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FUNERAL IN BERLIN

For Hicksflicks.com, Nov. 1, 2013

In the early 1960s, three British adaptations of Ian Fleming novels starring Sean Connery as superspy James Bond were phenomenal hits: "Dr. No," "From Russia With Love" and "Goldfinger." And it didn't take long for Hollywood — and filmmakers around the world — to cash in on the trend.

Spy movies were everywhere, from spoofs to serious thrillers, and arguably the best of all was Michael Caine as Harry Palmer in "The Ipcress File" (1965).

Caine as Palmer wore glasses and a trenchcoat, bought his own groceries and worked in London surroundings that were often dingy. This was a low-key spy who could be described as the anti-Bond.

But that's a good thing. Palmer is clever, lives by his wits and always gets his man. The emphasis is on character over action. Though, of course, gunplay does occur.

"Funeral in Berlin" (1966) is the first sequel and this one finds Palmer assigned to help a Soviet intelligence agent (veteran character actor Oscar Homolka) in Berlin to defect. Naturally, things get complicated.

This one isn't quite up there with "Ipcress" but it's still fun, and if you're a Caine fan, it's indispensible.

This Warner Archive release marks the film's DVD debut, and the third in the series, "Billion Dollar Brain," is also on DVD.

But where's the long missing "The Ipcress File"?

Let's hope that one too makes its DVD debut soon.