Journey into Fear (1942)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller, War Spy Film  |   Release Date - Feb 12, 1943 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 68 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Who knows what Journey Into Fear might have turned out if Orson Welles had, as planned, directed the film (rather than merely co-written and acted in it), and if RKO had not cut it down to a too-swift 69 minutes? As it is, the Norman Foster-directed version is a keen, enticing little thriller with plenty of Welles-ian touches, allegedly (and quite believably) because Welles provided a very detailed storyboard that Foster dutifully followed. Certainly, the picture has the visual look of Welles, with atmospheric lighting and bizarre but fabulous camera angles (created, of course, with the superb cinematographer Karl Struss). It's also quirkily obsessive in a manner that is somehow very Welles-like, though it's difficult to define just how. Even with the cuts the studio dictated, there's enough here to provide plenty of chills and excitement, starting with the skipping record that accompanies the murderer and continuing though the wonderfully tense hotel ledge climax. Joseph Cotton, who co-wrote the screenplay with Welles, is in tip top form as the leading character, giving a quiet performance that is still full of a confused and nervous power. Welles is far too over the top in his role, but it's a very watchable and entertaining turn, and Agnes Moorehead and Jack Moss are scene stealers. Not a great film, but a good thrill ride.