The Big Lift (1950)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB

USA, 1950.  .  Screenplay by George Seaton.  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by , .  

Following the second World War, Russia’s blockade of Berlin cuts off its access to the outside world, prompting the Allies to airlift food and medical supplies into the city despite the dangers involved. Two of the pilots who come on a convoy manage to get access to the city, one of them (Montgomery Clift) having an adventurous day with a war widow () and the other () developing a harsh relationship with a Berlin woman that is hampered by his own personal hatred of Germans (he was in a POW camp during the war). Although the screenplay is uneven (the airplane scenes at the beginning and end are completely at odds with the romance in the middle), the film is a great showcase for Clift’s shockingly natural talents as a performer, and the relationship he develops with Borchers is palpably affectionate. A silly twist in the last third is an unfortunate letdown, but otherwise the film, while not always captivating, does feature some great dialogue and character situations that will remain long after the effect of the story does. Even more amazing, director George Seaton filmed all the location shots with the cast in all sectors of occupied Berlin, while Clift and Douglas are the only professional actors playing the American soldiers in the film, all the rest played by members of the American Air Force; the film benefits greatly from this added sense of realism.

Golden Globe Award Nomination:  Best Film Promoting International Understanding


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