Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1950s Fear and Desire (1953)

Fear and Desire (1953)

After making some well-received documentaries, Stanley Kubrick quit his day job as a photographer for Look magazine and borrowed money from his father and uncle to make his feature film debut with Fear and Desire.

A fictitious war in an unidentified country provides the setting as a squad of four soldiers survives the crash-landing of their plane to find themselves in a forest six miles behind enemy lines.

The group, led by Lt. Corby (Kenneth Harp) has a plan: They’ll make their way to a nearby river, build a raft, and then – under cover of night – float back to friendly territory.

Their plans for escape are sidetracked by a young woman (Virginia Leith) who stumbles across them as they hide in the woods, and by the nearby presence of an enemy general (also Kenneth Harp) who one member of the group is determined to kill.

Initially conceived by Kubrick as a European-style art film, Fear and Desire was originally shot as a silent film with a budget of just $13,000. The budget went up an additional $20,000 when the actors dubbed their lines in a studio.

Stanley Kubrick disowned the film soon after its release. He destroyed the negative and denounced it as “a bumbling amateur film exercise”. What he didn’t know was that Kodak had a policy of making an extra print for its archives when making a print for a film.

The Stanley Kubrick estate allows viewing of the archived Kodak version of the film with the proviso that it is screened by individuals (not groups), that the print never leaves the building in which it is housed, and that it cannot be duplicated in whole or in part.

Sergeant “Mac ” McClellan
Frank Silvera
Lt. Corby/The General
Kenneth Harp
Paul Mazursky
Fletcher/The Captain
Stephen Coit
The Girl
Virginia Leith
Narrator (voice)
David Allen