Favorite Films Set in Berlin


As many readers may know, I have recently returned from a trip to London. A natural consequence of my excursions is a renewed wanderlust – no sooner am I back in the States am I contemplating my next trip.

After some deliberation and consideration I have decided on Central Europe. In anticipation of this trip, I have put together a list of my favorite films from each of the cities I plan to visit. Over the next several months I will compile lists of my favorite films from each of these locales.

The first location I will focus on is Berlin. The criteria I have used in the case of Berlin is a bit loose in that the film only needed to be set in Berlin and not necessarily shot there – although I think that at minimum that criteria is met.

Without further ado .. here are my SIX films (stills below):

M (Fritz Lang, 1931) German Expressionism at its finest.


A Foreign Affair (Billy Wilder, 1948) Fine example of what a romantic comedy should be. The film was principally shot in Soviet occupied zone (source: Wikipedia). Features one of my favorite leading ladies of the era, Jean Arthur.


The Big Lift (George Seaton, 1950) As the title suggests, the Big Lift  takes places during the Berlin Air Lift (1948-9). Shot on location in Berlin, really seems to capture the scale of devastation and the recovery efforts made post-war.


Torn Curtain (Alfred Hitchcock, 1966) While not one of his finest outings, there are some great set pieces. One that immediately springs to mind is the scene where Paul Newman and a civilian go about the very difficult task of killing a baddie. According to Hitchcock, he wanted to show just how difficult it is to kill someone. This also marks the one-time-only pairing of one of my favorite directors and actors (Newman).


Bourne Supremacy (Paul Greengrass, 2004) A frenetically paced spy-story. In many ways, breathed new life into a somewhat stale genre.


The Lives of Others or Das Leben der Anderen in German (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, 2006) Don’t know what to say about this film except that I really really liked it. It was my first glimpse into seeing what life in GDR was probably like.

What do you think of the list? Is there anything that you think I left out? And before anyone says Wings of Desire or Run Lola Run please note I have not seen either (I know, for shame!)


UPDATE: Honorable mention to The Edukators and The Baader Meinhof Complex


  1. Loved The Lives of Others, great film. I have seen that and The Bourne Supremacy sadly. Nice list!

  2. @Castor in doing my research I was surprised to learn that this was the debit for the director of the Lives of Others.

    In the last couple of years I have really tried to broaden my international film horizons and Germany is one of the regions that I had previously overlooked. But I have noticed that there is some interesting stuff that comes out of the country.

  3. Jack Deth says:

    Hi, iluv and all:

    Thanks for mentioning ‘The Baader Meinhof Complex’. A film that exposed a whole lot more than the media on either side of the ocean let on.

    Berlin has always been a city that looks it best at night. So with that thought in mind, I’ll suggest ‘Night People’ from 1954. A little known Cold War drama with Gregory Peck as an Army Intelligence officer/Provost Marshall on the West side of the Berlin Wall trying to get back a kidnapped kid of an industrial magnate with political connections played by Broderick Crawford. Its Berlin at night is as sharp and shadowy as James Wong Howe’s work in ‘Sweet Smell Of Success’.

    On a lighter note, I’d also select Billy Wilder’s ‘One, Two Three’ from 1961. With James Cagney as a Coca~Cola exec trying to open a market in East Berlin. Only to be undone by Horst Buchholz as a back sliding East German Communist. Who suddenly excels in Capitalism and romancing Cagney’s daughter.

  4. I’m surprised Wings of Desire isn’t on this list! It’s pure Berlin-porn. I also second The Baader Meinhof Complex. What a terrific film.

    • HI. Wings of Desire did not make the cut because – (for shame) – I have not seen it in its entirety.
      I am quite positive that it would make the list if I had seen it. I never really got into German cinema (esp contemporary) until recently. I have a lot of catching up to do 🙂


  1. […] In my previous installment in which I list my favorite movies in locations I will soon be traveling to, I ran off a few films that are based in Berlin. […]

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