The Big Lift
The Western Allies face-off against the Russians in Berlin
In June 1948 in one of the first confrontations in the Cold War, the Soviets cut land supply routes to the Allied sectors of West Berlin, which was deep in the Russian controlled Eastern Zone in occupied Germany. In a test of wills, the Soviets thought they could starve the Allies out of the city.
In response the Western Powers organized the massive Berlin airlift to carry supplies through narrow air corridors. This film is remarkable on several levels. Outside of the two leading roles, ably played by actors Montgomery Clift & Paul Douglas, the other uniformed parts are played by US servicemen who actually performed them at the time. The film was shot entirely on location in Berlin, including Soviet sectors of the city. It gives a unique "you are there" view of the early days of the reconstruction & daily life in the bombed out capital. This gritty film literally pulls no punches in depicting the challenges, to the point of physical violence, when Americans and Germans, recently bitter enemies, were thrown together by the new reality of post war Europe.
Aircrews from the United States Air Force, British Royal Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force and South African Air Force flew over 200,000 flights in one year, providing up to 4700 tons of necessities daily, including fuel and food, to the Berliners. Much to the chagrin of the Russians, by April, 1949 the airlift was delivering more cargo than had previously been transported into the city by rail. The blockade was lifted in May 1949.--
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