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Berlin Express (1948) Poster

Trivia

The first Hollywood production in Germany after World War II.
Reinhold Schünzel, who plays Professor Walther in the film, was the director of the original 1933 German stage comedy Viktor and Viktoria (1933), which Blake Edwards later adapted as Victor/Victoria (1995), a vehicle for his wife Julie Andrews. Reinhold also appeared in the original Georg Wilhelm Pabst film of L'opéra de quat'sous (1931) with Lotte Lenya.
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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.)
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A studio reproduction of Paris' Gare de L'Est railway station was built for the picture.
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At the end of their bus ride through bombed-out Frankfurt, the main characters arrive at the massive I.G. Farben building. Completed in 1930, it was once the largest office building in Europe and home to the giant chemical business. From 1945 to 1952 it was the location of SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters, Allied European Forces). From 1952 to 1994 it was the headquarters of the U.S. Army's V Corps. In 1996 the building was acquired by the state of Hesse, and after a $25M renovation became the Westend Campus of the University of Frankfurt. The small, continuous elevators seen in the film, called paternoster lifts, are still in use.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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When the train pulls into Frankfurt (and throughout the film), one can observe members of the 709th Military Police Service Batalion. Formed in April of 1942, it landed in Normandy on D-Day in 1944. It was the first M.P. unit to reach Paris. It moved to Frankfurt in October, 1945. As of 2016, it is still and active unit of the U.S. Army, headquartered at Grafenwoehr, Bavaria, Germany.
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As the bus pulls away from the Frankfurt train station, one can see the facade of what remained of the Schumann Theater. It was heavily damaged by Allied bombing in March, 1944 and ceased to be used as a theater, but its beer cellar was used as a bomb shelter. In 1945 the U.S. Army took over what remained of the building - the foyer, bars and restaurants in front, and used them as recreational facilities for soldiers during the occupation. After the Army moved out, there were attempts to rebuild the theater, but all failed. It was torn down in 1960 to make way for an office building.
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Near the end of the film can be seen shots of the Adlon Hotel at 77 Unter den Linden, near the Brandenburg Gate. It opened in 1907 and survived the Allied bombings largely intact. In the film one can see the ground floor had been completely enclosed with bricks to protect guests from flying debris. It was used as a field hospital during the Battle of Berlin. However, early in May, 1945 it was almost completely destroyed by a fire accidentally set by occupying Russian soldiers. One wing of the hotel survived and was reopened. It was taken over by the East German government in the 1970s, and finally demolished in 1984. In 1997 a new Adlon Hotel was opened on the site, loosely modeled on the original.
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Merle Oberon was married to the cinematographer of the film, Oklahoma-born Lucien Ballard, at the time "Berlin Express" was made.
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Bert Granet first came up with the film's story after reading a Life magazine photo-essay about a Paris-to-Frankfurt-to-Berlin train.
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John Garfield was being "negotiated for" as the film's star.
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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.
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The film's Boston premiere benefited the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund, according to Hollywood Reporter.
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During location shooting, Col. George Eyster of the U.S. Army's public relations office served as liaison for the cast and crew.
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Cary Grant was considered to star.
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Bert 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.
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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.
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