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Board the Berlin Express and speed into danger, mystery and intrigue! Four postwar heroes - a veritable United Nations from Britain, France, Russia and the U.S. - battle a cadre of diehard Nazis to rescue an anti-fascist German statesman in this tense espionage thriller starring Robert Ryan, Merle Oberon and Paul Lukas. The setting is as riveting as the action: Berlin Express was the first American movie filmed in post-World War II Germany. Director Jacques Tourneur (Cat People, Out of the Past) and cinematographer Lucien Ballard (The Wild Bunch) capture the ruin of a bombed and devastated nation that just a few years earlier threatened to rule the world.
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Top customer reviews
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.
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.
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