Let me add my admiration to that of Larry French's for Stefan Droessler's reconstruction (still in progress) of JOURNEY INTO FEAR. While scrupulous in keeping the integrity of his work on Welles' materials intact, he kindly shared with some of us what he was able.
A tall man, handsome, and kindly, Droessler pointed out how entertaining this version of JOURNEY INTO FEAR really is. As Simon Callow had noted in Hello Americans, the adaptation of Eric Ambler's early WWII spy novel was intended to have considerable satirical style, and Droessler's continuity comes forward along that line in a way I had not noticed before. And as Welles complained to Peter Bogdanovich, what he considered the most valuable material, the ethnic and political bickering and vagaries of the polyglot passenger list of the Motonavia Sistri Levende (a cattle boat of fools), was all cut out by RKO, leaving the disjointed thriller we've been looking at for over sixty years. Released at 69 minutes, the Studio version was both fishy and foul [sic]. Droessler's edit, 78-79 minutes -- and counting -- is much more satisfying; a kind of comic melodrama, full of philosophical observations and overtones.
It is not hard to see from Droessler's inserts to the script of JOURNEY INTO FEAR (and by Larry French's excellent article on the Wellesnet News Page) why RKO, the Breen Office, the Legion of Decency, and the State Department might have wanted so many changes made. The dialogue is full of ignorant and portentous ideas about the Balkans and the Middle East, expressed by the various characters. [No more so than those we have heard in America over the last decade.]
A revelation to me was how effective Frank Readick had become as the English Socialist, Mr. Mathews, in Droessler's version. Readick, for nearly 20 years, was a kind of shadow to Orson Welles. In fact, he had created The Shadow before Welles took over the role in Radio, even narrated, in 1931, a short subject as the magical character "with the power ot cloud men's minds" ("A Burglar to the Rescue"). [Ironically enough, Walter B. Gibson, author of the original Shadow pulp novels, had been a stage magician before he became a writer.] And The Shadow's distinctive laugh remained Readick's forever more because Welles admitted he could never duplicate it accurately.
Readick became one of the Mercury Players on Radio [Reporter Carl Phillips and Operator 2X2L, for instance, in "The War of the Worlds"], and here he is in JOURNEY INTO FEAR, holding his own with Agnes Moorehead, who plays Xanthippe, his shrewish Greek wife. Readick gets off some outrageous lines about how the cartels of the World run things, but his character is so funny that the lines slide right between our ears.
I also thought it was an interesting inside joke that the American Naval Engineer [not British, as in the novel] Howard Graham (Joseph Cotten) is an innocent "raised from the dead" (in the night club scene) like one of the Greek or Mesopotamian gods which the Nazi archaeologist, Professor Haller (Eustace Wyatt), rattles on about.
Another: Oo Lang Sang (Hans Conreid) the Magician, who makes Howard disappear, is shot presumably by Jack Moss (playing the Assassin Peter Banat). Moss, as we now know, was hired as the Mercury Theater business manager partly because he had at one time been a magician on the same bill with Welles.
And in a very real sense, we know, too, Jack Moss made Orson Welles disappear, first from Hollywood; and then, like the young god Welles had been, cut up into little pieces, from the Movies themselves!
Let's hope Stefan Droessler continues to find bits and pieces of JOURNEY INTO FEAR.