In Journey into Fear, Orson Welles’ third release for RKO, he handles only the production reins and takes one of the character leads but leaves direction in the hands of Norman Foster. Picture attempts to catch attention through series of dramatic peaks, but misses that mark by a considerable margin, being too stagey and talky.
Joseph Cotten is the pivotal character – an American naval ordnance engineer returning to the US from Istanbul.
Welles delivers an above-par characterization as the Turkish secret police chief. Cotten is okay in the lead, despite the fact the writers present him as a rather weakling hero throughout.
Direction by Foster is deliberate and slow, pausing too much on unimportant incidentals. Adaptation of Eric Ambler’s novel was prepared by Welles and Cotten, and there’s nothing new in technique or treatment.