|The Man Between|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Carol Reed|
|Produced by||Carol Reed
Alexander Korda(exec.producer; uncredited)
|Screenplay by||Walter Ebert
|Music by||John Addison|
|Edited by||Bert Bates|
|Distributed by||British Lion Films
|Box office||£139,491 (UK)|
The Man Between (also known as Berlin Story) is a 1953 British thriller film directed by Carol Reed and starring James Mason, Claire Bloom, Hildegard Knef and Geoffrey Toone. The screenplay concerns a British woman on a visit to post-war Berlin, who is caught up in an espionage ring smuggling secrets into and out of the Eastern Bloc.
Ivo Kern (James Mason) is a former lawyer who has participated in Nazi atrocities and is now selling his expertise to East Germans to kidnap and transport certain West Germans to the eastern bloc. Although Kern desires to relocate to the West, he is hampered by West German suspicions and his criminal past. Nevertheless, he agrees to a final kidnapping venture that fails, forcing his employer to take over and abduct Briton Susanne Mallison (Claire Bloom) by mistake. Kern had earlier feigned a romance with Mallison as a means to seize his kidnapping target.
The abduction of Mallison presents Kern with an opportunity to both return the unfortunate victim to the West and impress western authorities with his atonement. Despite Kern's selfish and dark facade, Mallison falls in love with him. She tells him that she can see humanity deep inside a man who had once wished to defend the innocent and the 'rights of man'. This glimpse also appears to a young East Berlin boy who assists Kern and Mallison in their attempt to escape, as he follows Kern everywhere and the boy is treated with kindness. Kern almost admits his affection for Mallison on one occasion but he directs the conversation back to his sordid past and the escape attempt.
Ultimately, as Kern and Mallison are only a few feet from the Berlin gate while hidden in the back of a truck, their escape goes awry. Kern distracts the border guards as he runs from the vehicle, shouting at Mallison to hurry into the West. As her truck crosses the neutral zone and she reaches back for Kern, he is gunned down by the guards, and in doing so he gives his life to save hers.
James Mason won the best actor award from the National Board of Review.
Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote: "...It must be said, without reflection, that the credit for whatever there is in the way of exciting melodrama in this primarily atmospheric film goes to Mr. Reed for his direction of the actors and camera. For it is the attitudes of his people, the moods of the city in various scenes and the cleverness of the assembly, rather than the sharpness of the story told, that account for the modest distinction on the quality level of The Man Between."