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The Big Lift is a reenactment of the Berlin airlift of 1948. Flexing their postwar muscles, the Russians blockade the Western sector, refusing to allow the Allies to ship supplies to the starving Berliners. From their headquarters at Tempelhof airport, a group of courageous American flyers risk their lives to transport supplies by air. Marine Sgt. Henry ‘Hank’ Kowalski (Paul Douglas) is a ground operations sergeant with several scores to settle, while Sgt. 1st Class Danny MacCullough (Montgomery Clift) is a pilot who begins a doomed love affair with a German girl called Frederica Burkhardt (Cornell Borchers).