Funeral in Berlin (film)

Funeral in Berlin is a 1966 British spy film directed by Guy Hamilton and based on the novel of the same name by Len Deighton. It is the second of three 1960s films starring Michael Caine as the character Harry Palmer that followed the characters from the initial film, The Ipcress File (1965). The third film was Billion Dollar Brain (1967).

Funeral in Berlin
UK theatrical release poster
Directed byGuy Hamilton
Produced byCharles D. Kasher
Written byLen Deighton (novel)
Evan Jones (screenplay)
Music byKonrad Elfers
CinematographyOtto Heller
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • 22 December 1966 (1966-12-22) (US)
  • 23 February 1967 (1967-02-23) (UK)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom


British secret agent Harry Palmer is sent to Berlin by his superior Colonel Ross to arrange the defection of Colonel Stok, a prominent Soviet intelligence officer. Palmer is sceptical but links up with Johnny Vulkan, an old German friend and former criminal associate, who now runs the Berlin station for British intelligence.

Palmer makes a rendezvous with Stok in the Soviet zone of the divided city and finds him eccentric and likeable. Stok asks for the defection to be managed by Otto Kreutzmann, a West German criminal who has organised a number of recent escapes. When Palmer returns to the western sector he meets a model who calls herself Samantha Steel, with whom he spends the night. Suspicious at the forward manner in which she approached him, he has his police contacts establish her identity the following day and arranges for a criminal to burgle her apartment, where several different false passports are discovered.

Meanwhile, Palmer arranges a deal with Kreutzmann to bring Stok across the wall for £20,000. Palmer then returns to London to report. Ross is convinced that Stok's defection is genuine and dismisses Palmer's suspicions that the model he met in Berlin was a spy. Ross gives full authorisation for Palmer to return to Berlin to complete the deal, with documents and money provided by a man at Intelligence headquarters named Hallam.

The plan devised by Kreutzmann is to arrange a burial and bring the Colonel across the border in a coffin. When Palmer again meets Samantha, she admits that she is a Mossad spy and that she is in Berlin to hunt down a war criminal named Paul Louis Broum – now operating under an alias – who stole millions of pounds of gold during the Second World War.

Kreutzmann goes over to the east to supervise the defection personally in view of its importance. Palmer waits with Kreutzmann's henchman on the western side of the border, where the coffin is delivered to an abandoned warehouse. When it is opened, however, Palmer finds the dead body of Kreutzmann. Palmer is knocked unconscious by Vulkan, who gets hold of the Broum documents that were included as part of the deal but is held up by Samantha and two other Israeli agents who take away the papers.

When Palmer informs Colonel Ross about the Broum documents, he is told that towards the end of the war, Paul Louis Broum murdered a resistance fighter called Johnny Vulkan at a concentration camp and assumed his identity. Ross got hold of the documents and used them to blackmail Broum into working for him. He now orders Palmer to kill Broum, but Palmer allows him to get away instead. Palmer later meets Stok, who is in West Berlin for a routine meeting with his Western counterparts. The Russian confirms that his supposed defection was just a trap to get rid of Kreutzmann. He even jokes that if Palmer ever wishes to defect to the East, he should ask Vulkan, who "knows the way".

Meanwhile, the supposed Vulkan goes to Samantha's flat, murders an Israeli agent and gets the documents back, but when he meets with Hallam they discover that they are forgeries. Hallam goes to Palmer, saying that he has been sent by Ross to get the real documents back. Palmer forces him to admit that he is in league with Broum to get them out of London and they now intend to use them in order to claim the Nazi loot that Broum deposited in a Swiss bank.

Palmer makes Hallam go with him to a quiet part of the Berlin wall through which Broum and Hallam intend to slip into the East, but Broum kills Hallam and is subsequently killed by the Israeli agents tailing Palmer. Back in London, Ross is satisfied that the dead Vulkan will be taken for another martyr shot while escaping to the West. Offered a bonus for his work, Palmer refuses and leaves.



In a short documentary film entitled "Man at the Wall: The Making of Funeral in Berlin" produced by Paramount Pictures about the production of the movie, Michael Caine says that director Guy Hamilton – who directed Goldfinger and three later James Bond features – would make on-set improvisations to the script based on his own personal experiences working for British military intelligence during World War

DVD release

Funeral in Berlin was released as a Region 1 DVD on 14 August 2001.

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