Adapted by Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett from the girl’s diary and directed by George Stevens, two Jewish families and another man hide from the Nazis above a business.
In Amsterdam a truck carrying people in the back drops off Otto Frank (Joseph Schildkraut) who enters a building and walks up the stairs. He enters a vacated room and finds odd garments he remembers. Kraler (Douglas Spencer) and Miep (Dody Heath) enter the room and urge him to return to his home, but he says it has too many memories. They saved his letters and papers and hand them to him. He asks them to burn them. Mrs. Kraler finds Anne’s diary and hands the bound book to Otto. He looks at her writing and reads from 1942, three years ago. As he reads, her voice takes over, telling how she could not go to school. One day her father told her that they were going into hiding; she considered it an adventure.
Anne Frank (Millie Perkins) comes up the stairs and sees Mrs. Petronella Van Daan (Shelley Winters), Mr. Hans Van Daan (Lou Jacobi), and Peter Van Daan (Richard Beymer). Otto and Mrs. Edith Frank (Gusti Huber) come up the stairs, and he introduces Anne, his wife Edith, and Margot Frank (Diane Baker). Kraler comes up and is glad they are all there. They hear bells, and Anne looks out the window. Otto quickly closes the curtain and tells them that they must never touch the curtains again. Kraler is upset that Mr. Frank had to go into hiding. Kraler goes out, and they close the door. Otto explains that the workmen are there for nine hours, and to be safe they must be very quiet from 8 in the morning to 6 in the evening. They cannot use water then. They hear a police car go by. After six they can live normally as at home. Otto assigns places. Petronella tries to give the Frank couple a better room, but he says he thought it all out. Anne explores the attic. Peter cuts the yellow star off his coat. He asks Otto if he can get water for his cat. Anne and Margot ask him about the cat. They went to the same school but did not know each other. He tells Anne he will burn the star, but she says it is the star of David. Otto reminds Peter to take off his shoes. The bell tolls eight, and they become quiet. Otto and Anne read.
Anne’s voice reads the diary and describes their situation. If they are caught, the Kraler’s will suffer too.
On the first floor the workmen take time off for lunch. Upstairs they sit quietly and read or eat or rest. Anne reads The Tale of Two Cities that day.
The machines stop, and Kraler knocks on the door. He and Miep bring in some things for them. The young people chase after the cat until Anne picks him up and hands him to Peter. Otto asks Anne to open a box, and she finds her photographs and a diary book. She always wanted a diary and thanks him. She wants to go down, but Otto tells her she must never go beyond that door. He says no one can lock her mind, and he gives her a pen. She goes into her room and starts her diary at the age of thirteen. She describes the war in September 1942.
After six they relax and talk. Peter demands his shoes and chases Anne. Edith reprimands Anne for her behavior. Anne wants to dance, but Margot declines. She dances alone and with her father. Peter tells Anne to stay out of his room. Petronella calls her his girlfriend, and he is embarrassed. He says he is sixteen, but Edith says her husband is ten years older than she is. Peter and Anne quarrel. Edith asks Anne if she has a fever. She demands to see her tongue because they must prevent illness.
Peter writes in a book too. They hear bombing. Otto commends Anne on her schoolwork. Petronella lets Anne try on her fur coat. Anne asks her if she had many boyfriends before she was married, and Edith says that is a personal question. Petronella wants to answer even though it irritates her husband Hans. She shows her legs to Otto. Peter is still working on his studies, and Margot offers to help him. Otto offers to teach him too, and Petronella wishes she had met him instead of her husband and kisses him. She tells Peter to respect Otto because he is well educated. Petronella urges Hans to stop smoking. Anne is surprised to see grown-ups quarrel, and Hans says it is a discussion. Hans gives her a lecture for being too extroverted. She dances, spilling milk on Petronella’s coat. Edith tells Anne that she must not answer back. She should be like Margot. Anne says people have changed, and she has to fight for herself. She says they are all against her, especially her mother. Edith tells Margot she did not think it would work with two families. They hear steps on the stairs and worry until they hear the knock. Kraler and Miep bring them a large book with a radio hidden inside. They listen and hear a Strauss waltz. They listen to the BBC news and hope. They hear a Hitler speech and soldiers marching outside. They turn off the radio and hear someone come in and walk up the stairs. The man opens a cabinet and looks at a safe. Upstairs the tea is boiling, and the floor creaks. He tries to open the safe. A police car is heard going by. The man goes through papers, throwing them on the floor. Upstairs they sit and lie on the floor.
In the morning Kraler and Miep come in and see the disarray. They go up the stairs and knock. They let them in, and they talk about the visitor. Kraler says he went through everything. The Van Daans talk about getting rid of the safe or the radio or Anne’s diary. Kraler asks if they will take in another man. Mr. Albert Dussell (Ed Wynn) comes in, and Otto knows him. Edith says Kraler and Miep are their life-line. Kraler says they are not heroic, but they do not like the Nazis. Albert is glad to be with Otto. Hans says they have only three ration cards for eight people instead of seven. Albert says that Jews are being taken away every day there in Amsterdam. He mentions families that have been deported. Anne asks about a family, and Albert says they are gone. Otto has Anne take Albert to his room. Albert says he always thought of himself as Dutch. They hear a band playing, and Albert knows not to touch the window curtains. Petronella says that Kraler says things are improving.
In her room Anne asks Albert if he has children, and he says no. She asks if he is lonely, and he says he is used to it. He has an allergy to fur-bearing animals, and she tells him about the cat. He begins coughing and takes a pill. Anne says he keeps it in his room. Albert goes to the bathroom and makes noise. Anne thinks about the Jews in the concentration camps. She dreams of violence in the streets and wakes up screaming. Edith comforts her. Albert says she is endangering them, and Edith reprimands him. Anne asks Edith not to sit by her, but she asks for her father. Otto goes to Anne, and Edith cries. Margot explains to her mother that girls turn to their fathers at that age. Otto has Anne lie down. Anne says she loves him and hugs him. He urges her to love her mother too and says she is crying. Anne admits she was horrible. She asks what is wrong with her. He says parents can only set a good example and point the way. Anne says she is scared to show her nicer side lest people laugh at her.
Kraler watches the workman leave. Anne writes about Albert and complains he thinks he knows how to bring up children. She writes that the Allies invaded Africa. Air raids by the British planes are getting worse. Petronella worries that they might hit the house. Otto says it will end and asks for a cup of tea. The skylight in Peter’s room breaks, and Petronella climbs up the ladder. Seven people look out that window at the sky.
As they sit around a table, Otto reads from a book during the Hanukkah ceremony. He and Edith read from the scripture and light candles. They talk about getting presents, and Albert is used to St. Nicholas’ Day. Anne gets presents and hands one to Margot who reads a poem and is happy to get a cross-word puzzle book. Anne gives hair shampoo to Petronella and two cigarettes to Hans her father made, and he lights it. She gives her mother an IOU, promising to do whatever she says. Albert asks if he can buy it. Anne gives her father a muffler for his neck she knitted. She gives Peter a toy for his cat and a safety razor. She gives Albert ear plugs to wear at night when they are sleeping. Peter pretends he has a cat under his coat, and Albert reacts. Hans says they are getting rid of the cat because it is eating their food. Hans says to put him out, but Peter and others say no. They hear something downstairs, and Peter puts out the light.
Downstairs the robber is back and works on the safe again. Upstairs they take off their shoes and watch the cat. Peter catches it and makes a loud noise. The robber hears it and decides to leave. Otto opens the door and goes down to see what happened. Petronella tells Hans to get the money so they can buy them off. Peter goes down, followed by Anne. Edith prays aloud. Otto sees the outside door is open and gets behind it. A watchman comes to the open door. Soldiers march by, and the man leaves the doorway. Peter holds Anne and carries her up the stairs. The man tells the soldiers he will look to be sure. Otto comes up too and closes the secret passage behind a bookcase. The man and two soldiers come up the stairs to Kraler’s office. A soldier walks up stairs to the room with the bookcase and shines his flashlight at the bookcase. The light comes through cracks and shines on Peter and Anne. The cat is moving. The other soldier comes up. The cat finds toast on a dish and chews on it, knocking the plate into the sink and meowing. The soldiers realize it is a cat and laugh with relief. They go back down the stairs. They leave, and the man closes the door as he goes out. Albert says the danger has not passed. He is afraid the thief will make a deal with the Gestapo. Some consider going; but Otto asks if they have lost their faith, and he says a quick prayer. They sing a Hanukkah song.
Anne records the beginning of 1944, and the skylight is still open and has snow on it. The cat ran away, and they are all thinner. She writes about the secret change taking place in her body. Anne and Peter look at the sky and the birds flying. He gently touches her face. Miep and Kraler have brought them a cake. Petronella remembers she brought one a year ago too with the hope of peace in 1943. This one hopes for peace in 1944. Albert says Edith should cut the cake, and Petronella asks if she gives everyone the same amount. Albert says she gives more to Hans, who hands the knife to Edith. She cuts it into eight pieces and serves them. Miep says they are going to a party, and Anne asks her to tell them about it. Hans goes to get the fur coat, and Petronella fights him for it. He says they should sell the coat and tells Miep to do so, asking for cigarettes. Kraler tells Otto and the others that a man asked him about Otto, and he said he heard he went to Switzerland. Kraler says he saw him looking at the bookcase and says he remembered a door being there. Then he asked him for more money. Kraler said he would have to think about it. Otto suggests that he offer him half to find out if it is blackmail. They hear the telephone, and Kraler says it is his wife. Anne wishes the end would come, and Edith tells her to think of the people dying. Anne says they are young and cannot think of all the horrors in the world. She says it is not their fault the world is a mess. She goes to her room and sees Albert. She goes up to the loft, and Peter follows her. He tells her she is just fine. The snow is coming in the skylight. She says the adults have formed their opinions, but she is trying to find out. Peter says her father is fine, and she agrees. She says this is the first time they have really talked. He attaches a cloth to cover the skylight. He says she can let off steam with him.
Albert knocks, and Anne says she is not dressed yet. She looks in the mirror and asks Margot if she is ugly. Edith asks if she can come in, and Anne tries on a bra over her slip. Anne says she will go to Peter’s room. Petronella says the boy should call on the girl. Anne apologizes to Margot that she is left out. Margot would like to share feelings too, but Peter is not the boy for her. Anne says she is taking the place of Peter’s cat.
Anne is dressed and walks through the others and knocks on Peter’s door. Petronella asks to speak to her son and tells him not to stay up late. Edith says Anne is going to bed at nine, and she agrees. In his room Anne says they are impossible, but Peter says it does not bother him. She says they are more advanced. She wants to be a journalist or a writer. He would like to join the free Dutch forces, but she says he would never get there. She asks if he likes Margot, and he says he does not know. She says Margot is good, sweet, and beautiful. Anne says she is not beautiful, but he says she is and that she has changed. She asks how, and he says she has become quieter. She says when he gets out of there, he will never think of her. He says he does not want friends unless they are like her. She asks if he ever kissed a girl, and he says once while he was blindfolded at a party. She says she has been kissed twice—on the cheek and the hand. They agree none of those count. She says Margot would not kiss anyone unless she was engaged. She asks what he thinks about that. She says they don’t know what will happen tomorrow. He says it depends on the girl. They hear the bell, and she says she has to go. She says goodnight and that she will bring her diary to talk over things. He says he changed his mind about her and asks if she changed her mind too. He is about to kiss her lips, and she moves away. Then he slowly kisses her on the forehead and on the lips. She goes out, and the others watch her. She kisses her father and mother and hugs Margot. She sees Petronella and kisses her on the cheek before going in her room.
Anne records that Kraler is in the hospital with an ulcer, and Miep is running the business. Outside soldiers guard prisoners walking by.
Anne feels spring coming, and a flower has bloomed in a potted plant under the skylight. Laundry is on lines in Peter’s room. She puts her head on his shoulder. He comes up behind her, and she turns to him. He caresses her head, and they look out the skylight.
At night Hans lights a match and makes noise. Others are aroused. Otto turns on the light. Edith says he was stealing the bread. They had thought it was rats. Hans says he was hungry. Petronella says he is a big man. Edith scolds him and says he must go. Otto says she is speaking in anger. He asks if they are going to throw away their living in peace. He asks Hans if it will happen again, and he says no. Edith tells him to go now. Anne asks about Peter, and Edith says he can stay. Peter says he must leave with his father. Petronella asks Edith if she would put them out on the street. Petronella appeals to Otto who is grateful for the help Hans gave when he first came to Holland. Otto says they are destroying themselves. Anne asks her mother not to send them away. Peter is listening to the radio and says the Allies have invaded Normandy. Albert is counting the potatoes, and Edith makes him stop. Miep comes in and says they have landed in France on D-Day. Kraler comes in, and they celebrate and sing. Hans sits down and cries, saying he is ashamed. Otto says they are going to be liberated. Edith starts to cry and apologizes to Hans. Albert tells them to stop spoiling the invasion.
All eight look through the skylight at the planes. They sit around the table and listen to Winston Churchill on the radio. Anne has painted a hat, and Peter smiles at her. Anne hopes to be in school by fall. In July the invasion seems bogged down. Kraler has to have an operation. Miep said the warehouseman did not know anything. They see people being arrested across the street, and they took the vegetable man for hiding two Jews. Albert says they will trace it to them. Anne says they all feel low now. She hopes she will learn to write well. They hear the telephone ringing a third time. Albert says it is a signal and that Miep may be trying to warn them. Miep has not been there for three days. No one has come to work, and Albert says it is Friday. The phone rings again, and Albert and Hans urge Otto to answer it and just listen. Otto says no because it could reveal they are in the building. Albert tries to go down but is stopped by Peter and Otto. Petronella thinks of dying, and Hans quarrels with her.
Anne talks to Peter in his room. She imagines herself outside however she wants it. She asks if that is not wonderful. She has gone crazy about nature, and he says he has just gone crazy. She wishes he had religion, to believe in something. She thinks of his dearness, and she puts her hand on his shoulder. She finds herself in God. When he thinks, he gets mad. She thinks the world is going through a phase that will pass. She still believes that people are good at heart. He wants to see something now. She suggests he look at it as part of a great pattern. She has him look at the sky. They hear a police car. Peter has his arm around Anne and kisses her.
They hear a whistle and the door buzzer. Otto goes down the stairs, followed by Peter and Hans. Soldiers are demanding the door be opened. The three go back up and close the door. They all hear the soldiers breaking in. Otto hands bags to Edith and Margot. Otto says they have lived in fear, but now they can live in hope. The door is broken down, and Anne records they had to get their things. Anne says goodbye to her diary and leaves it behind.
Otto is reading the end and says no more. Miep says she went to the country to find food. Kraler says they found out that it was the thief who told them. Otto thought the British and Americans would get to them. He says they were sent to different camps. He was freed in January. He learned that his wife, Margot, and the three Van Daans died. Finally he learned that Anne must have been killed also. He reads of her belief in people and says she puts him to shame.
This dramatization of a true story based on a girl’s diary portrays the fear Jews faced from the extreme persecution by the Nazis. The viewpoint of a girl becoming a young woman shows her psychological development and her wonderful faith in people. Others have differing attitudes as they all have to adapt to difficult circumstances.