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Ministry of Fear (1944)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 5 February 1945 (Sweden)
Stephen Neale has just been released from an asylum during World War 2 in England when he stumbles on a deadly Nazi spy plot by accident, and tries to stop it.

Director:

Fritz Lang

Writers:

Seton I. Miller (screenplay), Graham Greene (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ray Milland ... Stephen Neale
Marjorie Reynolds ... Carla Hilfe
Carl Esmond ... Willi Hilfe
Hillary Brooke ... Mrs. Bellane #2
Percy Waram ... Inspector Prentice
Dan Duryea ... Cost / Travers the Tailor
Alan Napier ... Dr. JM Forrester
Erskine Sanford ... George Rennit
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Storyline

Stephen Neale is released into WWII England after two years in an asylum, but it doesn't seem so sane outside either. On his way back to London to rejoin civilization, he stumbles across a murderous spy ring and doesn't quite know who to turn to. Written by Ken Yousten <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 February 1945 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

Espions sur la Tamise See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(copyright length)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Forrester works for the Ministry of Home Security, a genuine British governmental department established in 1939 to defend the UK's civilian population against enemy action. See more »

Goofs

The way that cake box was flung around and handled, the cake would have been crumbled and in clumps when he got it out to serve to the blind man on the train. At least, most of the frosting would have been stuck to the inside of the box. See more »

Quotes

Stephen Neale: Mr. Travers is quite put out.
See more »

Connections

Version of Quinta colonna (1966) See more »

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User Reviews

Flawed Gem
17 April 2011 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Man released from mental hospital gets innocently involved with Nazis because of a cake.

There are more than enough compensations in this flawed thriller to keep viewers' eyes glued to the screen. But what I'd really like to see is the movie Lang wanted to make instead of this one, the version producer-writer Miller and the Production Code insisted upon (IMDB). Not that this version is unworthy, but it's not hard to see Lang's sensibility competing against Miller's turgid screenplay. Unfortunately, the scenes follow in no particular order, while the several genuinely good plot ideas (the many clever snares) lose impact because of murky development. Too bad there wasn't a streamlining re-write. Couple that revision with Lang's visual talents and a first-rate thriller of Hitchcockian proportions would have resulted.

At least producer Miller popped for some impressive sets to accommodate Lang's expressionist vision-- the very last scene may be the only sunshine shot in the entire 90- minutes,(the requisite happy ending). The narrative may be muddled, but several scenes are memorable—the sinister blind man, the frantic search for the cake, the final unmasking. Each shows an expert blend of form with content.

Unfortunately, the movie is also harmed by spotty casting. Milland is okay, but he is a better actor than he shows here, which is perhaps Lang's fault. A serious flaw, however, is Reynolds (Carla) who shows way too much American malt shop to pass as a European, even as the sister of the very European Esmond (Willi). Then too, I'm as big a fan of Duryea as anyone. But one thing he's not by any stretch is a British tailor. For that reason, it's probably just as well his part is surprisingly small. On the other hand, there's the stately Hillary Brooke (Bellane), always an impressive blend of brains and beauty, along with a very smooth and affable Carl Esmond, both of whom deliver in spades.

I wanted to like the movie more than I do. But, it's really a movie of parts rather than a satisfactory whole. With better casting and cogent narrative, the results could have been truly exceptional, instead of the flawed thriller it unfortunately is.


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