A sailor is not a snowman

Story 49

This alternative title attracted viewers to the cinemas in 1949 to watch the Swiss feature film “Swiss Tour”. Filming took place in Zermatt, on the Gornergrat and in Cervinia. But what inspired the producers to make this film? And what is a sailor doing in the mountains? 

Inspired by soldier holidaymakers 

After the end of the Second World War, more than 300,000 US soldiers stationed in Europe travelled to Switzerland. As army vacationers, they became effective advertising ambassadors for the Alpine region, as their travel experiences were published in newspaper articles and books. Praesens AG was inspired by these stories and decided to shoot the comedy “Swiss Tour”. 

Hollywood star and Zermatt skier 

Cornel Wilde, a well-known Hollywood star at the time, was hired to play the leading role. He was not only looking forward to the high salary of USD 80,000 (at that time around CHF 344,000) but also to working with European actresses such as Simone Signoret and Josette Day. A special challenge for him was skiing. But Wilde was able to count on the support of famous Zermatt skiers such as Otto Furrer and Elias Julen, who also starred in the film. 

A sailor on skis 

The film tells the story of a group of American soldiers who spend a four-day leave in Switzerland. The main character Robin Stanley, a sailor, falls in love with a saleswoman from a watch shop in Montreux, but she runs away from him to Zermatt. The young woman manages to escape from him on skis as he chases her through the winter landscape on the Gornergrat. The sailor, who is not particularly talented at winter sports – after all, a sailor is not a snowman – enters a pub and tries to drown his sorrows in alcohol. There he flirts with an attractive nightclub dancer. This leads to a worsening of the crisis between the two lovers. But we can let you into a secret: the film has a happy end. 

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