Sunday, January 30, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake

Ministry of Fear (1944) - Lang
Ministry of fear
Steve Neil (Ray Milland) is having a strange day. He gets released from an asylum after serving 2 years for poisoning his terminally ill wife. It was a mercy killing. Then he accidentally gets embroiled in a complicated Nazi plot involving a cake he won at a fair while waiting for a train to go to London 'to lead a normal, quiet life' and for some reason, everyone wants his cake: at first the ladies at the fair want it back, then on the train, it gets stolen by a man who pretends to be blind, who then dies in an air-raid. What the hell is going on?

This tight Graham Greene espionage thriller has great atmosphere and tension throughout with air-raid prone rainy London as a backdrop. The noir lighting in this film is just as sharp as Milland's hawky features. Highlights are the one involving the séance table and the night rooftop gunfight in the rain. I wish Lang could've elaborated on the nature of hypnosis in the beginning and the wall clock pendulum and séance element a little more because most of the time Ministry of Fear feels very much like a good Hitchcock film. One can easily see the film's influence on Coen Brothers. Anyone care for this slice of cake?