Funeral in Berlin 1966 thriller, espionage
This film is the coolest Cold War thriller since The Third Man. The use of the real Cold War era Berlin and the performance of Caine and Oskar Homolka (as Soviet Colonel Stok) power this film as the plot gets rather complex, but rewards close attention. The film is at its best when Harry leaves the comfortable and wealthy West Berlin and enters the lion’s den of the hard core commies in East Berlin. The change in atmosphere is shocking and was the real deal – the cold reception by the border guards, menacing guard towers, and the run-down buildings still showing the wounds of the horrific 1945 Battle of Berlin. A friend was a teenage army brat in Germany in the 60’s and saw with her own eyes a dead body hanging in the barbed wire of the wall. The victim was trying to escape East Berlin and the guards machine gunned him. They left the body hanging in the wire to send a grim message to others that dreamed of escaping East Berlin.
Harry Palmer (Michael Caine) has been labeled the anti-Bond; he wears a cheap rain coat instead of a tux, drives no fancy cars – in fact has no car at all, nor is he armed with technological gimmicks. What he has is sharp wits, iron nerves and knows how to handle a wheel gun. Berlin was a vortex of Cold War tensions with the British, Americans, Israelis, Russians, and East Germans all pursuing different goals. Palmer is ordered to Berlin to manage a high value Russian defection, but in order to stay alive he must figure out who's triple crossing all the double crossers in the murky, dangerous espionage underground. This movie is sharp, intelligent, and unsentimental. It ranks with the very best spy movies ever made, and is now available on DVD. What are you waiting for?
(Harry in East Berlin) Stok: Do you play chess? Harry: I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating.
(Harry in London meeting with MI5 boss) Harry: I didn’t pick her (Samantha) up; she picked me up. Ross: Well, you’d have to say that to get it on expenses.
Written by Ben Clark. Copyright 2016-2023. All rights reserved.