Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1944. Paramount Pictures. Screenplay by Seton I. Miller, based on the novel by Graham Greene. Cinematography by Henry Sharp. Produced by Seton I. Miller. Music by Victor Young. Production Design by Hans Dreier, Hal Pereira. Costume Design by Edith Head. Film Editing by Archie Marshek.
Fritz Lang’s powerful visual style has not abated by the time he makes this Hollywood classic, a superbly enjoyable wartime thriller that does not dwindle even when its plotting gets a bit sludgy towards its conclusion. Ray Milland is in top form as a man released from an asylum for the murder of his wife. Almost immediately after stepping beyond its walls he walks right into a dangerous conspiracy involving Nazi spies in England, the MacGuffin being a prize cake at a charity ball that places his life in grave danger. Returning to London from the idyllic countryside, he teams up with Austrian siblings whose charitable organization hosted the event when bodies start piling up and fingers start pointing towards our hero. There is danger lurking in every corner and bathing those corners are the deeply beautiful shadows and murky characters who live in them. There’s also a gorgeous, unforgettable sequence involving a séance attended by the criminal element. Such good stuff, worthy of repeat viewings.