The Big Lift

The Big Lift

name =The Big Lift

producer = William Perlberg
writer = George Seaton
starring = Montgomery Clift
Paul Douglas
Cornell Borchers
Bruni Lobel
O.E. Hasse
director = George Seaton
editing =
distributor = Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
released = April 26, 1950
runtime = 2 Hrs.
language = English
imdb_id = 0042249
music = Alfred Newman
awards = Nominated for Golden Globe in 1951 for "Best Film Promoting International Understanding"
budget =

"The Big Lift" is a 1950 film that was shot on location in the city of Berlin, Germany, and tells the story of two Air Force sergeants (played by Montgomery Clift and Paul Douglas) who meet and fall in love with two women in Berlin during the 1948/1949 Berlin Air Lift.

The film was directed and written by George Seaton, and was released April 26, 1950, less than one year after the Soviet blockade of Berlin was lifted and the air lift operations ceased. Because the film was shot in Berlin in 1949, it provides a unique glimpse of the post-war state of the city as it struggles to recover from the devastation wrought by World War II.


The story begins at the start of the Berlin Airlift, as American and British air forces began air-lifting food, fuel and other supplies from West Germany into Berlin. Danny MacCullough (Clift) and Henry "Hank" Kowalski (Douglas) are assigned to fly together in the air lift. Hank, who was tortured during the war, has openly mixed feelings about helping in the cause.

During a public relations event staged at the Tempelhof Airport in the American sector, MacCullough meets an attractive German woman, Frederica Burkhardt (Borchers). She offers to show him around Berlin some time when he gets a day off. To her surprise, MacCullough shows up at her work "address", where she is separating usable bricks from rubble on the streets of Berlin. During the tour of the city, they get stuck at the border between West and East Berlin without proper papers, and escape when the incident becomes comically bungled by the authorities.

Meanwhile, Hank has also met a woman, Gerda (Lobel). He doesn't treat her particularly well, and has contempt for most Berliners.

Ultimately, McCullough proposes to Frederica, and she accepts. Soon after, however, he learns that she is not truly in love with him, but is just looking for a way to get to America. The two go their separate ways. Hank, on the other hand, finds that he is in love with Gerda, and decides to stay in Berlin.

Of interest to accuracy buffs, the actual Air Traffic Control system was modeled for the film, and you get to experience the flights with a taste of the various frustrations they experienced while in the air, including being buzzed by Russian fighters while in formation.

Cast and crew

Main cast

*Montgomery Clift as flyboy Danny MacCullough
*Paul Douglas as Henry "Hank" Kowalski
*Cornell Borchers as Frederica Burkhardt
*Bruni Lobel as Gerda, Hank's girlfriend


*"Directed by:" George Seaton
*"Written by:" George Seaton
*"Produced by:" William Perlberg
*"Music by:" Alfred Newman


Minor military roles were portrayed by actual military personnel stationed in Berlin.


External links

*imdb title|id=0042249|title=The Big Lift
* [ The Big Lift] at [ Rotten Tomatoes.Com]

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