Ministry of Fear

Ministry of Fear

Director: Fritz Lang

Cast: Fritz Lang, Ray Milland, Marjorie Reynolds, Dan Duryea

     
 

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An innocent man is drawn into a web of espionage when he unwittingly comes into possession of a crucial piece of microfilm in this shadowy, ominous film noir. Fritz Lang's adaptation of Graham Greene's novel is filled with unusual touches, beginning with the fact that protagonist Stephen Neale (Ray Milland) has just been released from aSee more details below

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Overview

An innocent man is drawn into a web of espionage when he unwittingly comes into possession of a crucial piece of microfilm in this shadowy, ominous film noir. Fritz Lang's adaptation of Graham Greene's novel is filled with unusual touches, beginning with the fact that protagonist Stephen Neale (Ray Milland) has just been released from a mental asylum. To celebrate his return to the real world, he visits a local carnival, only to accidentally receive a "prize" meant for a Nazi agent. When he discovers the error, he turns for help to a detective, whose investigations only make the matter more complicated. Neale soon winds up on the run from both the Nazis and the police, who mistakenly believe him guilty of murder. Lang's famous expressionistic style is somewhat muted here, but Henry Sharp's crisp black-and-white cinematography sets a suitably unsettling mood, and the twists and double-crosses of Greene's story unfold at an appropriately quick pace. While it does not reach the same level of timeless classic as Carol Reed's adaptation of Greene's The Third Man four years later, Ministry of Fear stands as a well-made, thoroughly gripping and intelligent example of film noir.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
This plot-heavy espionage thriller is stuffed with eccentric touches, from its premise -- a recently released mental patient accidentally wins a cake with a roll of secret Nazi microfilm baked into it -- to its bravura showdown conclusion. After stumbling onto the mysterious baked good, Ray Milland's Stephen Neale finds himself up against a sinister spy ring more than willing to play on his mental instability. They even hold a bogus séance designed to provoke his guilt at the death of his wife, the event that sent him into the mental hospital in the first place. If the plot becomes muddled at times, it still retains director Fritz Lang's always-compelling atmosphere of doom, and there's one stunning sequence that makes it all worthwhile. A pitch black room is suddenly pierced with the sound of gunfire, which lets in a single pinpoint of light. Stephen opens the door on a freshly killed corpse. Joel Coen and Ethan Coen paid tribute to this jaw-dropping scene in their neo-noir Blood Simple.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/12/2013
UPC:
0715515103411
Original Release:
1944
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[B&W]
Time:
1:27:00
Sales rank:
6,370

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Ray Milland Stephen Neale
Marjorie Reynolds Carla Hilfe
Dan Duryea Cost/Travers
Carl Esmond Willi Hilfe
Hillary Brooke The Second Mrs. Bellaire
Percy Waram Inspector Prentice
Alan Napier Dr. Forrester
Erskine Sanford Mr. Rennit
Thomas Louden Mr. Newland
Aminta Dyne First Mrs. Bellaire
Eustace Wyatt Blind Man
Mary Field Miss Penteel
Byron Foulger Mr. Newby
Harry Allen Delivery Man
Frank Baker Actor
Wilson Benge Air Raid Warden
Evelyn Beresford Fat Lady
Arthur Blake Officer
Matthew Boulton Government Official
George Broughton Men in Tailor's Shop
Leonard Carey Porter
Bruce Carruthers Police Clerk
David Clyde English Bobby
Anne Curson Lady with Children
Frank Dawson Vicar
Cyril Delavanti Railway Ticket Agent
Edward Fielding Executive
Helena Grant Mrs. Merrick
Grayce Hampton Lady with Floppy Hat
Olaf Hytten Clerk in Tailor Shop
Boyd Irwin Actor
Rita Johnson 2nd Mrs. Bellaire
Colin Kenny Scotland Yard Man
Frank Leigh Actor
Connie Leon Lady Purchaser of Cake
Lester Matthews Dr. Norton
Clive Morgan Actor
Ottola Nesmith Woman at Admission Gate
Jessica Newcombe Cake Booth Lady
Hilda Plowright Maid
Francis Sayles Actor
Eric Wilton Actor

Technical Credits
Fritz Lang Director
Hans Dreier Art Director
Bertram Granger Set Decoration/Design
Edith Head Costumes/Costume Designer
Don Johnson Sound/Sound Designer
Archie Marshek Editor
Seton Miller Producer,Screenwriter
Hal Pereira Art Director
Miklós Rózsa Score Composer
Henry Sharp Cinematographer
W.C. Smith Sound/Sound Designer
Wally Westmore Makeup
Victor Young Score Composer
Graham Greene Source Author

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Scene Index

New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack New interview with Fritz Lang scholar Joe McElhaney; Trailer; Plus: an essay by critic Glenn Kenny

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