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The Fallen Sparrow [DVD]

John Garfield , Maureen O'Hara , Richard Wallace    Parental Guidance   DVD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: 12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Actors: John Garfield, Maureen O'Hara, Walter Slezak, Patricia Morison
  • Directors: Richard Wallace
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Odeon Entertainment Ltd
  • DVD Release Date: 4 Oct 2010
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003ZFO90Y
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,479 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

A world at war, many sparrows must fall, are the ominous words that open this classic 1943 film noir. That sparrow could be Kit McKittrick (John Garfield), a former Spanish Civil War prisoner who arrives back in New York to discover the truth behind the mysterious death of his friend Louie Lepetino. McKittrick is on the verge of near madness following the psychological torture inflicted on him whilst imprisoned in General Franco s civil war jails. Haunted by a sadistic man with a limp, McKittrick finds himself surrounded by Nazi spies who want to steal a precious artifact that he has brought with him following his escape from Spain. Around him there is only uncertainty with the sinister Dr. Skaas (Walter Slezak) who is fascinated by the effects of psychological torture; and Tonni Donne (Maureen O Hara), an elusive, elegant beauty who knows more then she s telling. As McKittrick tries to uncover a nest of Nazi spies whilst retaining his sanity, the stakes become higher in this excellent psychological thriller.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE FALLED SPARROW ON DVD 8 Oct 2010
By Robin
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The Fallen Sparrow is not an especially well-known or well remembered movie but it is of major interest to those who love black and white crime films from the 1940s. Firmly rooted within the mainstream of film noir - the hero is suffering from psychological trauma as a result of having been tortured and is on the verge of paranoia - The Fallen Sparrow uses high contrast images to tell its story of a man seeking an explanation for his friend's mysterious death. He comes across several glamorous women, seemingly uninterested cops and a collection of European refugees, one of whom is studying torture as an academic subject.

The Fallen Sparrow is also of particular interest to fans of old movies because of its unusual deployment of Maureen O'Hara. Here, far more glamorous and sexy than in her other movies, Maureen plays a character whom neither the hero nor the audience can be sure of. It is to be regretted that Maureen O'Hara was not given more roles like this.

This new DVD from Odeon comes from a well used print which has innumerable speckles and scratches. On the other hand the transfer is quite good and the images are stable. The audio quality is clean and clear. Watching this DVD is rather like watching an old movie in a repertory cinema forty years ago.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unexceptional noir like tale 3 Jun 2011
By The CinemaScope Cat TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A surprisingly dull spy noir that not even the strong screen presence of John Garfield can do much to save. Garfield plays a former prisoner of the Spanish Civil War who, after being hospitalized for a nervous breakdown, returns to New York to solve the murder of his best friend. He begins to suspect that the fascists who tortured him have followed him to New York but have they? Or is it just his paranoia, the residue of his previous mental condition? The villains are so obvious right from the start so there's no suspense regarding who the bad guys are, just how will they be found out. Maureen O'Hara looks beautiful but she has nothing to do (though there's a pay off at the end). Handsome B&W cinematography courtesy of Nicholas Musuraca. Co-starring Walter Slezak, Patricia Morison, Martha O'Driscoll and Hugh Beaumont.

The Odeon Entetainment Ltd. DVD has a decent transfer.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but dated 19 Jan 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a film noir which has not worn terribly well - it is set in the early years of the war and Garfield is a Spanish civil war veteran suffering from post traumatic stress who returns to New York convinced a friend has been murdered and sets about investigating the crime. The wartime gung ho patriotic stuff doesn't really work any longer, and the plot is convoluted and not very convincing - sinister Nazis led by Walter Slezak hamming like crazy -are looking for a Spanish relic Garfield apparently has somewhere. But he is undeniably charismatic and Maureen O'Hara has a woman who is no better than she should be - he falls for her - looks gorgeous. She has been given the full Hollywood studio gloss. O'Hara wasn't always sexy, but here she certainly is. The film led the way to some fine Hollywood films noir and seen in that context is worth acquiring.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars dvd for 70th birthday gift. 15 Mar 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Bought as a gift for my mum's 70th birthday. unopen as it wont be needed until the end of March.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Triumph of the Fallen 30 Sep 2009
By Harvey M. Canter - Published on
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...
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Film Version of FALLEN SPARROW Flies High! Viva Dorothy B. Hughes! 5 Oct 2008
By Dorian Tenore-Bartilucci - Published on
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. Garfield's toughness, tenderness, and humor have us rooting for Kit. As Toni Donne, the guarded beauty with a terrible hold over her, lovely Maureen O'Hara is an unexpectedly effective femme fatale, conveying Toni's inner fear and regret in her poignant, soulful portrayal, winning my sympathy. O'Hara has great chemistry with Garfield. Walter Slezak's performance as Dr. Skaas is silkily sinister, though his true evil nature is telegraphed earlier than in the book, with his interest in "the cruelties of men towards other men" and "comparing modern scientific torture with the methods of the ancients." TFS keeps the paranoia percolating and the suspense simmering, even keeping much of the novel's best dialogue. Today's audiences might not understand Kit's obsession with the battle flag, even with the explanatory scene at Toni's home -- but then again, I bet the men and women fighting overseas will get the significance of a battle standard and what it symbolizes.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Fallen Sparrow (1943) ... John Garfield ... Richard Wallace (Director) (2009)" 17 Jan 2011
By J. Lovins - Published on
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

3. Maureen O'Hara [aka: Maureen FitzSimons]
Date of Birth: 17 August 1920 - Ranelagh, County Dublin, Ireland (now Ranelagh, Dublin, Ireland)
Date of Death: Still Living

the cast includes:
John Garfield - John 'Kit' McKittrick
Maureen O'Hara - Toni Donne
Walter Slezak - Dr. Christian Skaas
Patricia Morison - Barby Taviton
Martha O'Driscoll - Whitney 'The Imp' Parker
Bruce Edwards - Ab Parker
John Banner - Anton
John Miljan - Inspector 'Toby' Tobin
Hugh Beaumont - Otto Skaas

Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]

Total Time: 94 min on DVD ~ RKO Radio Pictures ~ (08/04/2009)
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Garfield's Dark Side 6 Feb 2008
By General Phil Sheridan - Published on
Dorothy Hughes' best selling suspense novel translated into one of the best early film noir movies made. In a role originally offered to Jimmy Cagney, Garfield hit a magnificent major chord of acting. In an era before visual flashbacks of the mind, Garfield's voice-over and facial expressions nail a psychiatric basket-case destroyed by torture at the hands of the German secret police during the Spainsh Civil War. The plot is a little dated, but Maureen O'Hara gives one of her best performance and Walter Slezak is a great villian, oozing EVIL from every pore..
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Depends upon how to look at it" 30 Jun 2012
By Dr. James Gardner - Published on
"The Fallen Sparrow" is based on a bestselling novel by Dorothy Hughes. A former POW from the Spanish Civil War (John Garfield) returns to New York in 1940 to find the killer of his lifelong friend, and in the process he stumbles upon a Nazi spy ring and is stalked by the man who conducted his torture sessions.

The film stars ruggedly handsome John Garfield (1913-52), the original "method" actor. Garfield made his screen debut in 1938 with the popular "Four Daughters" for which he received his first Best Supporting Actor nomination (he got his second in 1947 for "Body and Soul"), and "They Made me a Criminal" (1939) propelled him into the A list. He's best known for "The Postman Always Rings Twice" (1946). Blacklisted in the communist scare of the early 50s, his career was cut short, and he died in 1952 at age 39. This film comes at the height of his popularity and it was his chance to show a wider range of acting skill, which he does.

Maureen O'Hara (1920) plays the granddaughter of a French nobleman who appears to be part of a Nazi spy ring. Early on she lit up the screen at 19 as Esmeralda in "Hunchback of Notre Dame" (1939). She could play comedy ("Miracle on 34th Street in 1947), or action ("Bagdad" in 1949), but perhaps is best known for the 5 films she did with John Wayne - "Rio Grande" (1950), "The Quiet Man" (1952), "Big Jake" (1971), "McClintock" (1963), and "Wings of Eagles" (1957). O'Hara does her usual good job.

Walter Slezak (1902-83) plays a sinister character who is interested in torture. Slezak was a great character actor who appeared in more than 50 films, often as a villain (e.g., "Lifeboat", "Born to Kill") but he did well in comedies (e.g., "The Pirate", "The Inspector General") and musicals and won a Tony for "Fanny" (1955).

Martha O'Driscoll (1922-98) plays a friend of Garfield. Her good looks and great singing voice helped her through three dozen films between 1936 and 1946 after which she married a rich businessman

Richard Wallace (1894-1951) directs. Wallace was best known for his work with female actors and he made 3 films with Shirley Temple. He was a versatile director and among his more than 60 films are "Sinbad the Sailor" (1947) and "Bombadier" (1943).

This was his last film as an editor for Robert Wise (1914-2005) who is best known as the director of the Oscar winning musicals "West Side Story" (1961) and "Sound of Music" (1965). Just prior to this film he worked as an editor for Orson Welles on "The Magnificent Ambersons" (1942) and while Welles was overseas Wise reduced it to 88 minutes. Welles said it had been edited "by a lawnmower".

The musical score from Roy Webb (1888-1982) is excellent, a great example of how music can supplement the story without imposing. Webb is best known from his work with Val Lewton, though he worked on more than 200 films and was nominated for an Oscar 6 times between 1938 and 1946. He was nominated for an Oscar for his work on this film.

1943 was an OK year in films - The top grossing films included "This is the Army", "For Whom the Bell Tolls", "Song of Bernadette", "Coney Island", and "Stage Door Canteen". Other notables included "The Ox Bow Incident". The big Oscar winner was "Going My Way", and other winners included "Gaslight" and "None But the Lonely Heart"

War films were particularly popular - "Action in the North Atlantic" with Bogart and Raymond Massey, "Air Force" with John Garfield, "Bataan" with Robert Taylor and Lloyd Nolan, "Bombadier" with Pat O'Brien and Randolph Scott, "Corvette K-255" with Randolph Scott, "Five Graves to Cairo" with Franchet Tone and Anne Baxter", "Hangmen Also Die" with Brian Donlevy and Walter Brennan, and "Hitler's Children."

The NY Times called it "a strange and restless melodrama... far-from-flawless" yet also an "uncommon and provocatively handled melodrama". Garfield was praised for a "taut performance" and Wallace "has used both soundtrack and camera to suggest the stresses upon the volunteer's fear-drenched mind."

Bottom line - a compelling drama.
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