Ministry of Fear (1944) - Rotten Tomatoes

Ministry of Fear1944

Ministry of Fear (1944)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Ministry of Fear Photos

Movie Info

An innocent man is drawn into a web of espionage when he unwittingly comes into possession of a crucial piece of microfilm in this shadowy, ominous film noir. Fritz Lang's adaptation of Graham Greene's novel is filled with unusual touches, beginning with the fact that protagonist Stephen Neale (Ray Milland) has just been released from a mental asylum. To celebrate his return to the real world, he visits a local carnival, only to accidentally receive a "prize" meant for a Nazi agent. When he discovers the error, he turns for help to a detective, whose investigations only make the matter more complicated. Neale soon winds up on the run from both the Nazis and the police, who mistakenly believe him guilty of murder. Lang's famous expressionistic style is somewhat muted here, but Henry Sharp's crisp black-and-white cinematography sets a suitably unsettling mood, and the twists and double-crosses of Greene's story unfold at an appropriately quick pace. While it does not reach the same level of timeless classic as Carol Reed's adaptation of Greene's The Third Man four years later, Ministry of Fear stands as a well-made, thoroughly gripping and intelligent example of film noir.


Ray Milland
as Stephen Neale
Marjorie Reynolds
as Carla Hilfe
Carl Esmond
as Willi Hilfe
Dan Duryea
as Cost/Travers
Hillary Brooke
as Mrs. Bellane
Percy Waram
as Insp. Prentice
Alan Napier
as Dr. Forrester
Erskine Sanford
as Mr. Rennit
Thomas Louden
as Mr. Newland
Aminta Dyne
as 1st Mrs. Bellaire
Rita Johnson
as 2nd Mrs. Bellaire
Eustace Wyatt
as Blind Man
Mary Field
as Miss Penteel
Byron Foulger
as Mr. Newby
Lester Matthews
as Dr. Morton
Helena Grant
as Mrs. Merrick
Connie Leon
as Lady Purchaser of Cake
Eric Wilton
as Scotland Yard Man
Boyd Irwin
as Scotland Yard Man
Frank Baker
as Scotland Yard Man
Colin Kenny
as Scotland Yard Man
Wilson Benge
as Air Raid Warden
Olaf Hytten
as Clerk in Tailor Shop
Cyril Delavanti
as Railway Ticket Agent
Matthew Boulton
as Government Official
David Clyde
as English Bobby
Bruce Carruthers
as Police Clerk
Clive Morgan
as Man in Tailor's Shop
George Broughton
as Man in Tailor's Shop
Grayce Hampton
as Lady with Floppy Hat
Ottola Nesmith
as Woman at Admission Gate
Jessica Newcombe
as Cake Booth Lady
Anne Curson
as Lady with Children
Harry Allen
as Delivery Man
Arthur Blake
as Officer
Edward Fielding
as Executive
View All

Critic Reviews for Ministry of Fear

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (4)

Lang at his finest and purest.

October 15, 2014 | Full Review…

Fritz Lang, a master at getting the most out of mystery, intrigue and melodrama, in his direction apparently didn't have his way from beginning to end on Ministry of Fear.

July 22, 2008 | Full Review…

This is a wonderfully atmospheric, almost expressionistic thriller, packed with memorable moments.

June 24, 2006
Top Critic

Plant yourself well in a firm seat and keep your over-coat on when you go to see this thriller, for it dumps you and douses you fast.

March 25, 2006 | Full Review…

While the séance sequence ultimately plays like a slapdash sequence from Clue, it is Lang's artistry that really elevates Ministry of Fear from a meandering espionage noir.

November 16, 2020 | Full Review…

An astonishing combination of clumsy, false adaptation, unsure direction, and mis-casting, has changed Greene's Ministry of Fear into an ordinary spy film, with a few expensive and Hitchcock flourishes.

October 2, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Ministry of Fear

I don't really care that the story is ridiculous, Lang directed the film beautifully (Is there any other director who used contrasting shadow and light so well?) and I like that its a WWII propaganda film, that doesn't really feel like a propaganda film . . . probably because the "heroes" and "villains" are less clearly defined than most stuff from that era.

Alec Barniskis
Alec Barniskis

Super Reviewer


Ministry of Fear is easily one of Fritz Lang's high points of the 1940s. He does a great job capturing WWII London with a dreadful mood. The chase scene in the beginning as well as the seance scene is worth it alone. The cast is good, but the set design is superb and if my senses aren't failing me I'd say that Ministry of Fear is a precursor to North By Northwest. Overall, the setup is good, the middle dwindles a bit and the last few minutes are kind of weak (with a slightly embarrassing ending) but if you can get your hands on a copy of this movie it's worth the time.

Michael Gildea
Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

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