Funeral in Berlin


1h 42m 1966
Funeral in Berlin

Brief Synopsis

The British send their top secret agent to help a Soviet intelligence officer defect.

Film Details

Genre
Action
Mystery
Spy
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
New York opening: 22 Dec 1966
Production Company
Jovera, S. A.; Lowndes Productions
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures
Country
United Kingdom
Location
Berlin, West Germany
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Funeral in Berlin by Len Deighton (London, 1964).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Harry Palmer, coerced into becoming a British spy, is sent to Berlin by Colonel Ross of Intelligence to arrange for the defection of Colonel Stok, the Soviet officer in charge of Berlin Wall security. The old Russian demands a foolproof method of escape, and Palmer contacts Johnny Vulkan, a fellow agent and former black market colleague who puts him in touch with Kreutzmann, a sinister professional escape artist. At the same time Palmer becomes involved with model Samantha Steel, an Israeli agent engaged in hunting Nazi war criminal Paul Louis Broum. Broum possesses documents which tell of a fortune stolen from Jews by Nazis during World War II and hidden in a Swiss bank account. Kreutzmann's plan is to arrange a funeral, hide Stok in a coffin supposedly belonging to an East German, and send it across the border. All goes as scheduled, but when the casket is opened in West Berlin, it contains the murdered body of Kreutzmann. Soon Palmer discovers that he has been double-crossed by everyone involved in the operation: the documents given to him by Ross to aid Kreutzmann are the very documents sought by Samantha's Israeli organization; Vulkan is really Broum; and Stok contrived the entire defection hoax to eliminate Kreutzmann, who posed a threat to his security arrangements. Vulkan corners Palmer in an abandoned building and forces him to hand over the documents. To protect himself from Samantha, who believes the documents are still in his possession and would kill him to obtain them, Palmer tricks Vulkan into switching topcoats. As the ex-Nazi leaves the building in Palmer's trenchcoat, the Israelis open fire. Palmer points out the documents in the dead man's pocket and strolls off.

Film Details

Genre
Action
Mystery
Spy
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
New York opening: 22 Dec 1966
Production Company
Jovera, S. A.; Lowndes Productions
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures
Country
United Kingdom
Location
Berlin, West Germany
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Funeral in Berlin by Len Deighton (London, 1964).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 42m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Articles

Funeral in Berlin


The Ipcress File (1965) was a breakthrough film for Michael Caine. Based on the novel by Len Deighton and produced by Harry Saltzman, one of the men behind the hugely successful James Bond films, The Ipcress File was the first in what became a series of films starring Caine as British Intelligence agent, Harry Palmer. The character was unnamed in Deighton's novels--the name was an invention of Saltzman and Caine--but it became so identified with the series that even the novels are referred to as the "Harry Palmer" series. In the film incarnation, he's a smart and sophisticated working class bloke with a criminal past who is blackmailed into service by a manipulative and cold-blooded colonel. It was the first film to put Michael Caine's name above the title and it was a hit. A sequel was inevitable.

Funeral in Berlin (1966), based on the third novel in Deighton's series, sends Harry to Germany to arrange the defection of Colonel Stok (Oskar Homolka), a Russian intelligence officer posted to East Berlin, despite Harry's suspicions of ulterior motives. Working with Johnny Vulkan (Paul Hubschmid), Britain's man in West Berlin, he hires an infamous underworld smuggler to arrange the defection. The entire affair is complicated by Israeli agents on the hunt for a Nazi war criminal and a beautiful model (Eva Renzi) who distracts Harry long enough for his room to be searched. There is much more to the mission than Harry's cagey boss (Guy Doleman) is telling him.

Saltzman found Sydney J. Furie, the director of Ipcress, too difficult to work with, so he turned to Guy Hamilton, director of the hugely successful Goldfinger, for the sequel. Production designer Ken Adams and composer John Barry were also Bond movie veterans but they were careful to create a different world for this film. Funeral in Berlin falls somewhere between the glamor of the James Bond movies and the grim, cynical portrait of Cold War spycraft in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Hamilton served with a military intelligence during World War II, according to Caine, and he would adjust scenes to match his experience. In contrast to the glamor and spectacle of the Bond movies, Funeral in Berlin was shot on location on the streets and in the outskirts of Berlin, from the Tempelhof Airport to the cabaret district at night. Things were tenser when they shot near the heavily-patrolled Berlin Wall. "Every time we tried to film near the Wall, the Russians used to bring bright lights and mirrors out and shine them straight into the lenses," recalled Caine. When Harry crossed into East Germany through Checkpoint Charlie, the most heavily guarded route between East and West Berlin, the camera crew kept its distance, using a telephoto lens to shoot Caine's journey across the border.

Holding the center, of course, is Caine's Harry Palmer, a man more comfortable hiring crooks to do his investigating than trusting the police or even fellow agents. He's smart, sardonic and a little insubordinate. Clad in horn-rimmed glasses and a rumpled overcoat rather than fitted suits and tuxedos, he looks nothing like the dashing spies in the Bond movie knock-offs. "There is only one other actor I would rather have had than Michael Caine to be my spy," said author Len Deighton. "That's Humphrey Bogart. And he's dead."

Sources:
The Elephant to Hollywood, Michael Caine. Henry Holt, 2010.
Raising Caine, William Hall. Prentice-Hall, 1982.
Man at the Wall, a short promotional documentary, no listed director. Paramount Pictures, 1966.
IMDb

By Sean Axmaker
Funeral In Berlin

Funeral in Berlin

The Ipcress File (1965) was a breakthrough film for Michael Caine. Based on the novel by Len Deighton and produced by Harry Saltzman, one of the men behind the hugely successful James Bond films, The Ipcress File was the first in what became a series of films starring Caine as British Intelligence agent, Harry Palmer. The character was unnamed in Deighton's novels--the name was an invention of Saltzman and Caine--but it became so identified with the series that even the novels are referred to as the "Harry Palmer" series. In the film incarnation, he's a smart and sophisticated working class bloke with a criminal past who is blackmailed into service by a manipulative and cold-blooded colonel. It was the first film to put Michael Caine's name above the title and it was a hit. A sequel was inevitable. Funeral in Berlin (1966), based on the third novel in Deighton's series, sends Harry to Germany to arrange the defection of Colonel Stok (Oskar Homolka), a Russian intelligence officer posted to East Berlin, despite Harry's suspicions of ulterior motives. Working with Johnny Vulkan (Paul Hubschmid), Britain's man in West Berlin, he hires an infamous underworld smuggler to arrange the defection. The entire affair is complicated by Israeli agents on the hunt for a Nazi war criminal and a beautiful model (Eva Renzi) who distracts Harry long enough for his room to be searched. There is much more to the mission than Harry's cagey boss (Guy Doleman) is telling him. Saltzman found Sydney J. Furie, the director of Ipcress, too difficult to work with, so he turned to Guy Hamilton, director of the hugely successful Goldfinger, for the sequel. Production designer Ken Adams and composer John Barry were also Bond movie veterans but they were careful to create a different world for this film. Funeral in Berlin falls somewhere between the glamor of the James Bond movies and the grim, cynical portrait of Cold War spycraft in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Hamilton served with a military intelligence during World War II, according to Caine, and he would adjust scenes to match his experience. In contrast to the glamor and spectacle of the Bond movies, Funeral in Berlin was shot on location on the streets and in the outskirts of Berlin, from the Tempelhof Airport to the cabaret district at night. Things were tenser when they shot near the heavily-patrolled Berlin Wall. "Every time we tried to film near the Wall, the Russians used to bring bright lights and mirrors out and shine them straight into the lenses," recalled Caine. When Harry crossed into East Germany through Checkpoint Charlie, the most heavily guarded route between East and West Berlin, the camera crew kept its distance, using a telephoto lens to shoot Caine's journey across the border. Holding the center, of course, is Caine's Harry Palmer, a man more comfortable hiring crooks to do his investigating than trusting the police or even fellow agents. He's smart, sardonic and a little insubordinate. Clad in horn-rimmed glasses and a rumpled overcoat rather than fitted suits and tuxedos, he looks nothing like the dashing spies in the Bond movie knock-offs. "There is only one other actor I would rather have had than Michael Caine to be my spy," said author Len Deighton. "That's Humphrey Bogart. And he's dead." Sources: The Elephant to Hollywood, Michael Caine. Henry Holt, 2010. Raising Caine, William Hall. Prentice-Hall, 1982. Man at the Wall, a short promotional documentary, no listed director. Paramount Pictures, 1966. IMDb By Sean Axmaker

Quotes

I wish to defect, but there are conditions.
- Colonel Stok
What do you want?
- Harry Palmer
I want colonel's pay for life.
- Colonel Stok
Don't we all.
- Harry Palmer
A house in the country.
- Colonel Stok
Do you play chess?
- Colonel Stok
Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating.
- Harry Palmer
And for you it is a propaganda victory -- my name is worth a headline.
- Colonel Stok
We get plenty of Russians. It's a pity you're not Chinese.
- Harry Palmer
She picked me up last night, and -- with my irrestible charm -- I want to know why, and who she's working for.
- Harry Palmer
Oh, by the way, is old Klaus Burger still alive?
- Harry Palmer
The forger?
- Police officer
Yeah, the forger.
- Harry Palmer
I'd like to run you out of Berlin, Palmer! You and MI5 and the Deuxieme Bureau and the CIA and the rest of them. Then I can do my job instead of providing work for every forger, confidence man, thief, and murderer in this town!
- Police officer
Oh, I agree, I agree, I agree. But... is old man Klaus still alive?
- Harry Palmer

Trivia

Notes

Locations filmed in Berlin. Released in Great Britain in 1967. Most sources credit Lowndes as production company. Jovera, S. A., is copyright claimant for film.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter December 22, 1966

Released in United States Winter December 22, 1966