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Berlin Express

Berlin Express(1948)

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The opening credits contain the following written statement: "Actual scenes in Frankfurt and Berlin were photographed by authorization of The United States Army of Occupation, The British Army of Occupation, The Soviet Army of Occupation." Contemporary news items add the following information about the production: In late 1946, producer Bert Granet spent six weeks in Germany and France taking 16mm footage to use as a "reference point" in the writing of the film's script. "On-the-spot" exteriors, which included the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichschancellerie and the Hotel Adlon, were taken in Berlin and also in Paris. News items also note that the picture's crew was the first to receive permission to film in Berlin's Russian zone. (At the time of this production, Berlin was divided into three separate sectors, which were controlled by the English, Russian and American armed forces.)
       In June 1947, Hollywood Reporter announced that John Garfield was being "negotiated for" as the film's star. Once shooting was completed in Europe in early September 1947, Hollywood production was delayed for several weeks because director Jacques Tourneur had difficulty getting an airplane out of Paris, and Merle Oberon suffered a fractured jaw. A studio reproduction of Paris' Gare de L'Est railway station was built for the picture. [Modern sources note that night-for-night exteriors were filmed at the actual station.] Although Hollywood Reporter reported in mid-October 1947 that Charles O'Curran was to stage a dance routine for the beer hall sequence, no routine was seen in the viewed print and O'Curran is not credited on screen. In early Hollywood Reporter production charts, William Dorfman, who is credited onscreen as "assistant to the producer," is listed as assistant director. Nate Levinson is listed as assistant director in later production charts. Reviewers commented on the picture's realistic, documentary-like depiction of post-war Germany, and its use of non-translated French and German dialogue. According to New York Herald Tribune, Major Edward C. Wilson and Private James B. Grundy of the British Army had parts in the picture, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. The film's Boston premiere benefitted the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund, according to Hollywood Reporter.
       An August 1997 American Cinematographer article adds the following information about the production: Granet first came up with the film's story after reading a Life magazine photo-essay about a Paris-to-Frankfurt-to-Berlin train. During location shooting, Col. George Eyster of the U.S. Army's public relations office served as liaison for the cast and crew. American soldiers stationed at the I. G. Farben munitions building in Salzburg, which deliberately was left untouched during bombing raids so that the U.S. could use it as an occupation headquarters, appeared as themselves in the film. Granet originally planned to shoot interiors in French studios, but because of fluctuations in the value of the franc, was forced to use RKO's Path Studios in Culver City.