The Movies-To-Watch List: Ministry of Fear (1944)

Remember the Movies-To-Watch list? Almost a year ago I made a list of ten movies I wanted to see before the end of the year. Well, I failed. For most people, knocking out ten movies is at most the work of a month or so, but for me, a whole year couldn’t do it, with the effort petering out as early as June, sort of. But I am undaunted, and I will not only finish the 2014 list, but I’m going to think of a 2015 list as well.

I actually watched Ministry of Fear right at the tail-end of 2014, but haven’t talked about it until now. It’s a Fritz Lang happening from 1944 about an everyday guy caught up unwittingly in a network of spies.

Honestly, this one didn’t really wow me. This plot, where a schmoe accidentally stumbles into espionage is something that has now been done a million times, and once you’ve seen North by Northwest and Foul Play it’s going to take a lot to make an impression. Since I can’t really say much towards any of the technical aspects of film, because that sort of thing is lost on me, all I have is plot and character. The plot is not only familiar, it’s kind of wacky. The way Ray Milland gets involved is, frankly, absurd, and some of the “twists” along the way (the spy leader is pretty much obvious the moment the character walks on screen) are likewise artificial and goofy. I will say that there is an interesting touch where Milland’s character may or may not have killed his wife, and in really crazy bit with a seance, but neither of those things goes much of anywhere. After M, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, and Metropolis, this one’s kind of a disappointment as far as wanting a really stellar movie goes. Still, it was a fun enough time.

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