on 5 November 2013
You can find the plot in other reviews or IMDb. Solid performances from the entire cast, especially Cotton and Welles. Welles may have admitted to overacting, but he's a larger-than-life Haki, somewhat reminiscent of Ambler's written character. The cinematography is atmospheric and oppressive. The film is a little dirty, but more important there were some subtle signs of interlacing, suggesting a good, but not flawless, transfer from video tape to DVD (I was watching this on a 20" computer monitor, it may be more noticeable on a larger screen).
My copy was slightly marred by the fact that the retaining clip was broken, so the disc rattles around, but that's not a reflection on the product overall. I'd have given it 5 stars if it weren't for the interlacing.
on 12 July 2015
This is an example of the great at play, as it were - a holiday movie, a comic thriller to follow the tragic seriousness of "Citizen Kane" and "The Magnificent Ambersons". The third Mercury production for RKO, it was also the last - Orson Welles's contract was cancelled - and it was, perhaps for reasons of revenge, thrown away as a B-picture by the studio bosses, who cut it to about 70 minutes. It's full of plot-holes as a result, but maybe that aspect of it was always meant to be a little strange. The tone is most singular; it's a thriller which repeatedly emphasises bizarre humour above suspense and casts all its actors as wildly eccentric characters. Even the hero, Joseph Cotten, and his wife, Ruth Warrick, are oddballs who prefer discussing dentistry in Delaware to sightseeing in exotic Turkey. Everett Sloane is hilarious as a wily Turk who speaks exclusively in antiquated American slang to impress his US contact, whilst Agnes Moorehead plays a snobbish French bourgeoise who appears shrewish but is easily intimidated by her milquetoast husband (Frank Readick), the most unlikely of revolutionaries. There really should be a lot more of Orson Welles himself as the fearsome Colonel Haki of the Secret Police - he told interviewers many times that he thought himself very bad in the film, but he's hilarious as the macho ogre who strides slowly across a crowded room, fixing people with a piercing stare until he shuts the door behind him and immediately whines that he's got this frightful headache, and does anyone have an aspirin? The plot - adapted from an excellent Eric Ambler story by Welles and Cotten (the latter's only screenwriting credit) - doesn't seem to bother anyone much, and you may have to read the book to figure out what's going on. But the characters are so much fun, you won't care much. The director is officially Norman Foster, and Welles always insisted that his friend Foster, whose directorial career is otherwise undistinguished, deserved all the credit. You might wonder, though, if he wasn't being too modest about his own influence, at least on a few very striking scenes.
on 25 February 2010
Having read Eric Ambler's novel, I was interested in seeing how it transferred to the screen. There were, of course, some liberties taken. The most memorable characterisation was Orson Welles' Turkish security man. Welles himself admitted to having somewhat over-acted, but it is an interesting and memorable characterisation. Joseph Cotten is ideal for the central role of the engineer unwittingly caught in the intrigue - a very ordinary, nondescript man caught in events outside his ken.
It is an exciting thriller; but not as memorable as the other unjustly neglected film of an important Ambler novel - 'The Mask of Dimitrios'. As the central engineer's wife calls for him at the end of 'Journey into fear' the film leaves a nice sense that this foray into exotic characters, intrigue and danger is an aberration in the life of a man accustomed to routine and domesticity.
on 23 August 2011
In a darkened room in Istanbul a sinister fat man combs his hair and listens to a crackling 78..... in a smoky nightclub shifty characters watch a dancer in a leopardskin...Nazis are abroad!...down at the docks a dirty tramp steamer prepares to sail.Into this dangerously exotic confusion stumbles an American innocent and his adoring wife......
Sound like your kind of film ? This visually fascinating and terrifically entertaining little film noir was apparently scripted by Joseph Cotten (from Eric Ambler's novel)and he gives his usual beautifully bemused performance.Orson Welles gives an amusing and for him comparatively restrained characterisation to the role of the local police chief Colonel Haki (apart ,that is, from his hat) and the other slalwarts of the Mercury theatre provide splendid support.The plot is enjoyably chaotic ending with a shoot-out in that nightime deluge so necessary to a good film noir.Even the somewhat scratchy print adds to the mood.Great stuff !
Well it says Journey Into Fear was directed by Norman Foster, but many sources say it was actually Orson Welles who directed it. Possible of course since this Mercury Theatre production was produced, co-written (with co-star Joseph Cotton) and starred big Orson himself. But wait! Welles is on record as saying he did no directing on the film and it was his friend Foster in the chair. Except for Welles' own scenes which were directed by anyone handy since they were rushing because Welles was due in Brazil to film It's All True! There has also been re-cuts by Welles, added scenes and a narration at the beginning and end that has been and gone over the years. It's all appropriate confusing conjecture tho since the film itself has a strange quirkiness nestling within its arresting visuals.
The story is based on Eric Ambler's highly regarded spy thriller, and sees Howard Graham (Joseph Cotton) as an American engineer, who after a conference in Turkey finds that someone is trying to kill him. We are then thrust into a murky world of espionage where everybody, their motives, and their identities are suspect. Graham is the classic innocent man abroad, we the viewers, as well as everyone in the story but Graham, knows more than he does! I bet Hitchcock loved this film for it be right up his alley. The majority of the film takes place aboard a cramped dilapidated liner, this gives off a wonderfully claustrophobic feel to proceedings. The stifling nature further enhanced by the fact that 99% of the film is set at night time, with Karl Struss' photography utilising shadows and exuding an almost bizarre menacing sheen. There's some nice technical Welles trademarks in here, such as crane shots (the opening scene is moodily awesome) and Welles' well publicised love of magic is given a cute nod during one particularly impacting sequence.
Along side Cotton the cast contains solid performers like Dolores del Rio, Everett Sloane, Ruth Warwick and Agnes Moorehead. But it's Cotton who rightly makes the big impact. Understated and quiet, his Howard Graham infuriates with his inability to grasp what is going on, or to act at times when it clearly calls for the swift clank of brain being put into gear. A real smart bit of casting here from Foster, Welles or whoever! Journey Into Fear, for texture and technical composition belongs in the film-noir genre, certainly as far as the early cycle goes. But really it's a film for the general cinema purists, at times brilliant, at others chaotic, it remains engrossing from start to finish. See it if you can. 8/10