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The Face Behind the Mask

Released Jan 16, 1941 1h 9m Horror List
Reviews 68% Audience Score 100+ Ratings Hungarian immigrant Janos Szabo (Peter Lorre) is left disfigured after a fire. When his scarred appearance keeps him from finding employment, Janos teams up with thieves Watts (John Tyrrell) and Benson (Al Seymour), who value his safe-cracking abilities, and saves his share of every robbery for plastic surgery. Janos meets Helen Williams (Evelyn Keyes), a blind woman, and falls in love. He decides to end his criminal career, but the gang suspects he may double-cross them. Read More Read Less

Critics Reviews

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Dennis Schwartz Dennis Schwartz Movie Reviews The film is a horror story in that it offers a vision of the American Dream turning ugly and wrong. Rated: B+ Feb 4, 2008 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Audience Member Originally released in 1941, this is an interesting morality play - seemingly isnpired by both mobster & monster movies. Lorre gives the part his usual intensity, including assaulting a tough guy who is nearly a foot taller! As in most Hollywood films Love, Honesty, & Morality eventually win out but not before some serious detours. Also interesting that this film (2 years after war broke out in Europe) depicts an immigrant as an honest, clever, hardworking, if a bit nervous person willing to do any task with vigor and appreciation for any opportunity. It is only extreme hardship -inadvertently created by American citizens looking only skin deep- that the immigrant becomes untrustworthy or dangerous. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/25/23 Full Review Audience Member I'm not sure why this is dated 2003, it's 1941 and Lorre is outstanding prior to being completely typecast. Here he plays a kind immigrant forced into a life of crime, something he finds he has a real talent for, and finally finding redemption in an act of cruel vengeance. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/02/23 Full Review s r Hungarian immigrant sincerely tries for the good life, but due to hardships is forced to compromise his values until he is reminded of them by a beautiful blind woman. It was good, but not great. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member Fine low budget early Peter Lorre picture where he plays a watchmaker immigrant who's disfigured in a fire and then dons a creepy mask and sets out on a life of crime. The story then turns more poignant when the love of a good woman (a blind woman) makes him reconsider his criminal ways. It's kind of a gonzo crime melodrama that is at times more goofy in a not so good way than it is macabre in a good Tod Browning sort of way, but Lorre is great and immensely entertaining. Also, the film has some terrifically moody photography from Franz Planer, who'd later photograph classics like "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and "The Caine Mutiny." Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/31/23 Full Review Audience Member Good sentimental-type movie with sad ending! Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/02/23 Full Review Audience Member Honesty doesn't pay. Johnny Szabo arrives in the United States as a foreigner with hopes of earning enough money to pay for his love interest to join him in America. Unfortunately, shortly after moving into an apartment building and obtaining a job, the apartment catches on fire and his face is badly injured. With no money and no hope for a normal life...he is forced into a life of crime. "Heads he jumps. Tails he doesn't. Heads I save him. Tails I don't." Robert Florey, director of Murders in the Rue Morgue, Four Star Playhouse, The Cocoanuts, Death of a Champion, Man from Frisco, and The Vicious Years, delivers The Face Behind the Mask. The storyline for this picture is just okay and could have contained more violence. The character development was solid as was the action. The cast includes Peter Lorre, Evelyn Keyes, Don Beddoe, and George Stone. "You can buy anything with money." "Money can buy me a new face?" I DVR'd this picture off Antenna Television because it starred the great Peter Lorre. I wouldn't say Lorre is an "excellent" actor, but he is very eccentric and unpredictable. I will say I enjoyed this movie and the character portrayal, but the film overall was just okay. I would only recommend seeing this if you are a fan of Lorre. "American police are wonderful." Grade: B- Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/19/23 Full Review Read all reviews
The Face Behind the Mask

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Cast & Crew

Movie Info

Synopsis Hungarian immigrant Janos Szabo (Peter Lorre) is left disfigured after a fire. When his scarred appearance keeps him from finding employment, Janos teams up with thieves Watts (John Tyrrell) and Benson (Al Seymour), who value his safe-cracking abilities, and saves his share of every robbery for plastic surgery. Janos meets Helen Williams (Evelyn Keyes), a blind woman, and falls in love. He decides to end his criminal career, but the gang suspects he may double-cross them.
Director
Robert Florey
Producer
Wallace MacDonald
Screenwriter
Arthur Levinson, Paul Jarrico, Thomas Edward O'Connell, Allen Vincent
Distributor
Network Enterprises [us], Columbia Pictures
Production Co
Columbia Pictures Corporation
Genre
Horror
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
Jan 16, 1941, Original
Runtime
1h 9m
Sound Mix
Mono