5.6/10
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51 user 57 critic

Fear and Desire (1953)

Not Rated | | Drama, Thriller, War | 1 April 1953 (USA)
Four soldiers trapped behind enemy lines must confront their fears and desires.

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Cast

Cast overview:
... Mac
Kenneth Harp ... Lt. Corby / The General
... Sidney
... Fletcher / The Captain (as Steve Coit)
... The Girl
David Allen ... Narrator (voice)
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Storyline

A ficticious war in an unidentified country provides the setting for this drama. Four soldiers survive the crash-landing of their plane to find themselves in a forest six miles behind enemy lines. The group, led by Lt. Corby, has a plan: They'll make their way to a nearby river, build a raft, and then, under cover of night, float back to friendly territory. Their plans for getting back safely are sidetracked by a young woman who stumbles across them as they hide in the woods, and by the nearby presence of an enemy general who one member of the group is determined to kill. Written by Eugene Kim <[email protected]>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Trapped... 4 Desperate Men and a Strange Half-Animal Girl!

Genres:

Drama | Thriller | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

1 April 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Shape of Fear  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$33,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Stanley Kubrick 's father borrowed from his cash accumulation insurance policy (whole life contract) to fund the film. His uncle, a pharmacist, also put up money to finance the film. See more »

Goofs

The shots of the dead girl show her either with her face three-quarter turned to the ground (close shot) or with her face looking straight out to the side (long shot). This may be deliberate due to the surreal nature of the scene, namely the mental state of her killer. See more »

Quotes

Enemy General: Sometimes, as I look at these maps, I wonder if my own grave isn't being planned. Here... or here... or here.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in True Romance (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Not a complete artistic failure, but disappointing in one way I didn't expect
25 July 2005 | by See all my reviews

Stanley Kubrick, a director who I hold in the highest of esteems for his masterpieces (Clockwork Orange, 2001, The Killing, the Shining, Dr. Strangelove, etc) took the film out of circulation, leaving it to be found by only the hardcore fans and completists. After seeing the film for myself, I could see why. At the age of 24, Kubrick had already honed his craft of still photography for LOOK magazine, and had done a few short documentaries. Like many first-time filmmakers that came in the decades after him, his ambition for Fear and Desire was, in short, to just go and make a film, cheaply, more than likely to see if he could do it. On that level, he was successful. However, the film itself definitely is not.

I can't really say that the film is a failure because there was something I did like about it throughout. Even as the film's story went on the wayside, and the actors (whom Kubrick didn't have any idea how to direct, not being a man of the theater), his knack for producing and capturing some great images gets its seeds in this film. At times, there are some shots of close-ups and quick-shots in suspense/action scenes that are eye-catching. Unfortunately, this is all the good I can really say of the film. Although there are a couple of 'name' actors in the film (Frank Slivera, who also appeared in Killer's Kiss, and Paul Mazursky, a director in his own right), the performances overall are dull and very routine.

In fact, that is the film's main demise for me; whenever I watch any Kubrick film, even his early film noirs Killer's Kiss and the Killing, I can tell who made it, as his style by then became distinct, which would continue as he evolved as an artist. It wasn't 'artsy' like I might have pictured (which is usually the case with first-time directors like Scorsese and Spielberg), but watching this film not only did it feel like it wasn't Kubrick, it felt like a lot of the time I was watching some B (or even C) grade movie by a director that time forgot- not quite 'Ed Wood' bad, but close. The music is as standard as can be, the fades are pedestrian, and the plot seems to not really hold that much attention.

In short, as others have said and which I can agree, this is a "doodle pad" of a future ground-breaker, who shows some shots and a few edits that grab some attention (the best scene overall being when the soldiers take the dumb girl hostage), but not enough to really recommend except to those, like myself, who end up seeing everything by Kubrick (or, perhaps, have to see every ultra-low budget war film ever made), if only out of curiosity.


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