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Fear Is the Key (1972)

Following the death of his family in an aeroplane crash, a man plots an elaborate revenge scheme on those responsible. By setting himself up as a criminal, he plans to get close to a ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay)

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Complete credited cast:
John Talbot
Sarah Ruthven
Dolph Sweet ...
Peter Marinker ...
Elliott Sullivan ...
Judge Mollison
Roland Brand ...


Following the death of his family in an aeroplane crash, a man plots an elaborate revenge scheme on those responsible. By setting himself up as a criminal, he plans to get close to a certain tycoon who has been approached by the culprits to help them retrieve the cargo of the lost plane. Written by Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In the right hands, fear is the deadliest weapon of all.


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

26 December 1972 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

O Medo é a Chave  »

Filming Locations:


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Production Co:

,  »
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Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Ben Kingsley's film debut. See more »


Lights on the car which were broken when the car arrives on the beach during the chase are fixed when the car leaves the beach. See more »


Bayou Blues
Written by Roy Budd
Produced by Jack Fishman
Performed by Roy Budd And His Orchestra
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User Reviews

One of the All Time Great Adventure Movies You've Probably Never Heard About
4 July 2001 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

I was browsing the commentary track on the DVD release of Soderbergh's movie *The Limey* where he and screenwriter Lem Dobbs are talking about Barry Newman and movies with cool chases... Lem Dobbs just so happens to mention his fondness for "Fear is the Key" and it's cool car chase sequence, etc., Once I hear the words "movie" and "cool car chase" in the same sentence my interest automatically goes through the roof... as there is nothing better I like than a movie with a cool car chase in it. I ask all my friends if they've heard of the movie and no one, and I mean NO ONE I know has ever even heard of the movie. When I was at Tarantino's 4th Annual Film Fest I asked him about the movie and he hadn't even seen it (though he just had gotten a print of it). So here for this huge period of time was this movie I had been building up and dying to see...

Well at last I finally got to see it (as I found a place that was legit and sold copies of it) and was not let down in the slightest though I will say the last 5 minutes of the movie has one of the most original and intense endings I've ever seen. The movie is worth watching for seeing a tour de force performance by Barry Newman, the very very gorgeous Suzy Kendall (whom was also in Torso), and a pre-Gandhi Ben Kingsley (with hair), a very electrifying and long car chase that is one of the coolest car chases I've ever seen in a movie, and the last 5 minutes which just sucks you in and makes you forget your watching a movie... I mean the ending just literally has you on the edge of your seat. This movie is also a must for any Alistair Maclaine fans since it was based on Alistairs novel of the same title.

The movie starts out slowly and your not quite sure where it is going to go. It drifts along for the first couple of minutes and then *BAM* it takes off like a bat out of hell and never slows down until the credits roll at the end. It is one of those few action/adventure movies where you aren't quite sure what is going to happen next, which way it will twist, nor are you really sure of the intentions or alliances that any of the characters... it just literally takes you on a wild ride of adventure and intrigue.

The car chase sequence which goes on for quite some time (like around 10 minutes or so) is just one of the all time coolest car chases you will see in a movie. I mean it's not on the level of the French Connection, or Bullitt, or the all out craziness of The Master Touch... but it is cool in it's own unique way of sorta of throwing out the usual movie rules cliche that you can only have a car chase on a road. In this movie if a car is coming down the road right at Barry Newman... he doesn't try to hit it dead on or try to out maneuver it on the actual road... he is like forget that and takes off into the woods, forest or beach or whatever is around him... you get the sense he'd take his car through a supermarket or a iceberg if he had to. Which makes the scene electrifying with movie coolness.

I would talk about the ending more but... sigh... it just is so unique and surprising... it would be a huge injustice to say anything other than it was my favorite part of the movie and I'm surprise a James Bond film hasn't ripped it off yet.

Barry Newman shines John Talbot and puts on a tour de force type of performance that is so friggin good and cool! You rarely ever get such a cool acting performance in a action/adventure type movie... yet Barry Newman here shows why he was one of the best and coolest actors of the 70's and even today!

I will say I just loved loved Suzy Kendall in this movie. Of course she is just gorgeous but I mean she made the most of her role, whereas with other actresses they could have just completely walked through the role with blandness with zero effort. I had previous seen Suzy in the movie Torso so I was already a big fan of her work.

Alistair Maclaine who wrote the novel to which the movie is based on is known for full throttle engaging novels full of adventure that once they get into gear they grab a hold of you until the very end. You can chalk this one as another one of Alistair's novels that was made into a great movie (Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra, Where Eagles Dare, are some of the other and more well known).

So I am very thankful now to Lem Dobbs who inspired me to see this fine flick and hopefully now I can spread that onto others now to see this forgotten but great movie.

40 of 42 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Why is this Movie Hated? tabbycat
good car chase! obryan864
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