Film / Funeral in Berlin

Funeral in Berlin is a 1966 film based on the spy novel by Len Deighton. It is the second of the Harry Palmer series, following The IPCRESS File and itself followed by The Billion Dollar Brain.

Colonel Stok, a Soviet intelligence officer responsible for security at the Berlin Wall, appears to want to defect, but the evidence is contradictory. Stok wants the British to handle his defection and asks for one of their agents, Harry Palmer, to smuggle him out of East Germany.

Once Palmer reaches Berlin, though, things quickly become much more complicated as at least two other factions become involved in what was meant to be a simple operation - a beautiful young woman who turns out to be Israeli intelligence and an old acquaintance of Harry's who turns out to be an ex-Nazi under an assumed name.

Funeral in Berlin contains examples of:

  • The Berlin Wall: The titular funeral is the method of getting Stok across the Wall safely. German gangster and escape maestro Kreutzmann even has a lookalike East German pensioner killed and organizes a fake "relative" in the West to claim the body. Long story short, it was all a Soviet ploy to expose Kreutzmann, and when the coffin is opened in the West, it's him in it - dead - instead of the Colonel. Also significant for being shot on location. Wall guards in East Germany kept shining lights at the camera trying to ruin their filming.
  • The Chess Master: Harry Palmer
  • Deadpan Snarker: Harry Palmer.
  • The Film of the Book
  • Gambit Pileup: British Intelligence, a Russian General, Mossad and a Nazi war criminal are all trying to stay a step ahead of each other. Harry Palmer, the supposed Unwitting Pawn to everyone involved, was actually ahead of them from quite early on.
  • Half Way Plot Switch: The funeral happens at the halfway point of the film - the rest of the film deals with the revelation that Vulkan is the mysterious ex-Nazi Broum, and his conflict with the Israelis.
  • MacGuffin
  • No Name Given: Harry Palmer is not his real name.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Harry Palmer, as befitting a spy.
  • Spy Fiction: Quintessential Stale Beer. Long coats, morally iffy actions and backstabbing in the bombed-out ruins of Berlin - yup, it's definitely dirty 60s spy fiction.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Harry, at least for a while. But nowhere near as long as the other factions think.