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Decision Before Dawn  /  Berlin Express

Berlin Express
July 20, 2019 - 7:30 pm
author Daniel Steinhart.

Decision Before Dawn  (1952)

Many of Hollywood’s postwar films that were shot in Germany examined how the United States should deal with its wartime enemies. Anatole Litvak, a Ukrainian-born Jewish director who had worked in Germany prior to coming to Hollywood, addresses this concern with the story of a German prisoner of war who is recruited by American forces to carry out a spy mission behind enemy lines. Realistically shot on location among Germany’s ruins by Franz Planer, another Jewish exile of the German movie industry, the film is a tense morality tale of courage and dissent.

35mm, b/w, 120 min. Director: Anatole Litvak. Screenwriter: Peter Viertel. Cast: Richard Basehart, Gary Merrill, Oskar Werner.

Berlin Express  (1948)

In one of the first Hollywood productions to shoot in Germany after the war, a trans-European express train becomes a microcosm for the politics of war-ravaged Europe as an unlikely group of allies come together to protect the life of a respected peacemaker. Director Jacques Tourneur demonstrates his knack for intrigue while cinematographer Lucien Ballard renders real locations in Paris, Frankfurt and Berlin with noir atmospherics. The film is a striking document of war’s devastation and an allegory of postwar cooperation.

35mm, b/w, 86 min. Director: Jacques Tourneur. Screenwriter: Harold Medford. Cast: Merle Oberon, Robert Ryan, Charles Korvin.