“The Big Lift” - Berlin Cold War Military Adventure
released on April 26, 1950
running time 1 hour and 59 minutes
The Actors: Montgomery Clift (Sergeant First Class Dany MacCullough), Paul Douglas (Master Sergeant Henry 'Hank' Kowalski), Cornell Borchers (Frederica Burkhardt), Bruni Lobel (Gerda), O.E. Hasse (Stieber), Dante V. Morel (himself, Captain Dante Morel), John R. Mason (himself, Captain John Mason), Gail R. Plush (himself, Captain Gail Plush), Mack Blevins (himself, Captain Mack Blevins), William A. Stewart (himself, Captain William Stewart), Alfred L. Freiburger (himself, First Lieutenant Alfred Freiburger), Gerald Arons (himself, First Lieutenant Gerald Arons), James Wilson (himself, First Lieutenant James Wilson), Richard A. Kellogg (himself, First Lieutenant Richard Kellogg), Roy R. Steele (himself, First Lieutenant Roy Steele), James H. Blankenship (himself, Staff Sergeant James Blankenship), Harold E. Bamford (himself, Staff Sergeant Harold Bamford), D.R. Simmons (himself, Staff Sergeant D.R. Simmons), O.B. Schultz (himself, Sergeant O.B. Schultz)
The Russian Seige of Berlin vs the Big Easy 37
At the end of World War Two Germany was occupied by Britain, France, Russia and the U.S. In 1948 Russia decided that it wanted to own and control all of Germany and tried to persuade Britain, France and the U.S. to leave. It did this by setting siege to Berlin. The Russians encircled the city and cut the rail lines, roads and river into the city, trying to starve the citizens of Berlin into submission.
Britain, France and the U.S. responded by sending supplies into Berlin the only way possible – by airplane. The U.S. effort was named ‘Operation Vittles’ and the Americans landed a cargo plane full of food and supplies every three minutes around the clock.
When the Russians were forced to abandon their siege of Berlin, movie maker William Perlberg gathered a movie crew and hired Paul Douglas and Montgomery Clift to go to Germany to film the story of the city of Berlin and the amazing airlift. The film crew arrived before the airlift was ended, so this story shows actual C-54 cargo planes taking off and landing with supplies for the city of Berlin.
Besides Paul Douglas and Montgomery Clift, there are two German actresses and one German actor. All of the military men and reporters and other characters in the story are themselves, real soldiers, sailors and foreign war correspondents and citizens of Berlin that were there at the time. All of the scenes were filmed on the streets of Berlin in 1949, no sound stages or constructed film scenes were used.
The emotions and attitudes of the soldiers and the Germans they encounter seem to be real, raw, unvarnished and as honest as any movie story about real events could ever be. Montgomery Clift’s scenes were filmed first because he had to return quickly to the U.S. to begin filming his famous performance in “A Place in the Sun.” Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.
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