Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Friday, September 26, 2008

THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK


THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK (1941). Director: Robert Florey.
Janos Szabo (Peter Lorre) arrives in America full of hope and awe and fully expecting to have his sweetheart join him as soon as he is established. Instead he winds up horribly burned and disfigured in a boarding house fire and looks so terrible that no one will give him a job. He meets up with a kindly small time crook named Dinky (George E. Stone), and is slowly drawn into a life of crime, becoming ringleader of a gang of ambitious thieves. And then he meets a pretty, sensitive blind girl named Helen (Evelyn Keyes) and wants out ..... This is an absorbing and well-acted melodrama with touches of pathos throughout. Lorre is, in a word, superb. Keyes gives a lovely performance and Stone makes Dinky a memorable character in his own right. Don Beddoe is also noteworthy as the cop who befriends Janos when he first gets off the boat. Although different in its way (and not as good) this has some similarities to A Woman's Face which came out the same year. The make up is excellent, particularly when Janos is supposed to be wearing a lookalike mask of his face.
Verdict: Another great Lorre performance. ***.

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