Flesh and Fantasy
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Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Cummings, Edward G. Robinson and Charles Boyer star in the haunting tale of the supernatural, Flesh and Fantasy. When a jittery businessman (Robert Benchley) complains of a disturbing dream, a friend relates three stories to help calm his nerves. In the first, a homely dressmaker (Betty Field) wears a mask of beauty to attract a man (Cummings) on Mardi Gras night. Then, a fortuneteller (Thomas Mitchell) predicts an eminent lawyer (Robinson) will commit a murder, in an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's Lord Arthur Savile's Crime. Lastly, a high wire artist (Boyer), haunted by a nightmare in which he suffers a fall, romances a woman (Stanwyck) who resembles the one he had seen in his dream. From acclaimed French director Julien Duvivier, this rarely seen classic, featuring outstanding performances, explores themes of fantasy and reality that remain timeless.
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It isn't exactly a horror anthology film, although the stories deal with the supernatural and belief in fate and premonitions.
The first story, about a mask, is perhaps the best. It feels like it inspired a famous Twilight Zone episode. The second story, with Edward G. Robinson, is darkly humorous and well done. The final story, with Barbara Stanwyck, is well-done but the ending needs more punch.
Perhaps "Flesh and Fantasy" works best if you know not to approach it as a horror film.