Journey into Fear (1943)

68 or 71 mins | Drama | 12 February 1943

Director:

Norman Foster

Producer:

Orson Welles

Cinematographer:

Karl Struss

Editor:

Mark Robson

Production Designers:

Albert D'Agostino, Mark-Lee Kirk

Production Company:

RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

Before the opening credits or film title appear, a fat man, later identified as the assassin, "Peter Banat," places a silencer on his gun as a broken phonograph record playing "C'est mon couer" is heard on the soundtrack. According to pre-production news items in HR , RKO paid $10,000 in frozen British funds for the rights to English author Eric Ambler's novel. An Apr 1941 news item notes that Ben Hecht was slated to script the film and David Hempstead to produce. A Feb 1941 HR news item adds that Michele Morgan was to star and Robert Stevenson to direct. Hempstead originally wanted Fred Astaire to play the lead, but later considered Robert Montgomery and Fred MacMurray. By early Jul 1941, according to a HR news item, studio chief George J. Schaefer was trying to convince Orson Welles to act in and direct the film, but Welles was wavering between working on this film and Louisiana Hayride , a story about Huey Long, which was never made. By mid-Jul 1941, HR news items identified Journey into Fear as an Orson Welles project, with Welles slated to produce and direct under his Mercury Productions banner. Ellis St. Joseph and Richard Collins were to write the script for the film, which now was to star Joseph Cotten, who, according to HR , was being groomed for stardom after his appearance in Citizen Kane (see above entry). The picture was to fulfill part of Welles's four-picture commitment to RKO. A Sep 1941 tentative shooting schedule contained in the RKO Archive Script Files at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections ... More Less

Before the opening credits or film title appear, a fat man, later identified as the assassin, "Peter Banat," places a silencer on his gun as a broken phonograph record playing "C'est mon couer" is heard on the soundtrack. According to pre-production news items in HR , RKO paid $10,000 in frozen British funds for the rights to English author Eric Ambler's novel. An Apr 1941 news item notes that Ben Hecht was slated to script the film and David Hempstead to produce. A Feb 1941 HR news item adds that Michele Morgan was to star and Robert Stevenson to direct. Hempstead originally wanted Fred Astaire to play the lead, but later considered Robert Montgomery and Fred MacMurray. By early Jul 1941, according to a HR news item, studio chief George J. Schaefer was trying to convince Orson Welles to act in and direct the film, but Welles was wavering between working on this film and Louisiana Hayride , a story about Huey Long, which was never made. By mid-Jul 1941, HR news items identified Journey into Fear as an Orson Welles project, with Welles slated to produce and direct under his Mercury Productions banner. Ellis St. Joseph and Richard Collins were to write the script for the film, which now was to star Joseph Cotten, who, according to HR , was being groomed for stardom after his appearance in Citizen Kane (see above entry). The picture was to fulfill part of Welles's four-picture commitment to RKO. A Sep 1941 tentative shooting schedule contained in the RKO Archive Script Files at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library lists Welles as director, but by the time the production began in Jan 1942, Norman Foster was credited as director. According to a news item in HR , by late Jan 1942, Welles's part in the film had been condensed to three to four days of intensive filming so that he could leave for Brazil on 5 Feb to begin production on It's All True . While rushing to finish this film, Welles was also completing The Magnificent Ambersons (See Entry). In a modern interview, Welles stated that because he was in a hurry to leave for South America, the ledge sequence at the end of the film was directed by whomever was closest to the camera. Welles said, "For the first five sequences, I was on the set and decided the angles; from then on, I often said where to put the camera and described the framing, made light tests....I designed the film but can't properly be called the director." A news item in HR adds that Welles also worked on the script with Joseph Cotten, but Welles is not credited onscreen for his contribution.
       On 6 Mar 1942, six days before production was completed, a HR news item reported that the raw footage was to be flown to Rio de Janiero for Welles to edit. According to another HR item, the film was in the final dubbing and editing stage by May 1942, under the supervision of Jack Moss, Welles's Mercury Productions partner. Moss also played the role of "Banat" in the film. By Jun 1942, however, George J. Schaefer, the studio head who brought Welles to Hollywood, had been ousted and replaced by Charles Koerner, a pragmatic theater manager who, according to the NYT , stressed "showmanship rather than genius." By the end of Jun 1942, the Koerner regime notified Welles that his contract with the studio had been terminated and he was to return from Brazil. In early Jul 1942, a news item in HR reported that the studio had confiscated Journey into Fear , which was now being edited "without the benefit of those who worked on the picture." In late Aug, according to another HR news item, the studio decided to delay the release of the picture after the critics panned it at a tradeshow. A NYT article adds that as part of his final settlement with the studio, Welles agreed to recut the last reel and film some additional scenes. Materials contained in the Script Files reveal that Welles added Cotten's voice-over scenes at the beginning and end of the picture and devised the pre-credit sequence.
       According to an article in NYT and an unidentified contemporary source in the AMPAS production files, several of the actors in the film were employees of Mercury Productions. Robert Meltzer, who played the ship's captain, was a writer at Mercury. Shifra Haran, who played "Mrs. Haller," was Welles's personal secretary. Herb Drake and Bill Roberts, who played the ship's stewards, worked in Mercury's publicity department, and Welles's chauffeur, Eddie Howard, appeared in a bit role. Modern sources credit George J. Schaefer as the film's executive producer. In 1976, a Canadian production company produced another version of Ambler's novel, directed by Daniel Mann and starring Sam Waterston, Zero Mostel and Yvette Mimieux. According to an article in LAT , in 1966, Ambler was working on a television series based on his book to be produced by Joan Harrison and starring Jeff Hunter. That series was never made. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
8 Aug 1942.
---
Daily Variety
5 Aug 42
p. 3.
Film Daily
7 Aug 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Feb 1941.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Apr 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
9 May 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jul 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 41
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 41
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jul 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Jan 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Mar 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jul 42
p. 981., 15524
Hollywood Reporter
5 Aug 42
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 42
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
13 Jan 1966.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
8 Aug 42
p. 827.
New York Times
15 Nov 1942.
---
New York Times
13 Mar 1943.
---
New York Times
19 Mar 43
p. 15.
Variety
5 Aug 42
p. 27.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Mercury Productions, Inc.
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
STAND INS
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Journey into Fear by Eric Ambler (London, 1940).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 February 1943
Production Date:
6 January--12 March 1942
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
12 February 1943
Copyright Number:
LP11909
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
68 or 71
Length(in feet):
6,127
Country:
United States
PCA No:
8048
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Howard Graham, an American armaments engineer working with the Turkish Navy, writes a letter to his wife Stephanie, explaining the perilous circumstances that led to their recent separation in Istanbul: While en route to the United States, the Grahams stop in Istanbul and are met by S. Kopeikin, a Turkish employee of Graham's company, who under the pretense of discussing business, takes Graham to a nightclub. There Graham meets the Eurasian dancer Josette Maretl and her partner Gogo. When a bullet meant for Graham kills the nightclub's magician instead, Colonel Haki, the head of the Turkish secret police, comes to investigate. Haki is concerned for Graham's safety because the engineer has irreplaceable knowledge about the armament needs of the Turkish Navy, and consequently, his demise would mean a delay in arming the Navy. After showing Graham a photograph of Peter Banat, an assassin hired to kill him by the Nazi agent Muller, Haki tells Graham that he has arranged safe passage for him aboard a tramp steamer bound for Batumi. When Graham protests being separated from Stephanie, Haki assures him that he will accompany her to Batumi. At dockside, Kopeikin bids Graham farewell and presents him with a pistol, which Graham then hides under his mattress. On board the ship, Graham meets his fellow passengers: Josette and Gogo; Kuvetli, a Turkish tobacco salesman; Professor Haller, an archeologist; and Madame Mathews and her socialist husband. Lonely and frightened, Graham is befriended by Josette. When the ship makes its first stop, Graham cables Stephanie to meet him in Batumi on Saturday. After the ship leaves the port, Graham is alerted to the arrival of a new ... +


Howard Graham, an American armaments engineer working with the Turkish Navy, writes a letter to his wife Stephanie, explaining the perilous circumstances that led to their recent separation in Istanbul: While en route to the United States, the Grahams stop in Istanbul and are met by S. Kopeikin, a Turkish employee of Graham's company, who under the pretense of discussing business, takes Graham to a nightclub. There Graham meets the Eurasian dancer Josette Maretl and her partner Gogo. When a bullet meant for Graham kills the nightclub's magician instead, Colonel Haki, the head of the Turkish secret police, comes to investigate. Haki is concerned for Graham's safety because the engineer has irreplaceable knowledge about the armament needs of the Turkish Navy, and consequently, his demise would mean a delay in arming the Navy. After showing Graham a photograph of Peter Banat, an assassin hired to kill him by the Nazi agent Muller, Haki tells Graham that he has arranged safe passage for him aboard a tramp steamer bound for Batumi. When Graham protests being separated from Stephanie, Haki assures him that he will accompany her to Batumi. At dockside, Kopeikin bids Graham farewell and presents him with a pistol, which Graham then hides under his mattress. On board the ship, Graham meets his fellow passengers: Josette and Gogo; Kuvetli, a Turkish tobacco salesman; Professor Haller, an archeologist; and Madame Mathews and her socialist husband. Lonely and frightened, Graham is befriended by Josette. When the ship makes its first stop, Graham cables Stephanie to meet him in Batumi on Saturday. After the ship leaves the port, Graham is alerted to the arrival of a new passenger by the musical strains of a record player, and Haller warns him that Kuvetli is not who he claims to be. At dinner that night, the new passenger joins Graham at his table, and the engineer recognizes him as Peter Banat. Panicked, Graham tells the ship's captain that there is an assassin on board, but the captain thinks that he is demented and laughs in his face. Upon discovering that his gun is missing, Graham turns to Josette for help. After listening to Graham's story, Josette offers to have Gogo detain Banat in a card game while Graham searches his cabin. When Graham returns to his own cabin, he is met by Haller, who identifies himself as Muller. Haller offers to spare Graham's life if the engineer will delay his return to the States for six weeks. Explaining that the Germans seek only a postponement in the communication of Graham's recommendations for arming the Turkish Navy, Haller suggests that he check into a hospital with a case of "typhoid." Before departing, Haller informs Graham that Kuvetli is a Turkish agent sent by Haki. After Haller leaves, Kuvetli contacts Graham and instructs him to consent to Haller's plan. Kuvetli also tells Graham that when the ship docks in Batumi, he should hide while the Turkish agent arranges for the arrest of Haller and Banat. Graham follows Kuvetli's instructions and agrees to Haller's terms, but when he goes to contact the Turk, he discovers the agent has been murdered and hears the familiar strains of a musical recording. Desperate, Graham asks Mathews to deliver a message to the Turkish counsel. Mathews agrees and offers Graham a pocket knife and an umbrella for protection. When the boat docks, Banat and Haller escort Graham ashore and into a waiting car. As they are driving, one of the car's tires goes flat, and when the driver leaves his seat to examine the tire, Graham sticks the pocket knife into the horn, causing it to sound. During the ensuing commotion, Graham jumps into the driver's seat, crashes the car into a store window and escapes his captors. Then as a storm rages that night, Graham runs into a hotel and joins his wife in her room, but finds Haller and Banat waiting for him. Thinking that Haller is a representative from her husband's company, Stephanie leaves them to discuss business while she joins Haki for a drink in the hotel bar. Soon after, Gogo, who has been trying to make a deal with Graham for Josette's "services," knocks on his hotel room door. When Gogo opens the door, Banat shoots at him, sending him scurrying to the lobby for help. Graham uses the diversion to jump out the window onto the cornice of the building, where he is followed by Haller and Banat. At that moment, Haki appears on the ledge and shoots Haller. Banat then wounds Haki and turns his gun on Graham. Blinded by the rain, Banat misses his target, and after emptying his pistol, the two men struggle and Banat falls from the ledge to his death. Safe in the hotel, Graham finishes writing the letter to his wife that he began on board the ship, and when Haki tells him that Stephanie is waiting for him upstairs, Graham tears up the now completed letter and joins her. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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