Review: ‘Berlin Express’

Most striking feature of this production is its extraordinary background of war-ravaged Germany. With a documentary eye, this film etches a powerfully grim picture of life amidst the shambles. It makes awesome and exciting cinema.

Most striking feature of this production is its extraordinary background of war-ravaged Germany. With a documentary eye, this film etches a powerfully grim picture of life amidst the shambles. It makes awesome and exciting cinema.

Chief defect of the screenplay [based on a story by Curt Siodmak] is its failure to break away from the formula of anti-Nazi films. The Nazis, now underground, are still the heavies but it’s difficult to get excited about such a group of ragged hoodlums. Their motivation in the pic, moreover, is never explained satisfactorily as they set about kidnapping a prominent German democrat, played by Paul Lukas.

Starting out on the Paris-to-Berlin express to an Allied conference on the unification of Germany, Lukas gets waylaid in Frankfurt despite an over-elaborate scheme of guarding him. Symbolizing the Big Four powers, other passengers on the train include an American (Robert Ryan), a Frenchwoman (Merle Oberon), an Englishman (Robert Coote), and a Russian (Roman Toporow) plus a dubious character of unknown nationality (Charles Korvin).

Ryan establishes himself as a firstrate actor in this film, demonstrating conclusively that his brilliant performance in Crossfire was no one-shot affair.

Berlin Express

Production

RKO. Director Jacques Tourneur; Producer Bert Granet; Screenplay Harold Medford; Camera Lucien Ballard; Editor Sherman Todd; Music Frederick Hollander; Art Director Albert S. D'Agostino, Alfred Herman

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1948. Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Merle Oberon Robert Ryan Charles Korvin Paul Lukas Robert Coote Reinhold Schunzel
Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety

Loading