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DANISH NOIR 'HIDDEN FEAR' W/ JOHN PAYNE & ANNE NEYLAND

Kino Lorber Blu Ray of Hidden Fear 1957
There's something extremely rotten in Denmark, and as a Late Film Noir, it's actually a few rotten things and they're people, in this case counterfeiters in André De Toth's jazz-soaked, hard-edge HIDDEN FEAR, where John Payne isn't a Wrong Man but his sister could very well be a Wrong Dame...

So it's up to her tall, tough, distant, moody, gritty-handsome, totally indifferent cop brother to figure things out...

Even if he knows his little sister's prone to trouble wherever she winds up, and might not be so innocent, given the company she kept, which gives his mission a more ambiguous edge...

Making him a complete stranger, lost and aloof on foreign soil that is hardly New York's, Chicago's or Los Angeles's shadowy urban landscape: From the Danish city lined with neat looking apartment buildings in an antique, dollhouse fashion to the sparse waterfront boatyard, director Toth makes such ample use of the country's genuine exterior, even the studio-shots within the usual dark atmospheric nightclubs or restaurant feels like a far away place...

Anne Neyland in Hidden Fear
As a (Late) Noir, HIDDEN has a more suspenseful, edgy title than premise and turnout. There's not that many dark moments and yet the pace is brisk (Payne climbing across a titled apartment building roof is a standout). And the story can be confusing unless you pay very close attention to expository detail...

His sister's charged with murder and upon investigation her deceased boyfriend's crowd are deadly counterfeiters slowly crawling out from the shadowy woodwork. That's the baseline. And once things are more clear, the locale-to-locale investigation is extremely engrossing, scored with vibrant beatnik jazz...

Anne Neyland in HIDDEN FEAR Rates: ***1/2
A kind of swinging bop sound, and even at times providing a flaunting horn like the future James Bond films...

Also, Payne has that smooth spy ala 007 aura more than a tough cop. And like Bond, he's hardly alone (he even owned the rights to the Ian Fleming novel MOONRAKER for a while). Our subtle, local nice girl  is played by an extremely beautiful Anne Neyland, who's far more than eye-candy with eyes that really pierce into the men she's speaking to, while talking or listening, while her chemistry with Payne is genuine and sexy despite their lack of physicality, taking away from everything else...

After a little while you might ask yourself: What Murder? For HIDDEN FEAR is a movie that's even better (and deeper) than its often meandering plot that takes second-fiddle to the characters on board. Instead of wielding a backstabbing last-minute gun, her voluptuous body and full-lips makes for a dame the bad guys want instead of the usual vice-versa...

John Payne with Anne Neyland in HIDDEN FEAR
Meanwhile, the counterfeiters are led by a former war hero Alexander Knox (resembling James Mason) who owns a small yacht that's a pivotal location...

When Payne's Mike is trapped inside, surreal music is heard, sounding like an underwater funhouse ride: subtle, softly strange, awkward and eerie, lending a KISS ME DEADLY vibe: in fact the entire journey is also somewhat Mike Hammer-like, and Payne would have been fantastic playing him: Only there's no slow-burn, twisty conclusion as things shape-up with an action genre helicopter-upon-car-upon-motorcycle chase. And although it can be convoluted, FEAR provides a cool dose of thrilling entertainment.
At the jazzy cusp of the Film Noir meter in the year
John Payne with Anne Neyland in HIDDEN FEAR
John Payne Anne Neyland Hidden Fear Anne Neyland John Payne Hidden Fear
Anne Neyland as Virginia Kelly in Hidden Fear Virginia Kelly Anne Neyland Hidden Fear
John Payne hidden on a Danish boat in HIDDEN FEAR reviewed by James M. Tate
John Payne with Anne Neyland in HIDDEN FEAR
There are no Film Noir vehicles without a cop smoking a cig: John Payne in Hidden Fear
 All aboard Marianne Schleiss as Helga Hartman in HIDDEN FEAR
Supercool Chase Scene involving motorcycles, cars and copters in HIDDEN FEAR

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