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Jean Negulesco was truly hitting his stride with his classic run of film noirs when he crafted this stylish thriller in which three strangers find their destinies entwined with a mysterious, foreign idol, "The Masters of Mystery," Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet, play two of the strangers, while Geraldine Fitzgerald proves more than a match for the two screen greats as the third.
According to a legend, if three strangers gather before the fables idol of Kwan Yin and make a common wish, the wish shall be granted. Spurned spouse Crystal Shackleford (Fitzgerald) has the idol and enlists a sleazy solicitor (Greenstreet) and a drunken thief (Lorre) in her plans for riches and revenge. But the two strangers have dreams of their own that collide with hers when the idol's powers prove to be real.
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Top Customer Reviews
The result, the story of three strangers in 1938 London who pray to the idol for luck, and how the answer to their prayer affects their interweaving relationships, is something of a neglected classic, with Greenstreet and Lorre doing some of their best acting, and Huston's unusual and fascinating screenplay foreshadowing the theme of how greed affects human relationships which was to feature in many of Huston's own subsequent films like The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Beat the Devil, and The Asphalt Jungle.
Recommended with four stars as an entertaining and interesting piece of cinema which deserves to be better known; if you are a real fan of Lorre or Greenstreet or a serious student of Huston's work, consider it a five star must see. The Warner Archive DVD print quality is very good.
It was especially nice to see Peter Lorre (as a drunken thief) and Sydney Greenstreet (as an embezzling solicitor) together in the film. Both are magnificent in their roles and Geraldine Fitzgerald (as Crystal Shackleford) provided an excellent performance as a spurned wife seeking riches.
The print quality is excellent as is the sound quality. My only problem is that there was no scene selection available. If you do not finish watching the film in one sitting, you much skip ahead to where you left off. If would have been nice to have the ability to find individual scenes.
Overall, the film is interesting but not as well done as The Mask of Demetrius, which I hope is one day transferred to DVD. Still, it is a joy to see Lorre and Greenstreet together again.
A must-have for all Greenstreet fans. And who isn't?
As for disk extras, forget it. Go for the movie or nothing.
The three strangers, Lorre, Greenstreet and Fitzgerald, are brought together by Geraldine who picks the two men up in the street. She is beautiful but too high-class talking and acting to be a common whore. Lorre and Greenstreet are easily lured into her apartment where we learn all three are desperate for money. Lorre has a lottery ticket and the three spookily pray to a Chinese idol for luck. Kwan Yin is the goddess of fortune and destiny. It is the eve of the Chinese New Year. Big Ben tolls the hour of twelve. A sudden wind moans in the window, a candle lit by the idol goes out- it's camp and delicious.
A theme of many Huston screen plays is the effect of greed on human relationships, and people pursuing riches think they are simultaneously pursuing happiness. Kwan Yin is very like the Maltese Falcon. It is man's nature to invent idols to assume responsibility for their own actions. Peter Lorre's character learns a lot about life as the film progresses and he manages to shove a drink aside and paraphrase Shakespeare's famous adage: "it is not in the stars but in ourselves that we are underlings." Is it possible that Lorre actually gets the girl? Watch and see this fine film noir and see!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre were a terrific combination in The Maltese Falcon. Here, not quite so much. A less inspired script and a less polished production. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Tom Diaz
I love a good mystery. however the problem with this film Is it there wasn't much mystery tied into it. The acting is good. The production is good as well. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Atlproctor
First mistake was that I thought this was a Humphrey Bogart movie. That had to be the reason that Amazon recommended this movie to me. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Daniel C. Cunningham
Rather disappointing follow up to Mask of Dimitrios, from the same director. The Huston & Koch screenplay is unconvincing and the end pure Huston (everyone loses everything) but... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Mr Aurelius
Just a great old movie with a tight plot and great dialoguePublished 15 months ago by John Fennelly
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