A-|A+

MoMA

FILM SCREENINGS

<i>The Face Behind the Mask</i>. 1941. USA. Directed by Robert Florey. Image courtesy of the Austrian Filmmuseum
  • The Face behind the Mask

    1941. USA. Robert Florey. 69 min.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012, 6:30 p.m.

Theater 3 (The Celeste Bartos Theater), mezzanine, The Lewis B. and Dorothy Cullman Education and Research Building



  • The Face behind the Mask

    1941. USA. Directed by Robert Florey. Screenplay by Paul Jarrico. With Peter Lorre, Evelyn Keyes, Don Beddoe. “Peter Lorre has never exploited his sensitive face to more heartbreaking ends than in this tragic noir about an immigrant watchmaker who turns to a life of crime” (Guy Maddin). A veteran of Bertolt Brecht’s Epic Theatre, Lorre was immeasurably more versatile than the roles that Hollywood usually reserved for him. Nonetheless, the Austro-Hungarian Jewish émigré was unsurpassed in playing piteous murderers and madmen, his still-haunting performance as the child killer in Fritz Lang’s M leading to similarly anguished performances in The Man Who Knew Too Much, Mad Love, Stranger on the Third Floor, and The Maltese Falcon, along with his sole directorial effort, Der Verlorene (The Lost Man). Lorre found in Robert Florey a director who brought out unforeseen shadings of his familiar image, and self-image, as a desperate outcast. Florey, whose Murders in the Rue Morgue remains one of the most sinister of the 1930s Universal horror films, here substitutes a tender understanding for cheap thrills, preserving the disfigured watchmaker’s dignity through oblique camera angles and shadows, while allowing Lorre’s emotional range and physicality to be brought into higher relief. The two would collaborate once more on The Beast with Five Fingers, in 1946. Preserved print from the Austrian Film Museum; courtesy Sony Pictures Repertory. 69 min.