Every now and then I like to review a movie that doesn’t get much attention these days.
Released by RKO in 1943 this Mercury Theatre Production featuring and regarded to have been part directed by Orson Welles although he always maintained the film remained Norman Foster’s. I had high hopes for Journey into Fear but despite a talented cast was left disappointed by what is a rather pedestrian thriller. Joseph Cotton plays a munitions expert sent to Turkey to assist that countries Navy in the ongoing conflict but a company contact encourages him to enjoy a night out and while in a nightclub an attempt is made on his life. The head of the Turkish secret police bundles him off without his wife or any luggage on a passenger ship but are the other passengers all they seem?
Welles is fun as the Turkish police chief but other characters including Cotton’s hero are either bland or poorly developed. Perhaps the film was effected by Welles strained relationship with the studio which was about to come to an end, part of the release of Welles from his deal included that he re-cut the conclusion and add a narration to Journey Into Fear. Another possible strained relationship was that of Welles and his at the time partner Dolores Del Rio who is one of the bright points of the movie but doesn’t get nearly enough time to develope a meaningful character. On board ship the feel is claustrophobic but the movie rarely generates any genuine tension from this situation with the characters being so caricatured I kept expecting the movie to turn into a comedy.
The cast of characters on include the aforementioned Del Rio as a nightclub singer, Everett Sloane who most will remember from his role in Citizen Kane as the sleazy company contact and Agnes Moorehead as a fussy wifeand busy body she also appeared in Kane but is most remembered by modern audiences from re-runs of Bewitched where she played Samantha’s mother Endora.
Many texts on the movie state the film was savagely cut by the studio and its running time of just 70 minutes seem to support this, however we can only judge a movie on what we see and in it’s present form this film is worth seeking out only for Welles obsessives or fans of Joseph Cotton or Del Rio
The movie never really gripped me it lacked action, a truly memorable villain or any kind of exciting twists and turns. A lacklustre 2/5