on August 2, 2010
This is not a review of the product, but the film. Just watched it on TCM. It blew me away. Next to Judgment at Nuremburg, it's the greatest post-WWII film I've ever seen. A very important German peace activist is targeted on a train. Four men who happen to be on the train, from four different countries (Britain, France, Russia, & the U.S.) all team together to rescue the activist. Truly great stuff. I took it for a lazy Sunday afternoon flick, but I was very suprised to see a pure classic. Robert Ryan and Merle Oberon are the two headliners, he the U.S. representative, she the secretary to the German activist. Great character actors round out the cast. Excellent!
on January 2, 2002
Berlin Express was the first post war American movie to be shot on location in defeated Germany and the evocative location shots of bombed out townscapes and the depiction of a nation so economically and spiritually depressed that cigarettes are its chief currency and the spirit of resentment towards its conquerors still burns brightly are the most striking aspects of the picture.
The plot revolves around the attempts of dissident Germans,unwilling to accept the reality of their crushing defeat in World War two ,to foil the plans of a prominent politician to press ahead with unification plans and greater co-operation with the occupying Allied powers
Out to stop them are some of his travelling companions on the eponymous train--his secretary(Merle Oberon) an American nutritionist,an English teacher ,a Soviet military man and an individual whose nationality remains elusive(Charles Corvin)
The tale takes them to low cabarets and abandoned warehouses ,coming to a climax back on ther train with one of their number turning out to be a traitor
Strong performances by Ryan as the nutritionist and Walter Slezak as the politician keep things rolling along and some atmospheric direction by the under-rated Jacques Tourneur help sustain interest
The tension between the occupying powers and the mutual suspicion between the Soviets and the Western powers is put over succintly and well
The movie is over-relaint on voiceovers and has dated but still has interest.The Internet Movie Database puts this in its bottom 10 film noir list which is silly
Its neither that bad nor is it a film noir,but rather is a neat thriller with an optimistic ending and a belief in progress and the possibility of peace between nations It might be naive but it isn't noir
on September 10, 2009
Come on Amazon you can do better...!!!....this movie is available on Warner's Movie site for half the price this vendor is selling it for. We depend on Amazon to offer good movies and good service at fair prices....this movie is way overpriced...!!!
An anti-fascist German is kidnapped by Nazi in post-WW2 Berlin. A group consisting of an American (Robert Ryan), a Frenchman, a Russian, and an Englishman track down the kidnappers and rescue the hostage. This is the first American movie to be filmed in post-WW2 Germany. Exciting with a good script..
on June 23, 2010
While still worth seeing, BERLIN EXPRESS should have been a better film than it turned out to be. The plot involves the attempt to protect an anti-fascist German statesman (Paul Lukas) from members of a die-hard Nazi underground. An attack made on the train ultimately leads to a manhunt through bombed out Frankfurt.
According to the DVD's cover, this was "the first American movie filmed in post-World War II Germany". Director Jacques Tourneur and cinematographer Lucien Ballard take full advantage of this opportunity by producing some superb visuals of the city's remains. In my opinion, they even do a better job than Roberto Rossellini did, in this regard, for ROME, OPEN CITY (1945); a film that obviously influenced BERLIN EXPRESS.
Unfortunately, the visuals and overall pacing are impaired by a convoluted script. Specifically, an attempt is made to make BERLIN EXPRESS more than an espionage thriller. It also tries to be a "why can't we all just get along" film. With this in mind, the train passengers that later form the manhunt group were drawn from different nationalities; Robert Ryan is American, Merle Oberon is French; there is also a Britisher, a Russian, and a few Germans.
Despite the ensuing international relations socio-political dialogue, it is still a film worth seeing. The scene of Robert Ryan being shot at in a large beer vat is quite affecting: it has stayed with me for decades. And I'm not sure if I'll be able to get Merle Oberon's feathered hat out of my mind anytime soon.
The Warner Archive Collection print has not been restored in any way, and there are a number of visual artifacts, but this did not interfere with my enjoyment of the film.
on June 13, 2011
The movie is interesting, thrilling and filmed on location in a destroyed Berlin, with a great Cast.
My eyes went during the movie over to Roman Toporow who played Lt. Maxim. He made only 3 movies in his life: "Berlin Express" was his first one. 1949 "The Red Danube" and 1950 "Kim" (the Russian).
Camerawork and Light was great used for the movie and good that I understand German, English and French because there are no subtitles during the films. Also not on DVD available. Thats the ONE minus point I have for this DVD release.
The picture quality isn't restored / remastered and contains some small defects. But mainly the picture quality is good
on December 28, 2013
Saw half of this years ago on late night cable, glad to see it available, though the dvd-r I received froze. Amazon did replace it and the second disk worked fine. No fancy packaging, extras, restoration - very basic.
The movie is an old-fashioned spy thriller, post-WW2 but before the Cold War politics settled in and defined spy and war movies for the next few decades. As such, it is dated, but so are screwball comedies. And, it seems,are a lot of Cold War movies. that doesn't mean it can't be entertaining. It isn't classic Tourneur, but there are great little scenes and touches, images that stay with you. Shot in post-war Germany for the most part, the background ruin is sobering.
Robert Ryan add Merle Oberon give great performances. The script is uneven, occasionally heavy on voiceovers, but then delivering nice little bits like using a clown for a plot device (evil or good, depending on who inhabits the costume). the image of the clown making his way through ruins is quite startling. Exchanges like the one between Oberon and Ryan in the train as he discovers she's taken over his sleeping cabin, and when Ryan breaks down the definitions of "attractive" and "good-Looking" by calling out ladies sitting at other tables in a dive, are nicely done. And there's cleverness in having two representatives of the occupying forces settling who is going to "occupy" the lower bunk with a coin flip, as they head into Germany. And a set piece death struggle that takes place in an enormous beer vat is outstanding.
While not in the same league as The Third Man, or Out of the Past or Cat People, this is a movie that deserves to be appreciated by film fans whose taste can accept pre-MTV film making as a legitimate art form. This is one of those movies I want to revisit every now and then.
on April 25, 2013
One of the first American films photographed in postwar Europe including Paris, Frankfurt am Main and Berlin Germany. In divided Germany just after WWII, people from many different countries are passengers on a train. When one of the passengers, Dr. Bernhardt, a German working for peace (Paul Lukas), is kidnapped by former Nazis who don't want his ideas to work, the others must set aside their differences and work together to find him in time for an important conference. Robert Ryan portrays an American government agricultural envoy who becomes entangled in the intrigue, and beautiful Merle Oberan is the German Peace envoy's assistant. Much of this took place before the Russian blockade of Berlin, and it's interesting to see a young Russian officer (Roman Toporow), a former English soldier (Robert Coote) and a Frenchman (Charles Korvin) grudgingly cooperating to find the kidnapped envoy. But not is all as it seems, and the surprise ending will keep you glued to your chair! The photography is top-notch, showing the bomb-destroyed cities of Germany, and lots of great scenes of the steam-powered train that carried important military and civilian personel to Berlin in the post-war Occupation period. It has all the flavor of an Orient Express mystery! I highly recommend this film for the historical value of what geopolitical relations were like in Europe follwing the Second World War.
on May 27, 2005
This is one of my favorite movies of the post WWII era, as it gives viewers today a taste of life and mood in occupied Germany, as well as a very good, gripping story. A mystery unveiled toward the end probably will surprise most of its audience. The movie has plenty of shadow and light, good direction by the younger Tourneur, and reminded me a little of Hitchcock's 39 STEPS. I recommend it to those who haven't seen it, or have not done so recently.
on April 1, 2013
Most of Hollywood's post-WW2 dramas filmed in Europe were directed by European expatriates, as was this 1948 RKO production. Director Jacques Tourneur started out in French cinema as a teenager, but spent most of his career in the American studio system. He was ideally suited to direct a film in post-war France and Germany.
BERLIN EXPRESS transplants a fairly standard film-noir story to postwar Europe; a random collection of people working for the Allied Occupation are caught up in neo-Nazi attempts to kidnap or kill a German statesman(Paul Lukas)prior to a major postwar conference in Berlin. Robert Ryan plays an American agricultural expert; British actor Robert Coote's a schoolteacher; Merle Oberon plays Lukas' devoted French secretary; Charles Korvin plays a French businessman, and Roman Toporow plays the stoic Red Army Lt. Maxim.
The location filming, in Berlin and Franfurt-am-Main, is staggering in its depiction of an utterly devastated country being brought back to life---it goes a long way toward selling a made-in-Hollywood script. Definitely a period-piece, but worth seeing and enjoying.
'Berlin Express' may not have much of a reputation, but it's one of Jacques Tourneur's best thrillers. Virtually none of it takes place on the Berlin Express, with the majority of the film shot on location in the awe-inspiring ruins of an almost totally destroyed post-war Frankfurt where Robert Ryan teams up with an Allies-in-microcosm group of companions including unflatteringly shot Frenchwoman Merle Oberon (sporting the film's worst accent by far) and Brit Robert Coote (who thankfully doesn't even attempt a Liverpool accent) to find Paul Lukas' kidnapped politician and save him from die-hard Nazi fanatics. Great moments abound, from the Paris opening where a carrier pigeon is shot, then nearly given a formal burial in the shadow of Montmatre's Sacre Couer by children before reaching maman's kitchen table to reveal a coded message, to Robert Ryan literally finding himself trapped in a barrel in bombed out brewery.
Great production line entertainment that demonstrates just how good studio product could be when you got the formula right, this is a trip well worth taking. The French PAL DVD from Editions Montparnasse boasts a very good good transfer and removable French subtitles.