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Journey into Fear (1943): Restored Cut - BD25
Project Info

While Citizen Kane and, to a lesser extent, Orson Welles's follow-up The Magnificent Ambersons are well regarded today, the 1943 film Journey into Fear is often forgotten and extraordinarily underrated.

Despite not receiving official directorial credit, Welles created in Journey into Fear a unique thriller with extraordinary long takes and Wellesian aural flourishes. His third and final feature film at RKO stars most of the familiar Mercury Theater ensemble- Joseph Cotten, Ruth Warrick, Agnes Moorehead, Everett Sloane, and, of course, Orson Welles himself.

A more pulpy adventure than the previous two endeavors, it follows an American engineer in Turkey, who desperately tries to avoid assassination by Nazi spies on a ship full of colorful characters.

In 1943, Welles was no longer in good graces with RKO (perhaps a factor in his lack of official directorial credit). Like The Magnificent Ambersons, Journey into Fear was the subject of radical studio cuts in order to truncate the length. However, unlike Welles's second film, Journey into Fear today survives in two extant versions - a European cut and an American cut, modified by Welles himself, which contains narration and an additional ending coda.

This restored version collects all footage still surviving and compiling it into one unified cut, not unlike Universal's official Touch of Evil Restored Cut or The Munich Film Archive's Mr. Arkadin Comprehensive Edition. The Restored Version here is similar to the occasionally screened Munich Film Archive SD cut, but is superior in terms of audio and video quality.

As the film is not commercially available on home video in the U.S., this custom upscaled BD was sourced from an assortment of DVD and laserdisc releases, which were then post-processed for the best quality possible. To my knowledge, this is the first time that the film has been presented in its entirety at the proper 23.976fps film speed.

Don't expect miracles with the quality, but if you've never seen Welles's third and final effort at RKO, this edition is the ideal introduction and better represents what Orson Welles intended before the RKO interfered.

  • R2 Spanish DVD - European Cut [PRIMARY VIDEO SOURCE - best quality]
  • Laserdisc - American Cut

  • R2 Spanish DVD - European Cut
  • Laserdisc - American Cut


Spanish DVD Footage
[Image: vlcsnap_2017_01_11_21h31m31s222.png]

Spanish DVD Footage
[Image: vlcsnap_2017_01_11_21h31m39s57.png]

Spanish DVD Footage
[Image: vlcsnap_2017_01_11_21h32m16s166.png]

LD Footage
[Image: vlcsnap_2017_01_11_21h33m17s244.png]

Spanish DVD Footage
[Image: vlcsnap_2017_01_11_21h33m54s110.png]

LD Footage
[Image: vlcsnap_2017_01_11_21h34m15s76.png]

Project Status
Third project completed and released!  Confuseduperman: Can be found at the usual places...

Final Product
1080p Upscaled BD25 - 1080p 35 Mbps., 1536 kbps LPCM
Thanks given by: spoRv , Feallan , w_hill_fan , PDB , cedric72 , Inq81 , ReconWorld
Interesting project, good job! Ok
Thanks given by: The Aluminum Falcon
Thanks for putting this together Falcon. Its a pretty great film but you expect that from Welles and Cotten. One of those building block films for film noir.
Thanks given by: The Aluminum Falcon

It took me years to see this, and while severely compromised by scheduling, studio pressures and many other factors it still retains the Wellesian touches and flourishes right down to the opening titles. It is a clear example of what could have been if Mercury could have become a film series like it's radio predecessor.

So I take it this is the rare slightly longer version found in Europe a few years back that has never been shown Stateside? I've only seen the US LD which is slightly shorter.

The great thing about that disc is that despite its slight rot it has amazing deep black levels so necessary for Welles productions.
Damn Fool Idealistic Crusader
Thanks given by:
Though the European Cut is longer, it's still missing some footage from the American Cut, which is added back to this Restored Cut.

Hope you enjoy, captainsolo! Smile
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Hi! This is one of my favourite films -especially the european cut. I'm new to all this - where is it available?
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Hi, I'm also wondering where this might be found. I've looked around some private sites, but haven't found it. Thanks.
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Is there a list somewhere of all the differences? I tried to watch my LD of the US cut last night and the rot stopped it halfway through side one. So I switched over to my newly found Japanese copy with analog sound only. To my extreme surprise it was the alternate European cut.

People claim Welles was allowed to recut the last reel and may have added the Voiceover along with the dramatic credit placement. The original version was 91 min and had major problems with censorship in the scripting stage. I don’t know what Welles was really allowed to do to try and fix things but it seems RKO and the state department hacked the film to pieces much like what they would do to Lewton’s The Dangerous Age.
In the two cuts we have the European one has more of the flavor from the original script and flows better and has footage not in the US cut in the opening act. The section on the ship is the most cut down and both versions have footage not in the other. The final act is mostly the same except for the two different endings. Both are fine but the short humorous one in the European cut isn’t as satisfying because Haki is left unresolved. And the US cut ending is good but doesn’t fully feel like it integrates either.

My guess is Welles was able to shoot the new end scene and perhaps do an edit but ultimately the studio took a weed eater to the film. Thus the credits in the US cut remove his name from the screenplay credit.
Damn Fool Idealistic Crusader
Thanks given by:
Oh wow. I haven't thought about this project in ages. To answer your question @captainsolo I don't actually remember what was added from each cut. There were scenes unique to both the European cut and the American cut: I compiled it all into one cut.

Yeah, there's a common misconception that Welles personally re-edited the American cut and this represents his vision. I more or less agree with you that, after shooting the new end and PERHAPS doing an edit of his own, then some RKO in-house editor probably recut it. The European cut overall feels a lot more solid to me, minus the ending. Again: European isn't perfect, hence why I made this, but it feels. a lot less chopped up.

Mind you, Welles wasn't nearly the editor in 1943 that he was later in his career. And between the fall-out of Ambersons and It's All True, he probably had other things to worry about than this. Still, I like the film more than The Stranger and some other B-grade Welles films...

Stefan Droessler (head of the Munich Film Academy, who also reconstructed Arkadin) showed his own Journey Into Fear reconstruction at MOMA, and this was crafted exactly like his. Main difference being that I noticed he messed up some of his frame rates so some scenes were playing with a PAL speed up. I also got rid of any weird chroma artifacts by just converting to black and white Wink

This should still be available on the Spleen but I'll help you get a copy if you need @captainsolo

I don't know why no one has released a Blu-Ray of either cut (even a Japanese 35mm telecine).... The moment they do, I'm happy to reconstruct this in higher quality.
Thanks given by: captainsolo
Admittedly I hadn’t thought about the film in quite some time but have been reviewing Kane and Ambersons to talk about the Criterion Blu-ray releases. So for that and the fact that it was Joseph Cotten‘s birthday I decided to re-watch Journey into Fear.
Unfortunately my image LD craps out with rot right after getting on board the ship. Side two is fine so I just have that chunk in the middle of the film gone. I recently got the Japanese LD and decided to switch over to that for the section that was rotted. Since it doesn’t have chapters I was going to have to fast forward to the correct section when I immediately noticed it had the starting opening credits different to the US version and I’m sitting there going “holy crap”!

I wound up re-watching the whole opening third and finishing the film on the Japanese copy before switching back to the US cut which I went through on the image disc Side 2. The European cut flows much better and without the heavy cutting with voiceover implementation the opening flows better. I do think the narration adds more mystery which is cool but you lose out on so many character bits. Most of the cutting happens on board the ship to all of the characters and the big problem apparently was all of the political content. The US cut has the amazing new title placement which is so effective making the introduction of the killer a perfect pretitle sequence. Unfortunately because of the way the film was hacked apart you have to pick and choose some scenes in making a hybrid edit and the killers record is heard first in two different places in the two different cuts. I also think you really do need the more conclusive tag ending of the US cut. Apparently there was even more footage and another ending that we have never seen. This plays more into the idea of the relationships in the film and marital infidelity which the censors freaked over.

I think both versions clearly show tampering by the studio. I think the European cut is more like the original 91 minute version and to be honest I have a hard time believing either cut was fully done by Mark Robeson. There’s some sequences that are the same in both cuts that also either do or don’t have a musical cue. I swear every time I look at this film again I can’t make heads or tails of what the heck happened.
Damn Fool Idealistic Crusader
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