Journey into Fear and The Bribe

Last night’s offering was a foreign intrigue double bill. First up, the atmospheric and delirious thriller JOURNEY INTO FEAR.

This movie makes absolutely no sense, but I couldn’t have cared less. It was a weird, wild ride and I enjoyed every minute of it. If you’re looking for a tightly constructed plot, this one isn’t for you, but if you want shady characters, exotic women and shadowy, noirish atmosphere you’ll get it. In spades.
An engineer played by Joseph Cotten is in Istanbul on some sort of gun-related business (this wasn’t exactly clear to me) with his sweet clueless wife when he discovers that Nazi agents are after him. He goes on the lam, pursued by a creepy, fat and bespectacled assassin. He finds himself mixed up with all sorts of weird and wonderful characters, including sexy dancer Delores Del Rio. How about this astounding leopard costume?

Director (or partial director, since many scenes were apparently reshot/recut by the studio) Orson Welles also plays a small role as Colonel Haki, the Turkish head of intelligence who is trying to help our beleaguered hero while lusting after his wife. Really there’s no point even trying to summarize the plot on this one, but it’s definitely worth watching for all the wonderful, quirky characters.

Second in line was THE BRIBE, staring Robert Taylor and Ava Gardener.

In addition to the foreign intrigue angle, the other thing these two films had in common was the fact that both featured shady, slovenly fat men who were far more memorable than the bland, hunky heroes. While JOURNEY’s fat hit man was silent and menacing, Charles Laughton’s “pie-shaped” henchman is full of slippery, scheming double-talk as he tries to convince cop Taylor and his married lover Gardner to betray each other. Again, the plot is almost beside the point. Something to do with stolen airplane engines being exported and sold on a sultry and obviously fictional Central American island called “Carlota.” But again, I really didn’t care. Taylor was pretty wooden, especially in contrast to Laughton and Vincent Price, but I still enjoyed the hell out of this film. I especially loved the final chase through the carnival crowd and the big shoot out amid exploding fireworks. Recommended.

Next in line, more McGraw (and can you ever really get enough McGraw?) with LOOPHOLE and KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE.

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