Fear Is The Key (1972) a (ridiculously belated) review

So as I was flying to go see my daughter, I had the time to see a film in my vast (and sadly mostly unwatched) digital movie library. The film I chose to see is the 1972 thriller starring Barry Newman and based on an Alistair MacLean book, Fear Is The Key.

Here’s the movie’s trailer:

I’m a fan of Alastair MacLean’s works. There have been some really, really good films made of them, including The Guns of Navarone, Where Eagles Dare, and Ice Station Zebra.

There have been clunkers as well and this one, I have to admit, I was unaware of until it was pointed out recently to me.

So I purchased a digital copy of the film and, on the flight to my daughter, I watched it.

And it proved to be an enjoyable, if somewhat low budget and (especially those who are familiar with the works of MacLean) somewhat predictable thriller.

Here’s the thing about MacLean’s stories (SPOILERS FOLLOW): Often things are not quite what they seem. The stories are often pulpy action romps featuring “professional” men’s men and full blooded women who may -or may not- have their own agendas.

Thus the opening act of Fear is the Key didn’t really “fool” me and while it was very exciting I kinda knew we were being fed a bit of misdirection.

Again, I’m trying not to be too SPOILERY here so I’ll just leave it at that!

What follows is a fascinating story involving the search for …something… deep on the ocean floor and a lead character played by Barry Newman whom we’re not entirely sure what he’s about.

One could say some of the action at the very start of the film was excessive but I thought it was entertaining enough to kick start the film wonderfully before settling into a more of a thriller.

Again, I don’t want to get too SPOILERY but if you’re into MacLean’s works and adaptations into film, this is a nice one to add to the list. It may not quite be up there with the trifecta of Guns of Navarone or Where Eagles Dare or Ice Station Zebra (IMHO the three best of the best ones) but its a great way to spend an afternoon… or in my case, a flight!


Today, Sunday the 7th, marks the 18th and last week of the regular season of Football and the final game (I don’t believe there is a Monday night game, no?) of the season which will be aired features my Miami Dolphins against the Buffalo Bills, starting at 8:20pm Eastern time.

The Dolphins are already in the post-season but the Buffalo Bills need to win this game to get into the post-season and I expect they’re come in and play as hard as they can.

My Dolphins have been such a roller coaster of a team to watch. When they’re good they’re so damn good but when they’re bad…

Part of it has to do with the amount of injuries the team has sustained. It has been, frankly, ridiculous. There was also at least one game, the one they played against the Philadelphia Eagles, where the referees and the penalties they laid out (all against the Dolphins, none against the Eagles) that was IMHO very questionable.

Understand: I’ve been watching Football since the early 1980’s. There are going to be games where calls go against you and there are going to be games where you get the calls. I get that.

But that was the first game where I have to say I think the Refs were blind to the actions of one team.

Either way, it happened and its done and now we’ve got this one game to either show we’re tough against the “hard” teams (that’s been the story it seems all year: We take care of the “weak” teams but have trouble against the “good” ones).

Let’s see what happens…

Please let karma be real…

…because after the last two weeks, I’m in need of some good stuff happening.

First though: Sorry for the dearth of posts. It’s been unreal how busy I’ve been the last few weeks and, in particular the last couple of weeks starting from just before Christmas. I’ll get to that in a moment.

But its just been unreal busy for me. I’ve finished up the 4th draft of my latest novel and finally feel like I’m seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The novel is solid and feels like what I was hoping it would be.

There is a second work I’m involved in though that one features less of a day to day input on my part. The hardest stuff I’ve already done and when I do work on it, it’s after my partner has done his part. Don’t mean to sound all cryptic about it but when the time approaches, I’ll give more information.

Suffice to say, I believe in the first half of this new year there will be not one but two pretty cool works released, my latest novel and the first part of this secondary project.

Now then, what happened from just before Christmas:

I have another job (yet another) and this one decided to take the proverbial shit in the bed the Thursday before I was heading out to see my daughter in another state.

I got a call at 1:00 am that Thursday super early in the morning of a strange power failure. I headed out there and spent from 1:30 am to 12 noon dealing with electrical issues. In time I finally found out that a transformer a building over had blown and caused a power failure through 1/2 our building… as well as the other buildings on the block.

Our power company sure did take its time time finally arrive by close to noon and work on it and get things going again. But in our building, the elevator was out and I had to call the elevator company to get it rebooted… even as I discovered one of our employees had gotten themselves trapped in the elevator (thank the gods it wasn’t a client…!).

Thinking that was it, I finally headed home.

Morgan Freeman voice: That wasn’t it.

For the next week plus while on “vacation” I was literally on the phone each day dealing with the repercussions of this transformer’s failure. Our phone system? Half-fried. Our internet modem? Fried as well.

From a distance I made calls and dealt with all those problems plus the fact that we were at the cusp of Christmas and finding people to fix these problems, I feared, would be really hard.

So now another week passes and finally I had one day without having to call the business. Then another.

My daughter, who was sick the week before, started feeling better. Then, just as we were about to fly out and back home, she took a turn for the worse.

So bad she wanted to stay at her house and have us take a taxi or Uber to the airport.

However, it was too late for either and I drove us there with the intention of letting her rest then she could drive her car back home. We get to the airport and she’s feeling really bad. So bad that we tell her to immediately go to Urgent Care to get looked at.

She takes off and for the next hour plus we’re seriously considering having one of us turn around, not take the flight back home, and go taxi ourselves to the Urgent Care.

My daughter, it turned out, had Influenza. We think she was first sick with a cold, got better, then somehow caught the influenza.

Urgent Care gave her fluids and drugs and sent her home and we flew back, not totally content with the situation but knowing we had to get back to deal with our home, pets, and jobs.

This was December 31st.

We get home and I’m exhausted.

I think its just exhaustion from dealing with the problems due to the transformer blowing throughout my “vacation” and then the last minute issues with my daughter.

It turned out to be something else.

I caught the influenza from my daughter. And I was really, really freaking sick from it. Like barely-able-to-get-out-of-the-bed sick. But I had to. You see, there were still things to be dealt with regarding that blown transformer and burnt out equipment…!

I, like my wife, was vaccinated for the flu but I think the stress of dealing with all this shit got to me and on Monday the 1st of January I was feeling bad and by Tuesday even worse. That day it was my turn to go to Urgent Care and get medications.

Today, Sunday the 7th, I feel like I’m over most of it.

As I said above, I hope there is such a thing as karma because truly I could not have ended 2023 and entered 2024 in too much worse shape than I have.

Let’s see if the rest of 2024 treats me a little kinder…!

Otherwise, let me very belatedly say: Hope everyone has had a great holiday and New Years!

No such luck for me but c’est la vie!