Ministry of Fear (1944)



Film Noir?

Fritz Lang?

Of course it’s good!

I will say that fears of being committed to the asylum have greatly decreased since this movie was made.  I sort of assumed it was a straight spy movie that happened to have a former asylum inmate.  I suppose given the types of movies made around this time, there would actually be some mystery as to whether it was all in his head or not.  Then again, in Graham Greene’s novel, it’s less about spies and asylums than actual fear and inner torment for both Arthur and Anna.  I’m sure the book is good but that would have been a drag of a movie.  I would imagine that fan’s of the book were terribly disappointed by the plot changes in the movie.

For me, it made me question Tolkien.  When the blind man is discussing the air raid, he pronounces it “Nahz-ees”.  For some reason this reminded me, phonetically, of the Nazgûl as well as practically (evil death from horseback (WWI) and then the air? (WWII)).  I know he served in WWI, wrote The Hobbit afterwards and then proceeded to write the Lord of the Rings during and after WWII.  So I looked a bit online and found that I’m not the only one with this concept although the issue hasn’t been given a great deal of consideration.  If The Hobbit is Tolkien’s entrée into his own world and his own romanticized adventures during WWI, then Lord of the Rings would certainly be his careful re-imagining of Der Ring des Nibelungen (a defiance of Hitler’s appropriation of Wagner) as a fusion of his UK (pre-WWII and during) with his already established fantasy Middle-Earth.  I think I need to go re-read those books!

It’s a captivating film noir spy thriller.  It doesn’t quite elevate to the heights of other movies in chronological novelty or uniqueness of form but it was a really well done movie and should certainly be watched by any aficionado.