Ministry of Fear (1944) Nazis, Bombs & Spies, Fortune Tellers & Cake!

Ministry of Fear (1944) Ray Milland Fritz Lang movie poster mystery noir drama

Having sat in his room staring at the swinging pendulum of his ticking clock for two years straight, Stephen Neale (Ray Milland) has had time contemplating life and reflecting what the future will hold for him. After being on his own for those years, Stephen fancies the hustle and bustle of London, to be surrounded by people again. He’s probably picked a bad time to visit London, the city is being pounded by the Germans during The Blitz but he’s determined. With a spring in his step he takes off to the local train station. As he leaves his building of residence, the camera pans to show the engraved sign on the wall, Lembridge Asylum!

Ministry of Fear (1944) Ray Milland Fritz Lang Lembridge AsylumMinistry of Fear (1944) Ray Milland Fritz Lang Lembridge Asylum wall sign

Tagline – Menace… Behind every shadow! Suspense… In Every Move!

With time to wait for the train and the sound of happy voices, he excitedly investigates a church fete run by volunteers of a charity, The Mothers of Free Nations. With all the ladies wanting his attention and money donations, Stephen is whisked from one stall to another. Before he knows it, he is standing in front of his destiny, the one thing that will change this day into a living nightmare of madness, Nazi spy rings, espionage, fortune tellers, hit-men, bombs, murder, guns, Batman’s servant! and a whole bunch of untrustworthy, dodgy looking people.

Ministry of Fear (1944) Ray Milland fortune teller tentMinistry of Fear (1944) Ray Milland fete fare guess the cake weight noir

What on Earth could be that one thing that starts this horrible chain of events?…….. A cake!! A blooming cake I Tell you!

Poor Stephen Neale has an eventful series of misadventures ahead of him and every turn he takes, it brings another adventure, as he crosses paths with a series of mysterious characters. From the likes of brother and sister duo Carla Hilfe (Marjorie Reynolds) and Willi Hilfe (Carl Esmond), private detective George Rennit (Erskine Sanford), a shadowy figure (Percy Waram), a posh looking stern chap called Mr Cost (Dan Duryea), a top psychiatrist called Dr Forrester (Alan Napier) and the crazy beautiful and mysterious spirit medium Mrs Bellane (Hillary Brooke).

Ministry of Fear (1944) Carla Hilfe (Marjorie Reynolds) and Willi Hilfe (Carl Esmond)Ministry of Fear (1944) spirit medium Mrs Bellane (Hillary Brooke) at home

There a hell of a lot going on in this mystery drama, racing along at blistering speed. With everyone looking mighty suspicious and danger lurking around every corner, can our hero work out WTF is going on? Or could it all be in his mind, remember he has only recently been released from a mental asylum? Whatever it maybe, it sure is entertaining being onboard this crazy train journey through the Ministry Of Fear.

Ministry of Fear (1944) Ray Milland book shop naziMinistry of Fear (1944)a shadowy figure (Percy Waram)

Things I’ve learnt.

  • Directed by Fritz Lang whom I’m slowly working my way through his films. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt and The Big Heat both recent to me and amazing. I have Hangmen Also Die and M on the starter blocks ready to race on to my screens. Plus I saw it stoned as a youth but I really need to see Metropolis again. Sure to appreciate it on a whole new level. Please feel free to recommend others.
  • The images and cinematography are just divine, especially early shots of Ray Milland and the Medium Hillary Brooke.

Ministry of Fear (1944) spirit medium Mrs Bellane (Hillary Brooke)

  • Made me chuckle to myself as Ray Milland sits with the fortune teller at the beginning and I thought, hey, in the future you will be switching roles and become the all seeing eye in X The Man With X-Ray Eyes.
  • Based on the novel of the same name by Graham Greene. A man who penned many classics which were adapted into film. From Brighton Rock, Our Man In Havana, The Quiet American and also wrote the story for director Carol Reed noir classic, The Third Man. With knowing Soviet spy Kim Philby and connections with M16, traveling the world, to meeting Fidel Castro, Graham Greene sounds like he saw a lot of life. Would like to see a documentary on him if there is one!

Ministry of Fear (1944) Ray Milland Fritz Lang movie opening title screen shot

I really enjoyed this fun twisting mystery noir drama. I know I’m late to the party but how much fun I’m having catching up with all these fantastic movies. If you’ve seen it or go off and see it, feel free to let me know what you thought if you wish.

Where will movieland take me next? Who knows!  Thanks for popping by. Mikey The Wolf

16 thoughts on “Ministry of Fear (1944) Nazis, Bombs & Spies, Fortune Tellers & Cake!

  1. Fab film! Milland was in quite a few good flicks in the 40’s. This is one of my favourites of his.

    If you want more Lang, then do try the following films: Scarlet Street. House By The River. The Woman In The Window. Moonfleet. Cloak And Dagger. M and The Testament Of Dr. Mabuse are both must see films, they are both total masterpieces. Happy viewing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do love Ray Milland. … And as if my magic I now have a whole list of Lang films to work my way through. Much obliged as always Maddy. I still have Hang Men Must Die you recommended sometime back. Too many films, not enough time but I will get to them. Thank you

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  2. The cinema of Lang has much to offer. Plenty of great Noir efforts and his early German films are essential. The Eddie Robinson films and I too like Moonfleet. Western Union I’d add to the list as well.

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  3. I loved this one, too (I reviewed it a few years back)…a cool mix of war espionage and film noir. Lots of cool set pieces, and some brutality, too. As for Lang, of the films of his not mentioned above, I’d give ‘Fury’ a look…I thought it was interesting and very well done.

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    • It was a very exciting film and I do like me some Ray Milland……… Top recommend Todd, thank you for that. Fury is now pushed right up my to watch soon list. I did not know those one. Be good to see a young Spencer Tracy though I bet he’s one of the actors who looks way into his 50’s when they are really in their 20s. Slowly working my way through Lang, all been excellent so far. Much obliged sir.

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    • I watched Fury last night. Todd man what a film. Damn I wasn’t expecting it to get so brutal so fast and what being a film from 1936!!! Wow.. Great recommend enjoyed it immensely and another tick of the Fritz Lang list. Top stuff

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      • Hey, cool that you watched that one and liked it! And I too was surprised at how brutal it was…especially when it came down to the locals wanting to burn Tracy alive…and they end up killing his dog! Now it’s time for you to check out…The Narrow Margin!

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