The Big Lift Reviews
Montgomery Clift (T/Sgt. Danny MacCullogh) and Paul Douglas (M/Sgt. Hank Kowalski) play US Air Force crewmen reassigned from their posts in Hawaii and ordered to the stint in Germany. It is Douglas' character who is reluctant to go, as he harbors a deep rooted resentment for Germans. The reason for this resentment is revealed as the story progresses. While in Germany, MacCullough meets and becomes involved with a german woman, Frederika (Cornell Borchers) whose husband has been missing ever since he was assigned to the Russian Front. This relationship will undergo a few interesting twists along the way...
I've seen other films which depict life in post-war German (namely, Billy Wilder's 1948 film A FOREIGN AFFAIR), but THE BIG LIFT has a grittier feel because of it's lower budget. There is also a strong documentary feel to it - especially in the 1st half of the film. History and aviation buffs can watch footage of the C-57 cargo planes flying over war damaged Berlin. There is great footage of the planes landing at Tempelhof and Rhein-Main airbases - sweeping precariously just above the buildings before touching down on the runway.
The director George Seaton (Miracle on 34th Street) comes close to making a full blown pro USA propaganda flick but I give him credit for reeling the hokum in a bit by at least acknowledging - yeah, there are some faults. The dialogue is infused with some interesting political banter between the US crewmen and the german women. MacCullough also meets up with a man living in Frederika's tenement building, Steiber (O.E.Hasse) who works as a spy for the Russians. Steiber reveals to MacCullogh, in an amusing bit of dialogue, the art of cold-war spycraft to come.
All in all - not bad....the drama especially, builds nicely (in regards to Montgomery Clift's character) in the second half of the flick.
8 / 10
Filmed on location, The Big Lift is a reenactment of the Berlin airlift of 1948. Flexing their postwar muscles, the Russians blockade the Western sector, refusing to allow the Allies to ship supplies to the starving Berliners. From their headquarters at Templehof Airport, a group of courageous American flyers risk their lives to transport supplies by air. Paul Douglas plays a ground operations sergeant with several scores to settle (he had a hard time of it as a POW during the war), while Montgomery Clift costars as a pilot who inaugurates a doomed love affair with German girl Cornell Borchers.
Good war flick.