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Hidden Fear is an international noir thriller set in Denmark. Filmed on location in Copenhagen, Hidden Fear was released in 1957 at what most consider to be the tail end of the noir cycle. This film is chock full of labyrinthine streets and corridors, spontaneous fistfights with men or slapping women, following people to find clues and other expected tropes of the genre.
The incident that ignites the mystery is the death of a man named Martinelli. Mike Brent, an American, comes to Denmark after his sister Susan is arrested under suspicion of murder. Mike is a classic "fish out of water" who gets embroiled in an international intrigue, in the vein of many of the Hitchcock spy thriller films.
Though Hidden Fear has some of the grit and personal isolation and male displacement associated with classic Film Noir these elements as presented in this film feel more like pantomime or even borderline spoof. Perhaps director André De Toth knowingly presented the story humorously to an audience who had become so familiar with these ideas that the concepts were cliché. This plus the low budget feel gives Hidden Fear a bit of a comedic or television aesthetic, a place where the lead John Payne (as Mike Brent) subsequently began to spend more time as a performer.
Director André De Toth is known for making some very fine B movies in a variety of genres: noir films like Dark Water, westerns such as Day of the Outlaw and horror films such as House of Wax, an early 3D benchmark of quality starring Vincent Prince. Martin Scorsese has claimed House of Wax as a favorite. A common theme in De Toth's work is failed love and trust, this theme is also on full display in Hidden Fear. De Toth was born in Hungary in 1913 and began as a playwright and actor before studying the other aspects of cinema. He worked for a time under the wing of Alexander Korda so has an international pedigree and the genre chops appropriate to make this film.
Visually many of the locations seem chosen for their beauty. In what feels like a "post card" scenic approach to cinematography, the film transports the viewer to beautiful places in Denmark without having to leave the comfort of their viewing space. This would have worked much better in color like Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief for example or Stanley Donen's Charade amongst others. Shooting in color was a luxury this film production probably couldn't afford.
Touted on the rear cover as "Newly re-mastered in HD!" Overall still looks a bit washed out with a fair amount of dust speckles and print damage. Not a bad looking print, but not an amazing revelation. I doubt much money or time was spent remastering this particular release although I've seen much worse. It's overall on the clean side and better than a DVD presentation would be. I suppose for a film of its age and relative obscurity it's about the best we can hope for currently. It's presented in 1:85:1 aspect ratio in 1080p.
There's nothing particularly wonderful about the sound presented here. Mostly clean, not a large amount of pops or hisses common in old prints. Some of the dialogue or effects are a bit muffled, other parts have an echo. I would assume this is because the international production mixes sound recorded on location and other sound recorded on a Foley stage or ADR booth. The track is presented in English Language DTS. Some of the Danish performers are dubbed into English. Overall a fine presentation.
These trailers are the only items to found under the submenu titled "BONUS"
• Hidden Fear Trailer
• 99 River Street Trailer
• Shield For Murder Trailer
• He Ran All The Way Trailer
Hidden Fear hits some familiar noir notes, and in that way offers very little in the way of surprises. This is especially true if noir is a genre you're already familiar with. If you like chase scenes, there's one in the end that's fairly well choreographed. The film is technically well accomplished with interesting compositions. It suffers from a mediocre screenplay and fairly perfunctory performances.
Overall Hidden Fear feels more linked to cold war thrillers that began around this same time such as Kiss Me Deadly and later with Hitchcock's Torn Curtain than noir. The film never quite reaches the level of quality of the best of either genre. For fans of De Toth or Payne could be Recommended because of the decent quality of the print, but those who haven't seen the film would be advised to view the film before deciding on a purchase.
Rating: Rent it