Cast & Crew
After his sister Susan is arrested in Copenhagen for murdering her partner in a nightclub act, American police detective Mike Brent flies to Denmark to help her. Although there is very strong evidence against her, Susan insists that she is innocent. When Mike contacts Susan's friend and fellow nightclub performer, Virginia Kelly, Virginia introduces him to her much older lover, Arthur Miller, who offers to assist Mike in proving Susan's innocence. At night, Mike visits the crime scene and interrupts a thief, Jacobsen, as he steals counterfeit hundred dollar bills concealed in Indian clubs used in Susan's act. Mike shows the bills to Danish police lieutenant Egon Knudsen, but the lieutenant is already aware of their existence. Jacobsen reports back to Miller, the second-in-command of a gang of counterfeiters, which intends to flood major U.S. and European cities with the bogus currency. Hartman, the gang's leader, framed Susan for murdering her partner, an errant gang member. Hartman is concerned about Mike's involvement in the case, although he is unaware that Mike is a police detective. Suspecting that Susan may have been involved with the counterfeiters, Mike accuses her of lying to him and hits her, but she continues to deny any criminal involvement. After Mike establishes that Virginia is unaware of the counterfeit scheme, they become friends. Knudsen attempts to help Mike by arranging for him to meet an informant, but the man is killed before Mike can talk with him. In his hotel, Mike is approached by Lund, one of Hartman's representatives, who offers to buy back the seventy-two hundred dollar bills Mike found for a meager amount. Mike insists on a dollar-for-dollar arrangement then throws out Lund. After Lund's body is fished out of the harbor, Mike is informed that he was killed by a gun that Knudsen lent to Mike. Meanwhile, Hartman is determined to proceed with his plan to flood major cities with the counterfeit currency on the same day, three weeks hence and, in order to prevent any interference from Mike, has him captured by gang associate Gibbs and taken first to a boat, then to Miller's country mansion. Meanwhile, Virginia drives to the mansion where, after telling Miller that she has been interrogated by the police about his activities and that Mike is a police officer, tries to break up with him. When Mike arrives at the mansion, he manages to escape, but Gibbs and Miller chase him through the house. Gibbs finds Virginia and, misunderstanding her presence there, knocks her out. Hartman, intending to double-cross his partners, rigs a car with a bomb with a slow-burning fuse, then orders Gibbs and Miller to drive it to his boat, while he rides there on his motorcycle with the plates for the counterfeit bills. As the police tail the car, it explodes in the middle of a country road. Mike discovers a recovering Virginia in the house and after seeing Hartman leave on his motorcycle, tells her to phone Knudsen. Mike then borrows Miller's car to pursue Hartman through the streets of a small rural town until he abandons the motorcycle and takes a taxi to the harbor. Meanwhile, Knudsen orders all police units to concentrate on the harbor. Mike, sensing that Hartman is planning to escape from the harbor, reaches the boat first and overpowers the guard. As Hartman steers the boat away from the dock, Mike attacks him and they both fall into the water where they struggle for possession of a knife. After killing Hartman, Mike is picked up by a police helicopter. Later, the destruction of the counterfeit ring results in Susan being cleared of the murder charge, and before returning to the U.S., she and Mike thank Knudsen and Virginia for their help. Virginia, by now romantically involved with Mike, plans to join him shortly.
Wilfred M. Cline
John [ward] Hawkins
Howard E. Kohn Ii
Egon C. Nielsen
Robert St. Aubrey
TCM Remembers Andre de Toth
Born in Mako, Hungary to the son of a civil engineer, De Toth showed an early artistic bent, having his first exhibit of paintings and sculpture at age 14 and seeing his first play produced at age 18. After obtaining his law degree from the University of Budapest, he began acting, writing and working as a cameraman for cinematographer Istvan Eiben. In 1939, he went to England, where he worked as a second unit director for Alexander Korda on The Thief of Bagdad and other films. De Toth immigrated to Hollywood in the early '40s, and worked with Korda on The Jungle Book (1942) and several other films.
He made his Hollywood directing debut with the 1943 feature, Passport to Suez, a propaganda thriller about the Nazis wanting to bomb the Suez Canal.
Impressed with his ability, Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures, put the director under contract for one film and the result, None Shall Escape (1944), launched his Hollywood career. This tense, sensitive drama about a Nazi officer made to examine his actions was fascinating in its structure: Set after the war's end, the film centers around the trial of a Nazi butcher, Wilhelm Grimm (Alexander Knox), in Poland and makes excellent use of flashbacks illustrating the prosecution's testimony to form the bulk of the film. In a way, the film predicted the Nuremberg Trials after the war.
de Toth earned considerable critical acclaim with the taut, intense noir thriller Pitfall (1948) which he co-wrote. Starring Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott and Raymond Burr, this story of a bored insurance salesman who embarks on an affair because he feels stifled in his picture-perfect home (a devoted wife, son, nice house, successful career, etc.) was striking as one of the first films to examine the American dream gone sour. De Toth followed that with a shared Oscar nomination with William Bowers for Best Original Motion Picture Story for The Gunfighter (1950), a haunting character study of a killer (Gregory Peck) trying to live down his past.
His biggest commercial hit came with House of Wax (1953), the movie that launched Vincent Price's horror film career and is still regarded as the best of all three-dimensional films to be released during that period. Unlike other directors who seemed to be dabbling with a new technique, De Toth emphasized character and plot over the special effects: Price was a sculptor rebuilding his wax figure collection (destroyed by fire) by making statues out of his murder victims. The one-eyed de Toth was an odd choice to helm a 3-D film as he could not experience the stereoscopic process, having lost an eye in his youth, but he persevered and it was the most successful 3-D film of its day.
De Toth followed that hit with some fine films: Crime Wave (1954), a hostage thriller that boasts some fine performances by Sterling Hayden and Gene Nelson and excellent location shooting on the streets of Los Angeles; The Indian Fighter (1955) an exciting Kirk Douglas vehicle about a wagon master leading his train through rough territory that won accolades for depicting the Native Americans with more depth than contemporary directors; and Day of the Outlaw (1959), the stark, stylish, low budget western about an outlaw (Burl Ives) and his gang taking over taking a small town and matching wits with one of its citizens (Robert Ryan). For many, this film best articulated many of the recurring themes in De Toth's work that would be evaluated only decades later by film scholars: survival, betrayal, the capacity for evil and complexities of human relationships.
In the early sixties film work became increasingly scarce for De Toth and he found himself relegated to directing for television: Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip and The Westerner. Tired of the limitations he was finding in Hollywood, De Toth headed to Europe in the '60s, where he found work as an uncredited consultant and location scout on David Lean's extravagant Lawrence of Arabia (1962). He directed a few films abroad, the best of which was the World War II action film Play Dirty (1968), starring Michael Caine, and then he more or less retired from active filmmaking. It was not until recently that De Toth began to receive critical recognition for his entertaining body of work. The last few years have seen several retrospectives and he enjoyed a renewed popularity at film festivals from Scotland to San Francisco. His contributions to film were recognized with the 1995 life achievement prize by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the publication of his autobiography, Fragments: Portraits From the Inside, as well as an interview book, De Toth on De Toth, by Anthony Slide. De Toth was married for a time to Veronica Lake (1944-1952) with whom he had two children. He is survived by his wife, Ann Green.
by Michael T. Toole
TCM Remembers Andre de Toth
A title at the film's conclusion reads: "We wish to express our deep appreciation to the Municipal services and the people of Copenhagen for their invaluable assistance and cooperation throughout the filming of this production." A February 7, 1956 Los Angeles Times article reported that Hidden Fear would be the first production mutually financed by Hollywood and Danish interests and would be released worldwide by United Artists. The article also stated that director Andre DeToth would confer with Ben Hecht on the screenplay, which was to be based on an original story by Robin Howard. Other contemporary sources do not mention Howard or Hecht, however, and the extent of their contribution to the completed picture, if any, has not been confirmed.
A Hollywood Reporter production chart of June 8, 1956 adds Nikolas Karienos to cast and Richard Cahoon as film editor. A 1968 Danish source adds Birgit Brüel, Knud Hallest, Poul Juhl, Tove Maës and Olaf Ussing to the cast, as well as adding Einar Olsen to the photography crew, Werner Hedmann as an assistant director and Tage Nielsen as a producer. Danish actor Erling Schroeder was billed as Paul Erling in the film. Hidden Fear marked actress Anne Neyland's first appearance in a feature film.
The Hollywood Reporter review described the film as "very poor second-place double-bill material" and complained that "the plot has been so completely obscured that it has been lost as far as the average viewer is concerned." The review also criticized the poor lighting and sound recording. Daily Variety's reviewer also had difficulty deciphering the confusing plot and noted that the "sound recording was especially bad, with large patches of dialogue completely unintelligible."