Review: Ministry of Fear

Blu-ray: Ministry of Fear (1944)

Stephen Neale (Ray Milland) has just been released from an asylum during WWII. On his journey home he stops at a village charity fair where a fortune teller informs him of the correct weight in the nearby ‘guess the weight of the cake’ competition. Upon giving the correct weight, he wins the cake and makes his way to the train station.

However, it seems as though there was a case of mistaken identity and Ray was not the man who should have won the cake.

Who should have won it? Why should they have won it? What is in the cake? Why is a Nazi spy ring involved? Is it all just in Neale’s head?

As the narrative to Ministry of Fear progresses, questions are slowly answered…only to be replaced by even more questions as Neale is dragged further into an intricate war plot that he has little control over.

Expertly directed by the great Fritz Lang, Ministry of Fear has a fantastic noir atmosphere that draws you into its world and holds you there until the very last frame. Even the budgetary constraints of using onset scenes instead of exterior locations doesn’t detract from from taking you out of the action.

Ray Milland (as always) gives a stellar performance, and his confusion has you questioning whether Neale is truly sound of mind or that these events are indeed life threatening to him.

Another highly recommended Indicator release, accompanied by more interesting and entertaining special features.

• 2K restoration
• Original mono audio
The BFI Interview with Fritz Lang (1962, 80 mins): archival audio recording of the celebrated filmmaker in conversation with Stanley Reed at London’s National Film Theatre
• Selected scenes commentary with author and film historian Neil Sinyard
Between Two Worlds (2018, 21 mins): a newly filmed appreciation and analysis by film historian Tony Rayns
Creative Allies (2018, 25 mins): Adrian Wootton, OBE, author of The Films of Graham Greene and CEO of Film London, considers the contributions of the people who shaped the film
• Original theatrical trailer
• Image gallery: promotional photography and publicity material
• New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Samm Deighan, Graham Greene on Lang and Ministry of Fear, recollections by Fritz Lang, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
• UK premiere on Blu-ray
• Limited Edition of 3,000 copies

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Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.