"I served as an army intelligence officer in Berlin and in West Germany during the Cold War. Whenever I'm feeling nostalgic and I want to time-travel back to the Cold War 1960's, I turn on Funeral In Berlin. The film has wonderful shots of the Berlin Wall and West Berlin during this time. Michael Caine's Harry Palmer is a mirror image of thousands of intelligence personnel who have had to battle incompetent bureacracy while still trying to accomplish the mission at hand. Watch this one!"
Harry Palmer: The Spy Who Went Into the Cold
John Dziadecki | Louisville, CO USA | 09/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Each of these films is a self-contained story but having seen the previous entries does give the central character more depth. "The Ipcress File" introduced Len Deighton's spy with no name as "Harry Palmer" -- a gritty, workaday operative for the British Secret Service -- the polar opposite from James Bond.
(This is even more interesting when you realize the producer of the two series is Harry Saltzman. And the director here is Guy Hamilton who helmed "Goldfinger".)
Michael Caine returns in this excellent second installment of the "Harry Palmer" series. The scene is Berlin in the early 1960s at the height of the Cold War. The Berlin Wall was a recent division. The tension between the US and the CCCP caused global anxiety. To see this film is to get something of a feel for the place and the time. The espionage here is thick and the tension is palpable. A series of double crosses lands Palmer in serious trouble. Whereas "Ipcress" had psychological underpinnings, "Funeral" is more personal and more down to earth. A story well told.
And yes, film makers once again take liberties with Deighton's fine books. The author's novel is richer in detail, movement across Europe and character development. Think of this as an abridgement -- a very good abridgement. Otherwise the film would be four hours long.
I wish the producers could have retained John Barry for the score but Konrad Elfers does a fine job and I'm happy to have a CD of his score. The visual framing favored by Sidney J. Furie for "Ipcress" was brilliant. Apparently the producer didn't care for it so Guy Hamilton's "Funeral" lacks those compositions but cinematographer Otto Heller, who worked on "Ipcress" as well, does a very good job here and manages to inject some visual flair now and then that ties the two films together.
The Paramount DVD is worlds better than the previously available VHS. Finally, the original widescreen aspect ratio -- 2:35:1 -- is retained and we no longer have to deal with truncated and/or pan & scan images that result in the dreaded "talking noses syndrome" or distracting cross cuts.
The original release was mono and that's what we have here. Although both "Ipcress" and "Funeral" would benefit from a 5.1 remix the mono sound here is quite good.
Extras? At the premium price Paramount set for this release you would have thought there would be extras. Sorry, no extras. Just be glad we have the film, which brings us to the next topic.
Available once more! Paramount had let this one go out of print ... in the US. This marked up the private seller price ripping off fans trying to find a copy. It was cheaper to buy a region-free player and order a copy from Amazon UK than it was to ferret out a used copy at that popular auction website. But relax, it's back in print.
"Funeral in Berlin" is a keeper.
Michael Caine as Harry Palmer returns in the next installment, Ken Russel's film: "The Billion Dollar Brain".
PS: If you want an even darker, noir-like film set in the same time and place, Richard Burton as "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" is depressing and absolutely brilliant.
PPS: "The Quiller Memorandum", a fine cold war spy film, is now available on DVD."
Specs,sex,and the Berlin Wall
Scott Copeland | Panama Ciy, Fl United States | 08/18/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Len Deighton's working class spy Harry Palmer returns to DVD in the second installment of the series,"Funeral in Berlin".Palmer was created by Deighton as a sort of anti-Bond in a series of books with plots more coplicated than the wiring on a British sports car,Palmer was insolent,insubordinant,and only survived by his wits and intelligence,with nary a gadget in sight."Funeral in Berlin" was the second in the series,and most spy fans consider it the best of them,pretty much neck and neck with the outstanding "Ipcress File".The DVD looks pretty good,the picture and sound are certainly watchable considering the age of the movies,It's also nice to see the movies in their OAR,both movies used the widescreen format pretty creatively,and suffered from being "panned and scanned".Unfortuneatly,"Funeral" doesn't have the excellent extra's "Ipcress" did,the only extra is the trailer.Still,it's an entertaining DVD,both Michael Caine(Palmer) and Oscar Homolka(Col Strok) give great performances,and Eva Renzi is certainly easy on the eyes.The great Guy Doleman returns from "Ipcress",albeit n a smaller role.It would be hard to discuss the plot without giving too much,but suffice to say,in Harry Palmer's world,nothing goes as planned,and nothing is as it seems.The film also does a nice job of portraying Berlin when it was still fragmented by the wall.All in all,viewer's looking for a cerebral spy thriller with no explosions and gunfights will enjoy Deighton's byzantine plot.Mention should also be made again of Oscar Holmoka's amazing performance,it's really worth the price of the DVD alone.You just don't see faces like that in movies(well,maybe on "The Soprano's").An although Caine became something of a joke in the 70's and 80's,he always made a good Harry Palmer."
Good Spy Story
Mark Stewart | Jacksonville, FL USA | 12/18/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you have ever worked for a government bureaucracy and you keep up with history and current evets, this movie will bear out greater believeability than the more popular blockbuster spy movies. Got to be watching it for the story itself, though ( there are NO massive explosions, intense car chases, hot sex scenes, etc.)"
The Anti-James Bond Returns
D. S. Thurlow | Alaska | 04/21/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1966's "Funeral in Berlin", his second outing as British anti-hero spy Harry Palmer, Michael Caine is in complete command of both his character and the movie. Len Deighton's novel of the Cold War in Berlin is brought to gritty life in a city newly divided by a wall and fought over by the Russians, the West, and the Germans themselves. The plot twists and turns, the dialogue is crisp, and the acting is understated but very solid.
Harry Palmer is asked to assess the proffered defection of a Russian KBG Colonel named Stok, who regards Palmer as both adversary and comrade-in-arms in the spy business. Their dialogue is a masterpiece of Cold War cynicism. Stok asks Palmer to use a German network with an unusually good record for spiriting people out of East Germany; this choice will have fateful consequences. Palmer also comes into contact with an old friend who owes his freedom to Harry but may have ulterior motives for a deal. Finally, Palmer becomes the object of desire for a beautiful woman who not surprisingly turns out to have an agenda of her own. The whole makes for a complicated plot and a cheerfully cynical but entertaining look at the spy business of the early 1960's.
This movie is highly recommended to fans of Michael Caine, who excells in his role as working class spy Harry Palmer. This movie will also appeal to fans of Len Deighton's novels; this is a better than average adaptation."