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.
New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
New interview with Fritz Lang scholar Joe McElhaney
PLUS: An essay by critic Glenn Kenny
This film was my first introduction to Lang and I am very happy that I chose this film. The contrast of the simplicity of the characters contrasted by the complexity and ambiguity of the plot makes for a very entertaining and even tense film. There is a brilliant use of lighting and subversion. You are never sure until the end who is whom. You are never sure until the end what part each person plays and even at the end there is still a tiny bit of doubt. I very much enjoy films that do that and they are RARE. This film gets a place in my top shelf films. I have heard that this is a "minor" Lang production. I can't wait to see his majors! I highly recommend it to any and every film buff!
Fritz lang the famous german director who left europe as well as Hitchcock(who also was trained/learned his trade in Germany)became famous for his films Metropolis and M. M the spy tale probably caught the eye of the producer of this film who write the screenplay and Lang took on the project though the script was not to his liking or the original author's. Here we have a criterion film collection and the print is in excellent condition although as one commentator remarks(the only one) there is not much bonus material more or less a few comments comparing Lang and Hitchcock the latter was not as well respected for his work in England. This seems odd and we dont know whether it was his work in Germany where he was taught his trade but proposed works like The War of the Worlds and Our Man in Havana eventually were made by others. The much celebrated work Our Man in Havana, by the same author and fellow catholic as the author od this piece, turned down his overture and publicly expressed in England during the 30's his disdain for Hitchcock's work The Secret Agent which he felt did not elevate the work to a cinematic level. However laNG ALSO COMING AND TRAINED IN EUROPE and at this time directing such films as Woman in the Window, Scarlet Street and Cloak and Dagger does an admirable job with the script which did not meet expectations. There not much you can do when the producer writes it, and the first scene where we see a man being released from a mental ward, the hunt, a later murder, the scenes with children and a cake, like a children's birthday party with a surprise thrown in are wonderfully recreated and show why the war was fought..as one of the ladies in the cake scenes shows "for a good cause." Perhaps Lang was choosen for this film though it is the horrors of the blitz(though this is downplayed) since tended to avoid propaganda type films..this is a western type film. As a heading reads FREE NATIONS and here we have England, which was thought to be the freest and most democratic the 1940's, this was during the time of the strong leaders and the iron will...we soon have the person released involved in a humane killing of his wife and the murder of a doctor which he is not implicated in but still a suspect and trouble with the police? A spy melodrama of wartime terror the blitz and the domestic terror of modern life and the human elements that provoke and one man caught inits midst and we must decide all about him? The novel differs from the film and the author of the novel thought little of it, but it ends on a melodramatic note, here we have good and evil and even when terror and unspeakable horrors when evil has us in its grips, good has the last word and we have a church wedding and a happy ending..you can compare this type of film with James BOnd/Ian Flemings spy tales which come in its wake..of course its not quite so simple?Read more ›
As one can expect from the Criterion Studio, this release of Lang's war-time paranoia is a must have for all fans of the genre. The packaging is tasteful and elegant and fits nicely among other CC titles on ones shelf!