Saturday, September 5, 2020


The little know film The Face Behind The Mask (1941) is one of my favorite film noir of all time, but when the movie came out the initial review was not too kind. I 100% disagree with this review. Here is the original review that appeared in the NY Times on February 7, 1941...

Despite a certain pretentiousness toward things psychological, "The Face Behind the Mask," current at the Rialto, may safely be set down as just another bald melodramatic exercise in which the talents of Peter Lorre again are stymied by hackneyed dialogue and conventional plot manipulations. 

As an immigrant whose hopes of acquiring a footing in the new world are dashed after his face is horribly disfigured in a boarding house fire, Mr. Lorre strives earnestly to present a psychological study of a man who is driven, to crime against the dictates of his conscience in order to finance a plastic surgery operation. But this theme is not fully developed by the scenarists, nor is it pointed up to any extent by Director Robert Florey. 

The deliberate pace at which the story unfolds tends more to expose its flaws than to create a brooding atmosphere of conflict between the mind and soul of the protagonist. Peter Lorre is wasted in this one dimensional role as is the young and beautiful Evelyn Keyes. Both actors must be fullfilling a contract obligation to Columbia Pictures to make a film so beneath them...

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