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Funeral in Berlin (DVD)

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Genre: Action & Adventure / Theatrical Release: 1967 / Parental Guidance / Director: Guy Hamilton / Actors: Michael Caine, Paul Hubschmid, Oskar Homolka, Eva Renzi, Guy Doleman ... / DVD released 2005-01-01 at Paramount Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL

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      20.05.2010 12:18
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      An underrated spy thriller that actually rivals most Bond films for plot and character.

      Funeral in Berlin is the excellent sequel to 1965's The Ipcress File, and once again has Michael Caine as the ever insubordinate spy Harry Palmer. Funeral in Berlin was also adapted from the Len Deighton spy novel of the same name, and in many ways this has a more believable plot that you can relate to. It also has some wonderful characterization, and some innovative and believable action.

      We start on the East side of the Berlin wall, where a man is laying mines near the wall. Suddenly, a tub attached to a crane lands, and he makes a run for it, covering himself in the tub. There is shooting from the East German soldiers, but they can't hit the man in the tub. He is brought over to the West side of the wall, and it turns out that he is a defector who has managed to escape. As everyone cheers, a man called Kreuzman drives off. He was the architect of the plan.

      In London, Harry Palmer is just getting up on a Saturday morning. The phone starts to ring and he answers it. He is then told that he needs to go to a meeting with his boss, Colonel Ross, at midday.

      Arriving at Colonel Ross' house, he is told that the Secret Service have learnt that a Russian Colonel, Colonel Stock of the KGB, wants to defect and has contacted them. Harry is told he is going to Berlin to find out whether the offer is genuine.

      He arrives in Berlin and meets a man called Johnny Vulcan. He and Johnny go to the wall and Harry goes over. He is then taken to see Colonel Ross (played by the scene stealing Oskar Homolka), who tells him that he wants to defect and that he wants Kreuzman to do the job.

      Harry has to obey orders and help Colonel Stock, but suspects that there is something wrong with Colonel Stock's offer. He also discovers that he has been marked and is being followed by a woman. Soon, he finds out that Colonel Stock has his own plan, and that he can't even trust those around him because they are all up to something. This leads to a clever climax, with plenty of thrills and twists along the way.

      I personally think that this is an underrated spy thriller. It has a very clever plot that is much more believable than The Ipcress File, and it has some interesting locations. There is plenty of action in this film, from the moment the first man escapes to the final showdown at the end.

      Michael Caine is brilliant as Harry Palmer, and acts with so much insubordination that you really find yourself rooting for him. Guy Doleman adds brilliant support as Colonel Ross, the no nonsense boss. But the man who steals this is Oskar Homolka, who really is a joy to watch as Colonel Stock. His character is actually one of the best acted and best written in film, and it's almost a shame that we don't see enough of him.

      All in all, though it's not quite as tight as The Ipcress File, this is a very good spy thriller with a brilliant and subtle plot, some wonderful characters and a great twist. Very underrated.

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