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Ministry of Fear (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1944)

Ray Milland , Marjorie Reynolds , Fritz Lang  |  NR |  Blu-ray
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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"The Life Aquatic" Available for Pre-order on Blu-ray
The Criterion Collection's release of Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic is available for pe-order on Blu-ray. This title releases May 27th, 2014. Learn more
Region 28156 encoding (This DVD will not play on most DVD players sold in the US or Canada [Region 1]. This item requires a region specific or multi-region DVD player and compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Ministry of Fear (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + The Uninvited (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Ray Milland, Marjorie Reynolds, Carl Esmond, Hillary Brooke, Percy Waram
  • Directors: Fritz Lang
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC, Full Screen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: March 12, 2013
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00AQ6J536
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,216 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New interview with Fritz Lang scholar Joe McElhaney
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Glenn Kenny

  • Editorial Reviews

    Amazon.com

    Though not as well known or praised as some of director Fritz Lang's other film noir efforts like The Big Heat (1953) or The Woman in the Window (1944), his 1944 thriller Ministry of Fear remains a visually striking and frequently taut blend of noir tropes and wartime espionage drama. Based on the novel by Graham Greene, the picture stars Ray Milland as a man, newly released from an asylum, who becomes embroiled in a plot by Nazi agents in England to deliver Allied military plans into the hands of the enemy. He soon finds himself the quarry of both the Axis and British police, with only comely Austrian refugee Marjorie Reynolds (Holiday Inn) to help him. Aided immeasurably by Henry Sharp's cinematography, which steeps the action in an almost supernatural layer of white fog, and Victor Young's suspenseful score, Ministry of Fear works best at depicting the mounting layers of threats, all seemingly unrelated, that weave around Milland, underscoring his questionable mental state and Lang's ability to tap into the psychological elements of noir. Once the disparate threads come together, the film becomes a bit more standard-issue thriller material, due in part to associate producer Seton I. Miller's script, which sands down the emotional complexities of Greene's source material (much to the dismay of the author, who disavowed the final product). But Lang completists and noir aficionados should appreciate this lesser effort from the director, especially with so much to recommend it, from Milland, one year away from his Oscar win for The Lost Weekend, and Dan Duryea's alarming turn as a duplicitous tailor with a pair of lethal shears, to Criterion's crisp 2K digital restoration. The Criterion Blu-ray and DVD are supplemented by a 17-minute interview with Lang scholar Joe McElhaney, who discusses the film's production, its relation to other works by the director, and its comparison to Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers, among other topics. An original theatrical trailer and liner notes by Glenn Kenney round out the extras. --Paul Gaita

    Product Description

    Suffused with dread and paranoia, this Fritz Lang (M) adaptation of a novel by Graham Greene (The Third Man) is a plunge into the eerie shadows of a world turned upside down by war. En route to London after being released from a mental institution, Stephen Neale (The Lost Weekend’s Ray Milland) stops at a seemingly innocent village fair, after which he finds himself caught in the web of a sinister underworld with possible Nazi connections. Lang was among the most illustrious of the European émigré filmmakers working in Hollywood during World War II, and Ministry of Fear is one of his finest American productions, an unpredictable thriller with style to spare.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 stars (BLU RAY) for a Fritz Lang spy thriller July 14, 2013
    Verified Purchase
    There may be spoilers.

    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.
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    2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Wait for a Criterion Sale April 18, 2013
    Verified Purchase
    Fairly good movie, very good transfer. Only supplement is a very brief interview about the film and director Lang. Don't pay $25 for this. You'll regret it.
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    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Mystery and suspense at its best December 31, 2013
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    A classic film noir with many twists and turns throughout. I would highly recommend to anyone who is looking for a classic and classy film.
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    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Criterion Blu-ray editon looks great. September 3, 2013
    Verified Purchase
    In my opinion this is a lesser Fritz Lang film but the Criterion BD gives a beautiful picture and good sound.
    Reading the Amazon reviews of this film is very enjoyable, one saying that Ray Milland puts him to sleep and another saying the only good thing about the film is Ray Milland's acting.
    The plot is convoluted, a bomb exploding in an apartment is one of the worst effects ever done in Hollywood and the contrived romance between the two leads is far fetched even by Hollywood standards. The only suspense is the lead character trying to convince the police that what he says is true.
    So what is good about this film? The acting is good (unless you hate Ray Milland) even though the plot can confuse the hell out of you with all the loose ends, but if you just let the film unwind and you go with the flow, it becomes an enjoyable spy picture.
    It seems that this picture was NOT a "Fritz Lang picture" in that he did not have complete control, others controlled the script, but even with that he did a good job of setting up the scenes and the lighting and photography are really good. If you are looking for a really great spy thriller, this ain't it. It is an enjoyable spy picture as long as you don't analyze it too much.
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    3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars Blu ray on B&W Film Noir you cant get better May 21, 2013
    Verified Purchase
    I love Film Noir and when you put a film noir movie together with Blu ray you get the best in viewing entertainment and then Criterion is a Cherry on the top.
    This is a True Blue Fritz Lang film noir movie with Ray Milland at his always best. Milland, just out of the hospital stops at a ladies fair and buys a chance on a cake. He wins, but what he wins is a romp with Nazi's who want to "Do him in". One of Lang's best.
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    2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars brilliantly done April 25, 2013
    Verified Purchase
    I cannot begin to tell you the joy I felt in watching this movie. The acting, the atmosphere, the plot...it was all perfect and weil put together.
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