The Big Lift (1950)    2 Stars

“From the Ruins came Hope and Despair.”

The Big Lift (1950)
The Big Lift (1950)


Director: George Seaton

Cast: Montgomery Clift, Paul Douglas, Cornell Borchers

Synopsis: Experiences of two Air Force sergeants during the 1948 Berlin Airlift.






George Seaton’s The Big Lift takes place during the Berlin Airlift of the late 1940s, and was filmed on the streets of Berlin, which were still largely rubble-strewn wastelands even five years after the end of WWII. The film is heavily propagandistic, calling on the American people to cut the Germans a little slack now the war was over. Messages about the Russkies are a little mixed: while they’re obviously responsible for the blockade, the Russian spy in the movie is actually a highly likeable chap who prevents one of our heroes from doing something he would undoubtedly later regret.

The story is actually more accessible than might be expected, given that it was made when the events it depicted were still fresh in the general public’s mind. It even manages to inject some decent humour throughout. The scene in which the aforementioned Russian spy cheerfully discloses to a US airman played by Monty Clift (The Heiress) about how the Russian spy system works is a minor classic. Paul Douglas plays Clift’s friend, and between them the two airmen present opposite ends of the spectrum in relation to the allies attitudes towards the defeated German people. In the end, they kind of have a meeting of minds somewhere in the middle.

(Reviewed 21st February 2012)

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