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Film / Funeral in Berlin

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Funeral in Berlin is a 1966 film based on the spy novel by Len Deighton. It is the second of the Harry Palmer series starring Michael Caine, 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:

  • Checkpoint Charlie: The defector gets smuggled by faking his death and being taken across the Berlin Wall in a coffin. The idea has been reused several times, such as in the TV series Jason King and MacGyver.
  • The Chessmaster: 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.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After coming to from getting knocked out, the first thing Palmer asks for is a brandy.
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  • MacGuffin
  • No Name Given: Harry Palmer is not his real name.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Harry Palmer, as befitting a spy.
  • The Pub Schlub Seduction Technique: Harry Palmer is picked up by a beautiful young woman - who is later revealed to be an Israeli agent - in a West Berlin bar and invited back to her flat. He goes along with it but is not convinced for a moment that her motives are genuine, telling his German contact that "she picked me up last night, and - with my irresistible charm - I want to know why, and who she's working for." Despite his suspicions, she still manages to distract him long enough for her associates to search his hotel room.
  • Ransacked Room: Harry Palmer and Samantha Steele return to her apartment to find it ransacked and her mother's pearls missing.
  • Same Language Dub: Eva Renzi was dubbed by Nikki Van der Zyl, while David Glover was dubbed by Dinsdale Landen.
  • Saved By The Coffin: This is supposed to be the method by which an East German defector is to be smuggled to the west; but the whole thing is a Soviet setup to catch the ones who smuggle out defectors.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: We're introduced to Harry Palmer in his flat and a random girl is wearing one of his shirts.
  • 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.
  • Take It to the Bridge: Glienicke Bridge is featured prominentely.
  • Tap on the Head: Vulkan knocks Harry out with a wrench.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Harry, at least for a while. But nowhere near as long as the other factions think.


Example of: