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The Man Between

(1953 b 102')

En: 6 Ed: 6

Directed by Carol Reed, a British woman visits Berlin and meets a charming East German who wants to go to the West, and he helps her get out of the East.

         Susanne Mallison (Claire Bloom) arrives in Berlin on a plane and is met by her brother’s wife Bettina Mallison (Hildegard Knef), who brings her home. Martin Mallison (Geoffrey Toone) comes in wearing an army uniform. They go out, and Bettina intentionally spills a glass so that she can step out. They leave and see three cars in a chase.

         At night Susanne sees Bettina contact a boy on a bicycle. The next day Bettina takes Susanne into East Berlin. The boy on the bicycle sees them and makes a phone call. Ivo Kern (James Mason) joins them at a table. He offers to be a guide for Susanne. Martin is a doctor, and Susanne visits him at work. At home she finds Ivo with Bettina, and he asks Susanne out. They go dancing, and Halendar (Aribert Waescher) joins them at their table; but they soon leave. Susanne asks Ivo to leave Bettina alone, and he sends her home in a cab.

         On the street the boy leads Susanne to Ivo, who says she was right. He says he is planning to leave Berlin. At home Martin wraps the hand of Olaf Kastner (Ernst Shroeder) with a bandage. Bettina cautions Susanne about seeing Ivo too much. Susanne and Ivo go ice skating, and Halendar tells Ivo that one of their dogs bit Kastner. Halendar shows Ivo a report on Ivo’s activities in Berlin. Ivo tells Susanne he can get out of the East, and Kastner could help him. They come back late, and Ivo tells her he should leave Berlin soon. Bettina does not want them to call Kastner. Bettina is angry and says that Ivo is a kidnapper. She says she was married to Ivo and had not seen him since 1943. She says that Kastner was working for the East. The three talk to Kastner, and Inspector Kleiber (Karl John) asks Susanne to help them. She talks to Ivo on the phone and agrees to meet him. Martin tells Bettina they are not really married. Susanne says Ivo is not coming because the boy spied for him. Martin asks Bettina to marry him again.

         Susanne goes out in the snow, and she is forced into a car and taken to the East. Ivo laughs because Halendar kidnapped the wrong woman. Ivo says Halendar is trying to get Kastner. Ivo tells Halendar he can take the girl back for him. Halendar tells Susanne that he wants to help her get out of there. She asks who he wants, but he won’t let her go yet. Halendar leaves, and Ivo tells Susanne that Halendar made a blunder and that he is not the government but a gangster. Ivo says he has to prove himself and that getting her out would help him.

         Ivo and Susanne attend the opera. Halendar has men waiting for Kastner. Halendar has Ivo and Susanne leave. As they walk, Ivo instructs her when to go. The opera ends, and people come out. Halendar’s men get in a car with Ivo and Susanne, and they take off, followed by another car. Ivo throws metal spikes on the road, and the car following is disrupted. At the border Ivo has them turn around and go to another gate. Ivo and Susanne get out to take the train. They walk on opposite sides of the street. Ivo takes her to the boy’s mother, and they get a motorbike. Ivo and Susanne have a friendly talk. Ivo tells her to smash a machine while he distracts the worker. A man steals the motorbike. Ivo has her take an elevator. Police are searching. Ivo goes through a fence and runs off, meeting her on a roof. Ivo sends the boy to tell her brother to bring a car to pick her up. She says the boy likes Ivo. She asks if he is in love with Bettina, and he says he has forgotten. They hide from the police and run into an apartment with a woman. Ivo gives her money. She has Ivo go out the window on a ledge, and she puts a robe on Susanne. A policeman comes in and goes out. Halendar comes in, sees Susanne, and goes out too. Ivo climbs back in. Susanne gives the woman a ring, and she leaves them there for the night. Susanne asks Ivo if he did bad things, and he says he did. Ivo says he was a lawyer and then a soldier for Germany. He admits he would have left her to get out, and she says he is cold. She offers to help him in the West and caresses him. He kisses her.

         The boy gives his message to Martin, Bettina, and Kastner, who says he will go. In the morning Ivo sees the boy, and they go with Kastner in the back of a truck. She speaks of their honeymoon. Ivo says she knows nothing, but she says she knows what she likes. At the gate when they are about to be searched, Ivo jumps out and tells them to drive on. Susanne sees Ivo being shot and killed as the truck takes her safely into West Berlin.

         This tense drama reflects the divided world of the cold war in a city ruined by World War II. Many in the East want to get to the West. An English woman learns about an intelligent man who was caught up in the German war machine and then in the clandestine world of the cold war.

Copyright © 2009 by Sanderson Beck

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