The Price of Fear is directed by Abner Biberman and adapted to screenplay by Robert Tallman from a story by Dick Irving Hyland. It stars Merle Oberon, Lex barker, Charles Drake and Warren Stevens. Music is by Heinz Roemheld and cinematography by Irving Glassberg.
Little seen or just forgotten these days, The Price of Fear is actually a rather tight and entertaining piece of film noir film making. Rising above some production limitations, pic is strong on characterisations and it looks just splendid. Story essentially finds Barker as an innocent man out to prove he didn’t kill two people in two separate incidents!, while Oberon slips into femme fatale clothes as a love interest who’s trying to avoid being found out for one of the killings Barker is under scrutiny for.
Narrative is deliciously twisty in how characters react and perform during the play. Into the mix is an intrepid detective, smooth talking villain, a blackmailing wife, a witness under duress and even a train sick canine! Old noir faithfuls coincidence and fate play their big hands, as does some narration drive. The look is minus chiaroscuro but the nighttime scenes are impressive enough, shiny streets and bulbous lights excellently photographed by Glassberg, while Biberman plays with frame tilts and interesting framing of the lady characters.
There’s been some complaints about cast performances, but all are fine here. OK, so it lacks in viper femininity and laconic masculine as per noir classics previously, but nothing here hurts the piece. Solid as a rock is this, it even has the courage of its convictions to provide a genuine surprise ending. Where the main players catch a train to noirville, the termination point worth waiting for.