Movie Critique – Escape in the Fog
Stars: 4 / 5
Recommendation: A B-movie with thrills is a rare, and this is one of those rare ones that got made a little late for the time. Perhaps a few years prior the film would have made a hit. Nonetheless enough drama and mystery to not get bored.
Escape in the Fog is a 1945 American film noir crime film starring Otto Kruger, Nina Foch and William Wright in the lead cast. Directed by Budd Boetticher produced by Wallace MacDonald. Boetticher had directed this under the name of Oscar Boetticher Jr. and called this as a "nothing" picture although he enjoyed filming it.
Eileen Carr (portrayed by Nina Foch), a nurse in San Francisco dreams of a murder. But shortly she meets the victim in real life, Barry Malcolm (portrayed by William Wright). Rest of the film follows how Eileen works towards finding out the mystery behind the dream and also save Malcolm.
I remember watching Nina Foch as Carol Flemming in the very first episode of my favorite TV cop series Columbo, with the title Prescription: Murder. She was charming even though she played the role of a disheartened wife who accepts her husband's indiscretions at the cost of her life in that episode. It is a pleasure to see some of her earlier works in film such as this one.
Otto Kruger gets top billing in the film even though he has considerably less role than Wright or Foch in the film. However, Foch and Wright did set their mark in the film pretty well.
Foch is as pretty and lovely she can come showing emotions of war scars. While Wright resembles close and close to a gumshoe rather than a spy. I suppose that's what gave him an excellent cover too for his role Malcolm.
Original screenplay by Aubrey Wisberg, the plot showcases some darker sides of the World War II without any blinders on it. Again we get to see several actors and actresses who have not been credited for their roles, but have been successful since then in their own way on silver screen.
It was intriguing to see the various spy gadgets used during World War II by either side of the forces. One such is a recording cylinder that could be attached to a grandfather clock mechanism and then played back by attaching it to another device (second picture below).
Though the plot was mysterious and filled with spies, the central element - fog - makes a prominent appearance. Use of fog, light & shadow to create sinister feeling is shown effectively. And also it was a way to disguise that the scenes were actually filmed on a set rather than a real location.
The plot does show that the opponent spies are much more intelligent than the home grown ones. Yet it doesn’t fail to entertain you. A B-movie with thrills is a rare, and this is one of those rare ones that got made a little late for the time. Perhaps a few years prior the film would have made a hit. Nonetheless enough drama and mystery to not get bored.
1) Movie Trivia:
a. The actress who drives the shared cab for Eileen and Malcolm along with two other bad guys is a very young Shelley Winters. She would become a star herself and win several academy awards and nominations over the years.
b. Note the sign at the bottom of the picture. It asks to help soldiers. We see similar ones now but they have evolved from being simply a stake sign.
2) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:
a. The note that Barry and Eileen receive at their table is typed. However when the opposite spies retrieve that from Eileen's bag, it is handwritten.
b. There were several instances when Barry could have disarmed his captor and also rescued Eileen. However he doesn’t do that and instead gets captured too.
c. The bad spies turn on gas and leave Eileen and Barry tied inside a room in the clock repair shop. However, Barry uses his lighter to reflect his signal in the shop mirror. Shouldn’t the shop had been exploded by then? In fact later when Devon comes to their rescue warns everyone not to light a match because of gas.