Fear Is The Key (4 stars)

Fear Is The Key

15 100min (Optimum DVD retail)


A rarely-seen cult classic from 1972, this Alistair MacLean adaptation comes loaded with points of interest. Directed by Michael Tuchner (Villain, the big-screen version of The Likely Lads), soundtracked with lively period precision by Roy Budd (Get Carter) and marking the film debut of Ben Kingsley, there is, nonetheless, only one star of this show.

Amidst a standard but entirely enjoyable thriller filled with deception, car chases and with sassy one-liner-ridden dialogue, Barry Newman is outstanding as the desperate anti-hero John Talbot, who embarks on an elaborate bloodthirsty scheme of vengeance. His next role after cult hero Kowalski in Vanishing Point, Fear is the Key cements Newman’s sadly unheralded aptitude for such characters, although it’s just a shame this film isn’t more widely recognised. Not as smooth as Bond, as memorably scored as Get Carter or as classically iconic as Bullitt, it’s still a very enjoyable blend of all three. Minimal extras.

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