4 July 2014 | Coventry
For your cast only...
Quite a lot of movies on my wish-list are merely just there because of the impressive ensemble cast they have. "Journey into Fear", for example, has an amazing cast but I guess the lack of availability and solid fan base already suggests that the film isn't a hidden cult treasure. The plot is promising enough, adapted from an early 40's novel by Eric Ambler, and that same novel already got turned into a long-feature film in 1943. That film also has a terrific cast (like Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles and Agnes Moorehead) and presumably it's a lot better than this version, which suffers tremendously from lousy editing and an overall lack of tension and credibility. The opening minutes are downright terrific, with no less than two imaginative assassination attempts in a car and in a train. They're aimed at Howard Graham (Sam Waterston), an American engineer in Turkey who just made an important oil discovery in the mountains. Because of the information in his head, he becomes a walking bullseye, so the Turkish government subtly escorts him out of the country by boat. On board, he encounters a variety of individuals that might be allies, secret agents or hired killers. Once Sam Waterston board the ship, the excitement is exchanged for a dull and needlessly talkative middle-section and the only aspect to enjoy are the veteran actors in supportive roles. Appearing as the passengers are Shelley Winters, Yvette Mimieux, Ian McShane, Donald Pleasance and Vincent Price. Especially the last two names convinced me to obsessively track this film down, simply because you know one of them (or maybe even both) will depict a formidable villain. The opening and finale are more than entertaining, but the rest of "Journey into Fear" lacks pace, suspense and integrity. The main issue is that few of the characters appear to believe the roles they play. The hero, for instance, never truly seems to have the titular "fear" for his life. He remains rather calm even though murderers may lure behind every corner and he joyously socializes with everyone on board. This is definitely a disappointment, partially also because the copy I own has bad picture quality and the sound is nearly inaudible, but hey
I can scrap another Vincent & Donald movie off my list!