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Ministry of Fear (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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It's even fitting that our protagonist is an Englishman who'd just finished serving a two year stint in the Lembridge Asylum for killing his wife, except that Stephen Neale (Ray Milland) pleads extenuating circumstances. Today, even though England is being bombed with frightening frequency by the Luftwaffe, he just wants to re-enter society and blend in like regular folks. He shouldn't have gone to that charity fair being conducted by old dowager volunteers. But Stephen Neale was waiting to catch a train, and he had time to kill.
In the fair he's coaxed into having his fortune read by a palm reader who proceeds to deliver a cryptic message: "My instructions are these: What you want is the cake." The rest of the instructions allow Neal to win a weight-guessing game, the prize of which is a cake. What sort of cake? Why, a McGuffin cake.
Ray Milland wears perplexity pretty well, and this suits the film ideally. His character's muddling thru is marked by frequent bouts of bafflement. The kernel of the plot concerns his efforts to expose a spy ring. Except that Stephen Neale is a rank amateur in this atmospheric game of intrigue. Along the way, he stumbles onto a seance, is accused of murder, and, yes, is assaulted and repeatedly shot at over the cake he'd won by mistake. Turns out, the loony bin was a whole lot safer.Read more ›
I remember getting a pretty good deal on this Criterion Blu ray edition of this Fritz Lang directed film. Although I had never seen it before, I will pretty much see anything with Lang's name attached, especially when he's in charge. The setting is England smack dab in the middle of WW II and the Nazi's are bombing the hell out of the place. Stephen Neale is about to be released from the "asylum" where he was placed after his implication in his wife's death. We are not sure early on what happened but it comes out in bits and pieces as the story develops.
Before getting on a train to London where he will get a fresh start (dodging bombs I guess) Neale stops for a charity event near the station. He's persuaded to guess the weight of a large cake which he correctly guesses thanks to a fortune teller who gives him the answer. Alas the fortune teller gave the information to the wrong man. After Neale boards the train, complete with cake in hand, he is joined in his compartment by a supposed blind man. As it turns out the blind man isn't what he seems. As a quick aside this is the first time I've ever heard anyone pronounce Nazi as Nazee rather than Natzy. Sorry.
The blind man is just the first in a series of misdirection involving people and who they may or may not be. While it is certainly not difficult to identify the bad guys for most viewers of this stylized type thriller, there is enough illusion to keep you guessing. As Neale runs after the man who took his cake, a Nazi bomb drops on the guy as well as the cake. So what's going on here?
After getting to London, Neale hires a private investigator to help him figure that out beginning with the charity organization who sponsored the cake guessing contest.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Enjoyed it. I like many of the'40's old black and white suspense movies.Published 20 days ago by Marty
Some have trashed this film as middle-of-the-road Lang, but I disagree. If I didn't know better, I'd say that it's a lost middle-period Hitchcock thriller from his Hollywood... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Rick Drais
Excellent film. Criterion blu-ray purchased June 2015: excellent picture, no complaints.Published 5 months ago by Lizzie
Ministry of Fear DVD with Ray Milland is a good movie, the sound and picture were great. No closed captioning, however. Read morePublished 6 months ago by M Johns
Alfred Hitchcock is my favorite director and Fritz Lang's film comes close to matching the Master. This is a terrific film no matter the source but looks marvelous in blu ray. Read morePublished 7 months ago by William J. Harper