Oh, you used my shower! I'm so used to it, go outside, and I'm already fresh!"
"We'll talk about that later."
When General Felseneck is not sure whether horseradish is available in the house, this scene is somewhat shorter in the French version.
The shot in which Chantal tells the "Gestapo chief" that she didn't drive 200 kilometres to tell him who she is was also edited slightly differently for the French version.
Chantal's remark "I don't like the Germans" is only countered by Lieven in the German version with "Well, that'll pass.
Chantal: "In the end, I don't even know who you are."
Lieven: "I am a Chinese enigma."
Chantal (kisses him): "This is not an answer. Tell me your name! I don't even know it."
Lieven: "It depends upon the geography, Chantal."
Chantal: "When you were born, you were given a name, right?"
Lieven: "Yes, but that was so long ago, I can't remember."
Chantal: "Oh, if you weren't so slippery. They think they've got you, and then... At least tell me what your name is right now, this minute."
Lieven: "Felix is the happy one, you know? And I'm a little happy for once, a little very happy for once."
Chantal: "How nice. Now I know who I'm thinking of. Now when I think of you, at least I know who I'm thinking of."
Total 35 Sec
The gag at the end of the film with the rewound and fast-forwarded still image is also missing in the French version.
Narrative voice: "Hello, Mr. Lieven! It doesn't work like that! Please come back again."
"Stop! Well, that's not what we meant. These are not all your adventures! What happened next?"
Total 14 Sec