The Curator of Schlock #269 by Jeff Shuster

Funeral In Berlin

Harry Palmer is like James Bond except totally different. 

I’m so excited! The Star Wars Episode 9 trailer dropped! I’m just so excited! And I just can’t hide it! It’s called The Rise of Skywalker. What could that mean? I mean I hate to say this, but Luke faded into star stuff at the end of the last movie. Luke died as he lived, a failure. Who cares? We got Billy Dee Williams reprising his role as Lando Calrissian. I can’t wait to watch him die the painful and humiliating death he deserves.

Speaking of painful and humiliating, Michael Caine returns as secret agent Harry Palmer in tonight’s movie, 1966’s Funeral In Berlin from director Guy Hamilton. Hey, he directed Diamonds Are Forever, the worst James Bond movie—I mean, the worst James Bond movie starring Sean Connery, which is still the worst Bond movie.

Diamonds are Forever Poster

I don’t count 1967’s Casino Royale, the comic atrocity starring Peter Sellers and Orson Welles. The 1967 Casino Royale barely counts as a movie. It’s more like a bunch of random scenes strung together by a coke fiend. Maybe I didn’t need the word like in that last sentence.

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So how is Funeral in Berlin? It’s better than Casino Royale.

Better than Diamonds Are Forever?

Well, you can’t really compare Harry Palmer to James Bond. Harry Palmer wears glasses. James Bond does not. Harry Palmer can’t afford a car. James Bond drives an Aston Martin DB5. Beautiful women seduce Harry Palmer. James Bond seduces beautiful women. Harry Palmer enjoys gourmet food. James Bond enjoys gourmet food. Hey, they’ve got something in common.

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The plot of Funeral in Berlin involves Harry Palmer taking a trip to Berlin so a Russian Colonel can defect to the United Kingdom because retirement isn’t looking so good for this old communist. He doesn’t want to defect to the United States because Americans are just another bunch of revolutionaries with better pants.

Let me tell you something, my Soviet friend. Those revolutionaries gave the world Skyline Chilli, Teddy Ruxpin, and seven seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. What did England give the world? Mushy peas, the Crooked Man, and the cancellation of Wire in the Blood, the greatest crime drama to ever to grace—ah, never mind. Where was I?

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This movie seems less eventful than The Ipcress File, which wasn’t all that eventful. Harry Palmer goes to Berlin pretending to be a lady’s underwear salesman. He meets a gorgeous Israeli spy played by Eva Renzi, and the actress dubbing her voice sounds pretty cute too. I think there’s a double cross. Someone gets shot. Twists and turns with as little action as possible. I know I’m not supposed to expect Tom-Cruise-attacking-a-helicopter-on-top-of-a-speeding-train kind of action, but we get nothing here.

I don’t know. Keep in mind that the second greatest Bond movie of all time, Thunderball, came out the previous year. I think I’m nearing to my five hundred-word count. Next week is Billion Dollar Brain, the final film in the Harry Palmer trilogy. I like the title. Lets hope this series goes out with a bang.


Jeffrey Shuster 1

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131, and episode 284) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.