69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
Someone Left the Cake Out in the Train,
This review is from: Ministry of Fear [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Stephen Neal has spent 2 years in an asylum for what was judged as a "mercy killing," and when his sentence is completed, he leaves to find a world gone mad. It is 1944, the height of WWII, and it all starts with a cake. Neal wins a cake at a fair, and while on the train to London, is nearly murdered for it. He is then swept into a world of Nazis, spies, bogus fortune-tellers, and sinister people with aliases. We see the plot unfold from Neal's eyes, and are as perplexed as he is; trying to figure out the meaning as one is watching is a hopeless task.
Based on a novel by Graham Greene, the direction by Fritz Lang is excellent, and it has an atmospheric, eerie score by Victor Young. The real beauty of this film is in the superb cinematography by Henry Sharp, with a use of light/shade contrasts that are spectacular, and the composition of each scene a work of art. Added to this is the attractiveness of its leading man. Ray Milland was at the top of his career (he was to win the Best Actor Oscar for "The Lost Weekend" the following year), and is marvelous, as well as very handsome as Neal. Supporting him is Marjorie Reynolds as the Austrian Carla Hilfe, Carl Esmond as her brother Willi, Hillary Brooke as the leggy Mrs. Bellane, and Dan Duryea as a sinister tailor with a big pair of scissors.
This film may not have the most cogent of plots, but it is entertaining, and lovely to look at. Fritz Lang was forced by the studio to tack on an ending that he deplored, and I have to say it is startling in its change of mood. I suspect Lang made it purposely as short and abrupt as it is, as a signal to the audience that it was not his intent. If you like noir spy mysteries, you'll like "Ministry of Fear", but don't waste too many brain cells trying to make sense of it. Total running time is 84 minutes.
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Initial post: Jun 13, 2007 10:01:12 PM PDT
Bobby Underwood says:
Just a terrific review for one of the great films of its genre made during the 1940's. Hopefully reviews of this quality will draw enough attention to it so that a wider audience can have a chance to see it when, and if, it ever gets a dvd release.
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