6.7/10
1,108
25 user 14 critic

The Fallen Sparrow (1943)

In 1940, a former prisoner is determined to find the killer of the New York Police Lt. who helped him escape from a Nazi torture camp in Spain.

Director:

Richard Wallace

Writers:

Warren Duff (screen play), Dorothy B. Hughes (novel)
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Garfield ... John 'Kit' McKittrick
Maureen O'Hara ... Toni Donne
Walter Slezak ... Dr. Christian Skaas
Patricia Morison ... Barby Taviton
Martha O'Driscoll ... Whitney 'The Imp' Parker
Bruce Edwards ... Ab Parker
John Banner ... Anton
John Miljan ... Inspector 'Toby' Tobin
Hugh Beaumont ... Otto Skaas
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Storyline

A former Spanish Civil War prisoner, John McKittrick arrives in New York to find the truth behind the death of his friend Louie Lepetino. He finds himself being chased by Nazi agents who want an item he has brought back from Spain and cannot give up. When another of his friends is murdered, McKittrick realizes that he cannot trust anyone around him - not anyone. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Italian

Release Date:

23 November 1943 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

Beijo da Traição See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

RKO traded the film rights to Of Human Bondage (1934) and The Animal Kingdom (1932) to Warner Bros. for the services of John Garfield for this film, and for Joan Leslie in The Sky's the Limit (1943). See more »

Goofs

The Bust which is knocked through the window and crashes out on the street appears in it's original position in the next shot. See more »

Quotes

John 'Kit' McKittrick: [First Lines]
[Thinking, not speaking out loud]
John 'Kit' McKittrick: All right. Go on. Let's have it. Can you go through with it? Have you got the guts for it? Or have they knocked it out of you? Have they made you yellow?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits: "...in a world at war many sparrows must fall ... See more »

Connections

Referenced in Exhumed (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Nightclub Song
Sung by Martha O'Driscoll (dubbed by Martha Mears)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Thick, overheated "anti-Fascist" noir leaves scorched aftertaste
16 June 2002 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

Hollywood fought World War II on many fronts: most obviously, in its documentaries and war dramas; in genre series coopted for the war effort (such as Sherlock Holmes programmers); and in thrillers dedicated to smoking out the Fifth Column at home (The House on Ninety-Second Street). There was also a more complicated, ideologically tinged kind of movie, not simply anti-Nazi but more broadly `anti-Fascist' (and defiantly leftist). Lillian Hellman's Watch on the Rhine was one; The Fallen Sparrow was another.

John Garfield (who else?) survived torture while fighting for the anti-Franco forces in the Spanish Civil War, but it took its toll; he recuperated in a sanitarium in the Southwest. Upon returning to New York – where a war buddy has met death by defenestration from a penthouse party – he finds some of his friends traveling in the same circles as vaguely sinister Europeans and fly-specked aristocrats – Germans, Italians, Spaniards – who take a perverse interest in him. Among them is Maureen O'Hara (in a dark, forties updo), who runs hot and cold when it comes to his advances.

The dense plot of The Fallen Sparrow collapses into a noirish muddle. Multiple heavies purr in a babel of as many stage accents (Hugh Beaumont's Prussian the most amusing of them). Walter Slezak plays a mittel-European professor whose passion seems to be the aesthetics of torture, and whose limp summons up nightmares for Garfield. There are also family crests dating from at least the Borgias (whose speciality was goblets of poisoned wine), a senile old curmudgeon who believes he'll be restored to the throne of France, and a tattered standard Garfield has rescued from Spain, which becomes this film's black bird....

Following all these threads require rapt attention, but who would be willing to devote anything less to the fight against Fascism? The film borrows from such immediate predecessors in the nascent noir cycle as The Maltese Falcon (especially the ending) and The Glass Key. It cooks up plenty of atmosphere but lacks vital clarity. It's not without interest – the attention to the psychological aftermath of torture is a bold and courageous stroke – but with its political passions looking quaint, if not naive, this overheated melodrama leaves a scorched aftertaste.


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