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The Fallen Sparrow (1943)

The Fallen Sparrow (1943)

John GarfieldMaureen O'HaraWalter SlezakPatricia Morison
Richard Wallace


The Fallen Sparrow (1943) is a English,German,Italian,French movie. Richard Wallace has directed this movie. John Garfield,Maureen O'Hara,Walter Slezak,Patricia Morison are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1943. The Fallen Sparrow (1943) is considered one of the best Drama,Film-Noir,Mystery,Thriller movie in India and around the world.

November, 1940. The son of a retired NYPD officer, John McKittrick - Kit to his friends - who has been in convalescence on an Arizona ranch after being rescued as a POW in the Spanish Civil War, he held captive and tortured for two years after the end of the war, rushes back to New York City upon reading that Police Lieutenant Louie Lepetino, his long time friend and rescuer, died one month ago in a fall out of a Park Avenue high rise apartment window. Inspector Tobin, who led the Lepetino investigation, ruled the death accidental, while Kit believes, unspoken, that Louie's death is tied somehow to his own incarceration in Spain. The "accident" apparently occurred during a party hosted by Kit's former girlfriend, Barby Taviton, she and her and Kit's mutual friends socializing with some people associated with the Refugee Committee: wheelchair-bound Norwegian historian Dr. Christian Skaas, accompanied by his nephew Otto Skaas, and Prince Fran├žois de Namur. Of those at the party, no one ...


The Fallen Sparrow (1943) Reviews

  • The One and Only Garfield


    Long before the "method" style "invaded" the acting profession, there were many equally fine performers which came before the mid-'50s "movement." These "predecessors" didn't wear their craft-on-their-sleeve as much; in fact, many (like Tracy, Ryan, and Cagney) behaved so naturally, it was as though they were speaking their own lines. One such earlier talent was John Garfield. A consummate performer, Garfield could seemingly do no wrong--not make one false move. In film after film, he didn't appear to be acting; rather he was just "being" the character. Although "The Fallen Sparrow" isn't one of Garfield's greatest parts or films, he's on target in every scene. Yes, it's called "talent, star quality," and Garfield's got "it." With a respectable "noir" script, and peopled with a solid cast of leads and supporters, "Sparrow" manages to engage the attention and create genuine interest throughout. A good looking, sharp and crisp, black-and-white production design enhances this presentation, which also features the always dependable Maureen O'Hara and Walter Slezak.

  • A Better Plot Premise


    The Spanish Civil War was never a popular subject to begin with for Hollywood, but in 1943 two films would come about it. The first was Paramount's big budget For Whom The Bell Tolls and the second made for considerably less was The Fallen Sparrow about a veteran of that conflict's and the quest after him. Before just membership in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade blacklisted you from all kinds of places after, people returned after the loss of the war by the Republic to the Falangists without any of the problems that John Garfield faces in The Fallen Sparrow. But it seems as though Garfield managed to cop a battle flag from some old European house that is in sympathy with the Nazis. Believe it or not, Adolph Hitler is going through some really unbelievable lengths to get it back. Maybe if Garfield had some secret chemical formula stashed somewhere I might have gotten the plot of this film. But for the life of me if it weren't for Garfield's strong performance as a veteran who underwent all kinds of sophisticated torture, the film would have been laughable. So while the plot premise was ridiculous, Garfield's performance anticipates by several years other films about brainwashing techniques on prisoners and the readjustment to civilian life which Garfield never quite makes. In any event back from the Spanish Civil War and before America gets into World War II, Garfield finds himself involved with some strange foreign refugee types as he goes looking for the murderer of a New York City cop and pal of his who arranged his escape from the clutches of the new Falangist government under Francisco Franco. The most sinister of them and he usually is in these films is Walter Slezak. In her memoirs Maureen O'Hara said that Garfield was a delightful person to work with even though she was far from sympathetic with his politics. She had no hesitation in labeling him a Communist. In point of fact Garfield was a strong New Deal Democrat who in his years growing up poor and later in the Group Theater made some friends who unashamedly were Communists. They called people like him 'fellow travelers' back in those old bad old days. The Fallen Sparrow would have been a lot better film had it been given a stronger plot premise.

  • You Dirty Sadistic Swine!


    ***SPOILERS*** Almost incomprehensible plot that has to do with a Nazi spy ring in the heart of New York City masquerading around as a bunch of refugee European society blue-bloods. Emotionaly disturbed and mentally broken Jon "Kit" McKittrick, John Garfield,is back in New York after a stay at a rest home in Arizona. McKittrick is recovering from the horrors of being held prisoner for two years in a Nazi-like prison camp, in Spain. McKittrick finds out ,through an old newspaper clipping, that his old friend and NYPD cop Let. Louie Lepitino had killed himself while he was away recovering in the Arizona rest home. It was Louie who helped get Kit out of the Fascist prison camp in Spain a year earlier. Kit is now sure that Louie's tragic death wasn't an accident, it was murder. Having been captured at the end of the Spanish Civil War were he fought the Spanish Fascists forces of Francisco Franco Kit was put under extreme torture by his captors to find something that he hid from them before he was apprehend. Unknown to the Fascists the item is safely locked up in a secret Libson Portugal bank safe deposit box. With all the sub-plots and double-crossing in the movie "The Fallen Sparrow" you never get a handle to what these cryptic-Nazis, hiding behind the facade of Spanish and French Royality, want from the poor and mentally unbalanced Kit McKittrick. Were given information from Kit,in what looks like a drug induced stupor, that he was involved in the death of a top German general in the Spanish Civil War. This general was a close friend and fellow 1923 Beer Hall putsch veteran of Adolf Hitler himself. It was Hitler who then ordered the Gestapo and Nazi agents to track down every member of this anti-Fascist brigade, responsible for the German Generals death. The Gestapo and it's agents in the US were not only told have them killed but to find the brigade pennant, or official flag, which only Kit knew where it is: In the Libson's bank safe deposit box. Increidably complicated and convoluted plot that you just give up on almost half way through the movie. Kit's all over the place looking for this lame or club footed Nazi doctor, like the one-armed man in the TV show "The Fugitive", who's now the Nazi agent out to get him to talk about where the pennant is and, after getting the information from Kit, then murder him. This Nazi is also the man who Kit remembers back from his time in the Spanish prison from the sounds he made when he walked. Kit never saw him. It later comes out that everything that happened to Kit from the time he left Arizona to when he got to New York was all planned, ahead of time, by this group of pseudo-aristocratic Nazis themselves. Like a boat in a thick fog at sea the movie just limps along making little if any sense at all as it reaches it's totally unbelievable climax. Kit finally finds out not just who was behind the death of policemen Louie Lepitino, it turns out that Louie didn't kill himself like Kit suspected, but the murder of his close friend and Washington insider Ab Parker, Bruce Edwards. I thought that it was a bit egotistical of Kit to think that the German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler himself took such a deep interest in him to the point of forgoing his responsibility of conducting the German military in WWII against the allies. An obsession on Hitler's part which, if you take Kit and the movie "The Fallen Sparrow" seriously,eventually cost him the war. The relationship between Kit and mystery women Toni Donne, Maureen O'Hara,also took a great strain on your thought processing mechanisms. You never for once know just what Toni's role in this half cocked scheme as well as her involvement with these Nazis really is? You get at least three different explanations from her in the movie to just what Toni's role is in all this none of which make any sense at all! The Nazi spies are headed by this off-the-wall torture fixated psycho Dr. Christian Skaas, Walter Slezak. Dr. Skass brain-addled sidekick is the former, or what he thinks he is, French monarch as well as the bluest of European blue-bloods Prince Fracois De Namur played by veteran Jewish Yiddish theater actor Sam Goldenberg.

  • Film Version of FALLEN SPARROW Flies High! Viva Dorothy B. Hughes!


    Novelist Dorothy B. Hughes built a good head of paranoia and suspense in her 1942 thriller THE FALLEN SPARROW (TFS), and RKO masterfully and faithfully adapted the 1943 movie version. Director Richard Wallace, screenwriter Warren Duff, and editor Robert Wise condense the novel's events and complex relationships without watering it down. Starting with the quote "...in a world at war many sparrows must fall...", the film brings us into the mindset of troubled yet determined hero John "Kit" McKittrick (John Garfield). Kit's boyhood friend Lt. Louie Lepetino had helped him escape the Spanish prison where he'd been tortured for two agonizing years after the Spanish Civil War. Returning to New York City from a ranch rest cure, Kit's stunned to discover that Louie's been killed in a 12-story fall from a window at a swanky party for wartime refugees Dr. Skaas (Walter Slezak) and his nephew Otto (Hugh Beaumont, pre-LEAVE IT TO BEAVER). Hell-bent on proving Louie's death was neither accidental nor a suicide, Kit starts sleuthing, with help from pal Ab Parker (Bruce Edwards). Kit's grim goal: killing Louie's killer. Kit's suspects include just about everyone in his upscale circle of friends, especially the women, since he's sure only a dame could've gotten close enough to Louie to shove him out a window. Was it Kit's alluring old flame Barby Taviton (brunette Patricia Morison may not look like the blonde Barby described in Hughes's book, but she's got the sophistication and entitled attitude)? Lovely, sad-eyed refugee Toni Donne (Maureen O'Hara in a change-of-pace role; more on that shortly)? Ab's young songbird cousin Whitney Parker, affectionately known as "Imp" (appealing Martha O'Driscoll. By the way, this character's name was "Content Hamilton" in the novel, but I like her new name better)? Kit's biggest obstacle: he has what we now call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He's still haunted by the memory of the mysterious man from Franco's elite Nazi squad, a limping man who tortured Kit in his dark cell, trying to make him reveal where he'd hidden his regiment's battle standard. (In the novel, the McGuffin was a set of fabulous Babylon goblets the defiant Kit took from the enemy. The goblets are in the film, but the script emphasizes that battle flag and the symbolism behind it.) Even now, Kit struggles against fear as he imagines hearing the drag and thump that signaled his sadistic tormentor's arrival -- or IS he imagining it? Terror mounts as Kit realizes his enemies may have followed him home, maybe even planting their spies into every aspect of Kit's life, placing not only himself in danger, but also his friends and loved ones... The role of Kit, a working-class, self-described "mug" in gent's clothing (his ex-cop dad struck it rich) with a heart full of all-but-shattered ideals, fits John Garfield like a glove. Garfield's toughness, tenderness, and humor have us rooting for Kit. As in the book, Kit spends lots of time and energy trying to convince himself he's not afraid, only to be proved wrong, to his frustration. Hughes's haunting descriptions of Kit's memories of his horrific Spain ordeal are conveyed well in Garfield's powerful monologue, enhanced by the camera's slow close-up on his expressive face. The sweat on Garfield's brow and the twitch in his cheek as he finally faces his enemy during the climax speak volumes. As Toni Donne, the guarded beauty with a terrible hold over her, lovely Maureen O'Hara (did they darken her red hair, or is it just Nicholas Musuraca's gorgeous black-and-white photography?) tries to downplay her Irish accent, but it still lurks in certain words. While our household loves O'Hara, she wouldn't have been our first choice as a femme fatale, but Toni's inner fear and regret come through in O'Hara's poignant, soulful portrayal, winning my sympathy. O'Hara has great fire-and-ice chemistry with the intense Garfield. In the book, Kit kissed Toni, but with her cautious reserve, she never kissed back with any kind of enthusiasm. In this film version, Kit and Toni finally share longing kisses and tender embraces -- much more fun to watch! :-) Walter Slezak's performance as Dr. Skaas is silkily sinister, though his true evil nature is telegraphed earlier than in the book, with his interest in "the cruelties of men towards other men" and "comparing modern scientific torture with the methods of the ancients" (who apparently didn't mess with victims' heads enough for Skaas). An avuncular hybrid of Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and Clifton Webb, Slezak is one of 1940s cinema's most memorable villains. TFS keeps the paranoia percolating and the suspense simmering, even keeping much of the novel's best dialogue, with only minor tweaks. The filmmakers truly evoke the feeling and atmosphere of wintertime World War 2 Manhattan, especially with their use of shadows, light and sound as well as Roy Webb and Constantine Bakaleinikoff's Oscar-nominated score. Today's audiences might not understand Kit's obsession with the battle flag, even with the explanatory scene at Toni's home -- but then again, I bet the men and women fighting overseas will get the significance of a battle standard and what it symbolizes. Although Dorothy B. Hughes's mysteries were best-sellers in her heyday, they seemed to be all but forgotten after she retired to focus on her family. Luckily, the film version of TFS captures her tale of terror beautifully. If you want to read the book, Amazon.com has both new and used paperback editions available so you can rediscover her. Interestingly, the 1988 paperback edition I read had cover art with an uncanny resemblance to, of all things, the movie poster for THE FRENCH CONNECTION!

  • Stylish


    Lushly mounted espionage thriller that rivets the eye even when the narrative meanders. It's the great RKO artistic team of Musuraca, Silvera, and D'Agostino setting the stage for noir's post-war golden period, foreshadowed here by the rich b&w landscape. Garfield's a shattered veteran of the Spanish Civil War, tortured by the fascists and a mysterious limping man. Now he's back in New York trying to regain stability and find out who killed his best friend. Along the way, he meets up with sinister European types and the beauteous O'Hara looking like she stepped off a 1942 Vogue cover. Turns out everybody, including the limping man, is trying to get possession of a regimental battle standard whose whereabouts only Garfield knows. Needless to say, at times the storyline could use a road map to follow. But that's okay because the appeal lies elsewhere, as in the shadowy characters and photography. Note how effectively Garfield's moments of derangement are highlighted by the musical score and the astute close-ups. Those penetrating few moments are hauntingly expressed as they reach into Kit's (Garfield) tortured "subjective" reality. The actor delivers in spades in a difficult role requiring that he be in about every scene. The movie's also an eye-full for the guys with three knockout leading ladies. However, despite her looks, I think the normally vivacious O'Hara is miscast, a little too stiff and impassive for the subtleties required by her character. On a different note, the limping man's dragging foot adds a creepy sound to the sinister atmosphere and is what I remember most from seeing the film as a kid. Anyway, the movie's an unusual thriller with a really great "look" that stands up well over the decades.


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