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The Fallen Sparrow

4.1 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Ex-Spanish Civil War POW Kit McKitrick (John Garfield) is investigating the death of his childhood pal. But the brutality he endured at the hands of his fascist captors has left more then physical scars.

Maureen O'Hara, playing an elusive beauty who knows more then she's telling, matches her cool elegance with Garfield's electric intensity in this highly regarded psychological thriller. As Kit careens from swank Manhattan soirees to covert Nazi spy nests, he discovers if he does have the guts to confront men who lie, torture and murder in the service of Germany's crazed Führer.

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Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Maureen O'Hara, Walter Slezak, Patricia Morison John Garfield
  • Directors: Richard Wallace
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: RKO RADIO
  • DVD Release Date: August 4, 2009
  • Run Time: 94 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002E7GAJM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,976 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Fallen Sparrow" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
RKO masterfully and faithfully adapted the 1943 movie version of Dorothy B. Hughes's novel THE FALLEN SPARROW (TFS), condensing the novel without watering it down. The film brings us into the mindset of troubled yet determined hero John "Kit" McKittrick (John Garfield). Kit's boyhood friend Louie had helped him escape the Spanish prison where he'd been tortured for two agonizing years after the Spanish Civil War. Back in New York City, Kit's stunned to discover Louie's been killed in a 12-story fall from a window at a party for wartime refugees Dr. Skaas (Walter Slezak) and his nephew Otto (Hugh Beaumont, pre-LEAVE IT TO BEAVER). Hell bent on proving Louie's death was neither accidental nor a suicide, Kit starts sleuthing. His grim goal: killing Louie's killer.

Kit's suspects include the women in his upscale circle. Was it Kit's alluring old flame Barby Taviton (Patricia Morison)? Lovely, sad-eyed refugee Toni Donne (Maureen O'Hara)? Songbird Whitney Parker (appealing Martha O'Driscoll. By the way, this character's name was "Content Hamilton" in the novel)? Kit's biggest obstacle: he has what we now call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, haunted by the memory of the mysterious limping man who tortured Kit in his dark cell, trying to make him reveal where he'd hidden his regiment's battle standard. Kit imagines hearing the drag and thump that signaled his sadistic tormentor's arrival -- or IS he imagining it? Terror mounts as Kit realizes his enemies may have followed him home, maybe even planting their spies into every aspect of Kit's life, placing not only himself in danger, but also his friends and loved ones...

The role of Kit, a working-class, self-described "mug" in gent's clothing with a heart full of all-but-shattered ideals, fits John Garfield like a glove.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is one of John Garfield's most unheralded films, in my opinion, mostly because it has been nearly impossible to see or obtain for many years. VHS copies were rare and highly-priced, bootleg copies were hard to come by, and it was rarely shown on TV or in theaters. Recently, it was made available through the Warner Vault series, and this is a really good thing for Garfield fans. In it, Garfield plays an American who had fought with the Spanish against the Nazis, was captured and then tortured and brain-washed while being held. It is plain to see he is extremely traumatized, and the film is a very accurate portrayal of PTSD in the clinical sense.

But it is first and foremost an impassioned and suspenseful war-time drama that explores the meaning of loyalty and integrity, and the need to confront and eradicate evil. Parallels between these themes are drawn in the realms of friendship, family ties, romance, and partiotism, and in this sense the film is rather complex. Still, it never stops being entertaining and engrossing. The performances by Garfield and Maureen O' Hara are solid, taut, and highly energized; I think they call it "chemistry" and there is plenty of it. Walter Slezak is perfectly despicable as the amiable villain. The film has some proto-noirish overtones in its use of voice-over narration and the evocation of nightmarish inner states, but still falls strongly in the realm of a war-time thriller, and would make a great double bill with something like 13 Rue Madeleine. It's just so satisfying when Nazis bite the dust! Would that we had that kind of clarity in today's world!!!

My only suggestion to the potential buyer is to look at the TCM website for much better pricing (under $20) than can be currently found on Amazon. But if you want to make your life easy, and just want to see a great Garfield film ASAP, click away and let this sparrow flutter on in...
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Format: DVD
RKO Radio Pictures presents "THE FALLEN SPARROW" (1943) (94 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Kit is an idealistic Spanish Civil War veteran who survives two torturous years in a fascist prison --- Upon returning to New York, he is pounced upon by Nazi agents, who hope to learn the valuable secrets that Kit would not reveal to his captors during his ordeal --- Among the methods of persuasion utilized by the Nazis is the beautiful Toni.

Although "The Fallen Sparrow" isn't one of Garfield's greatest parts or films, he's on target in every scene. Yes, it's called "talent, star quality," and Garfield's got "it."

John Garfield was borrowed from Warner Bros. by RKO Radio for the tense espionage melodrama

The Fallen Sparrow was based on the best-selling novel by Dorothy B. Hughes.

Under the production staff of:
Richard Wallace [Director]
Dorothy B. Hughes [Novel]
Warren Duff [Screenplay]
Robert Fellows [Producer]
Roy Webb [Original Music]
Nicholas Musuraca [Cinematographer]
Robert Wise [Film Editor]

1. Richard Wallace [aka: Clarence Richard Wallace] [Director]
Date of Birth: 26 August 1894 - Sacramento, California, USA
Date of Death: 3 November 1951 - Los Angeles, California, USA

2. John Garfield [aka: Jacob Julius Garfinkle]
Date of Birth: 4 March 1913 - New York City, New York
Date of Death: 21 May 1952 - New York City, New York

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