The Fallen Sparrow (1943)
The Lame Bird
Often I find myself saying that a movie is style over substance, well you can't say that about "The Fallen Sparrow" as it certainly has both and a brilliant performance from John Garfield to go with them. But despite seeming to have it all "The Fallen Sparrow" still has a problem and that is that the substance, the storyline is a convoluted mess with far fetched aspects which makes it hard to follow and hard to stay interested in.
Having suffered horrendous torture when he was captured fighting in the Spanish Civil War Kit McKittrick (John Garfield - Air Force) arrives back in New York when he learns that his friend who rescued him has died due to an "Accidental" fall. Disbelieving that it was an accident Kit hooks up with his old friend Ab Parker (Bruce Edwards) who introduces him to the new European society crowd in the city whilst Kit tries to work out what happened to his friends, suspecting there must have been a dame behind it. But the horrors of the past still affect Kit as a noise can make him shake and remember the torture he endured in Spain.
Let me get the negative out of the way with as it is what ruins "The Fallen Sparrow" and that is that not only is it convoluted but far fetched as well. The far fetched side revolves around the involvement of Adolph Hitler on a vendetta to get something back which Kit has. The convoluted is how it gets there spinning us around and around between various characters whilst mentioning others who we are yet to meet till, as if we are being tortured, we submit and just stop trying to make sense of it all. To put it simply the storyline and the various twists end up spoiling the movie.
That is the negative yet there are some positives as well and "The Fallen Sparrow" is a great looking movie, not just because of an attractive cast but a great selection of rooms with wonderful detail making them interesting. There is also some fantastic camera work with great noir framing to make the various characters far more intriguing than some of them really are. The styling certainly helps build atmosphere and mystery which "The Fallen Sparrow" has in bucket loads.
As for the characters there are quite a few and part of the movies problem is that early on it mentions various characters before we meet them which makes it hard to follow. But the acting is good from the entire cast which includes Maureen O'Hara and Walter Slezak. But the star of "The Fallen Sparrow" is John Garfield and it is a great performance of an intriguing character which even when the storyline gets messy is intriguing. Not only that Garfield's sudden shakes and sweats when something makes him think of the torture he endured in Spain is powerful stuff.
What this all boils down to is that "The Fallen Sparrow" is a great looking movie and one with some great acting as well. But it suffers from a messy storyline which is hard to follow and stay interested in.
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