Berlin Express (1948)
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Screenplay: Harold Medford from a story by Curt Siodmak
Stars: Merle Oberon, Robert Ryan, Charles Korvin, Paul Lukas, Robert Coote, Reinhold Schünzel, Otto Waldis, Fritz Kortner and Tom Keene.
Tagline: BEHIND THE CURTAIN OF SILENCE… into Berlin’s forbidden zone!
World War II is over, Germany has been divided into four zones of occupation under the control of the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union. The city of Berlin, although located in the Soviet Zone, is also divided among the four governments.
On a train to Frankfurt, a bomb explodes in an assassination attempt on Dr. Bernhardt, a German working for a peaceful solution between Germany and the occupying governments. Although Bernhardt survived, his bodyguard was killed. When the train arrives at the busy railway station, Bernhardt is kidnapped. Several of the travelers including a US business man, a French woman, and a Russian soldier put aside their differences in an attempt to find Dr. Bernhardt.
Before it is over the group will face betrayal, mistaken identities, shootouts, fistfights, murders and more.
Thoughts (beware of spoilers)
Berlin Express was the first Hollywood production filmed on location in post-war Berlin, The bombed out city is a somber and terrifying backdrop. The opening and closing of the film features narration that gives the move a documentary feel. This didn’t work for me.
What did work were the scenes in the cabaret, the abandoned warehouse, the fight on the high dilapidated walkway, and the identity of the true murderer. Oh, and let’s not forget the scene towards the end of the film showing Dr. Bernhardt being strangled — a very cleaver reveal. It’s also interesting to note that the Russian soldier wasn’t treated as a caricature.
Berlin Express (1948) rates 3 of 5 stars.