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The Face Behind the Mask (1941)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 16 January 1941 (USA)
A disfigured watch-maker with a grudge against society embarks on a life of crime.

Director:

Robert Florey

Writers:

Paul Jarrico (screenplay), Arthur Levinson (story) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Peter Lorre ... Janos 'Johnny' Szabo
Evelyn Keyes ... Helen Williams
Don Beddoe ... Lt. James 'Jim' O'Hara
George E. Stone ... Dinky
John Tyrrell ... Watts
Cy Schindell ... Benson (as Al Seymour)
Stanley Brown ... Harry
James Seay ... Jeff Jeffries
Warren Ashe Warren Ashe ... Johnson, Reporter
Charles C. Wilson ... Chief O'Brien (as Charles Wilson)
George McKay George McKay ... Terry Finnegan
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Storyline

Janos Szaby is a kind, innocent immigrant to America. Just after he arrives though, he is caught in a fire and his face is horribly burned and disfigured. Although a skilled craftsman his hideous features make it impossible for him to get work, and driven by despair he is forced to turn to crime to live. He finds himself very proficient at that, and soon makes enough money to buy a very lifelike mask to hide his scars behind. He hates what he does, but is he in too deep to get out? Written by Ken Yousten <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

What strange terror does this mask conceal? See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 January 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Gesicht hinter der Maske See more »

Filming Locations:

Yuma, Arizona, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Part of the SON OF SHOCK package of 20 titles released to television in 1958, which followed the original Shock Theater release of 52 features one year earlier. This was also one of the 11 Columbia titles, the other 61 all being Universals. See more »

Quotes

Dinky: What do you get out of bein' dead? Layin' in a grave ain't my idea of life.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Who Is Henry Jaglom? (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

Great Performance from Lorre
25 May 2010 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Face Behind the Mask, The (1941)

*** (out of 4)

Peter Lorre's excellent performance highlights this entertaining, if predictable, melodrama from Columbia and director Florey. In the film Lorre plays Janos Szabo, a immigrant who comes to America to earn enough money to bring the woman he loves over so that they can be married. Soon after his arrival his face is horrible disfigured in a hotel fire and he gets to see the ugly side of the country because no one will give him a job or even look at him. He eventually meets a friend (George E. Stone) who talks him into a life of crime so that he can raise enough money to get a new face but soon he meets a blind woman (Evelyn Keyes) who might make him think differently. There's a lot of plot going on in this film but there's no denying that Lorre gives an incredible performance and it makes this thing worth viewing no matter how predictable the screenplay is. There's really nothing here that will come out of left field as we get Lorre's character built up as such a great guy and then we get the accident and then we get the crime and of course he'd just happen to meet a blind girl, which itself turns into a couple more predictable moments. One doesn't mind this as the film does have some very good moments including the actual fire sequence as well as the aftermath when Lorre finally sees his new face. As for Lorre, there's no question this here is one of his strongest performances as we believe him as the good guy getting off the ship and we can also believe him and the anger of what has happened to him. I think the film would have benefited from his bad side behind a lot darker than the film allows but I'm sure this was watered down so that the romance side of things could flourish. Keyes is also very good in his role as the blind girl and Stone, best known for his Boston Blackie films, is very good as well. Don Beddoe adds nice support as the cop who helps Lorre and James Seay is nice as the rival. Florey's direction is very good throughout and especially during some of the darker moments right after the accident. The director does a pretty good job at handling the various aspects of this film and pulls everything together well enough to keep the film going. This is a good film but not a classic one. I think with a little tinkering of the script we could have had something even better but as is, it's great to see Lorre in a role he can do so much with.


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