Ministry of Fear

"We’ve been patriotically slaving for three years to help a spy ring!"

“Ministry of Fear” was Fritz Lang’s third film of four anti-Nazi movies that he made, but it feels less anti-Nazi and more just straight up Hitchcockian thriller. And while Lang didn’t like the final result of the film and Graham Greene, who wrote the novel on which the movie’s based, also didn’t like the film, it’s a very fun film to watch and feels a bit like Lang lite. 

Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we wrap up our Lang series with his 1944 film, “Ministry of Fear.” We talk about why this film works for us, even if it still has story problems like he’s had in all of his other films so far, and debate as to what it was that caused him and Greene to dislike it so much. We discuss Seton Miller, the screenwriter and producer of this movie, and look at the control he exerted over this film, forcing Lang to make the film Miller wanted, right down to the last shot. We chat about the performances from Ray Milland, Marjorie Reynolds, Carl Esmond, Hillary Brooke, Percy Waram and most notably Dan Duryea, and look at what they each bring to the table. We touch on the cinematography by Henry Sharp, a studio contract DP Lang had to work with but still someone who ended up making this film feel very noirish and Langian. And we discuss our feelings about Lang as a director, looking at what we got out of this series and analyzing Lang’s work compared with how he ran his sets.

It’s a fun film to watch, even if it doesn’t feel as important as some of Lang’s earlier films. We have a great time talking about it on the show this week, commenting that this certainly will be an easy movie to put on down the road to enjoy all over again. So check out the movie then tune in!

Film Sundries

Trailers of the Week

Andy's Trailer: Phantom Boy — "I love animated films in general, but after having so much fun with “A Cat in Paris,” I can’t wait to see what these filmmakers do with this story. A boy in a wheelchair who can project himself out of his body and does so to help a detective bring down some gangsters? It sounds like the stuff I dreamt up as a child and they pulled it straight from my head. I’m very much looking forward to this one."

Pete's Trailer: The Wailing — "Regular listeners know I’m not usually one for horror, but this film has that visual vibe I find appealing, hopefully more of a thriller than a grotesque, and it’s in Korean, so I’m banking on that helpful degree of abstraction."