In Berlin, the CIA folks seemed to stay in the comfortable hotel while they made Tom Hanks's character stay in a gross, cold, run-down hideout.

2 Answers 2


Donovan can't stay at the Hilton because it would blow his cover, so to speak. The US and the USSR can't be seen to be bargaining with each other. To preserve Donovan as a private citizen negotiator, he has to stay at a different place.

Aside from plot reasons, having Donovan stay somewhere other than the Hilton makes him a more relatable underdog as he bumbles around Berlin with a cold. It also allows the film to show what Berlin was really like outside the bubble of US influence and the CIA's setup. If he stayed with all the other government officials and traveled with them, you wouldn't see him walking through the bombed out streets by himself or getting his coat stolen.

  • OK, thanks. If you're right, I feel like I didn't miss anything, and I'm just surprised at Spielberg's plot being weak in that way. (Showing the movie audience what Berlin is like doesn't seem like a good enough reason.)
    – Ryan
    Mar 22, 2016 at 15:18
  • 1
    I think it's a strength, not a weakness! Throwing Donovan into the USSR without protection gives the film needed heart and humor. Showing how an everyday US citizen reacts to both the unfiltered USSR and the US government is one of the film's strongest points.
    – vastra360
    Mar 22, 2016 at 15:24

Donovan is an insurance lawyer. The CIA chief is much higher up the rank and as it goes in the corporate world even today, the younger folk don't get hotel stays in the quality of senior managers.

  • 3
    No. They discuss it in the film. Something about having to keep him separate to avoid it looking like he was there officially.
    – Catija
    Mar 22, 2016 at 13:39

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