7.2/10
640
21 user 10 critic

The Face Behind the Mask (1941)

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

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (story) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

An aspiring reporter is the key witness at the murder trial of a young man accused of cutting a café owner's throat and is soon accused of a similar crime himself.

Director: Boris Ingster
Stars: Peter Lorre, John McGuire, Margaret Tallichet
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Mystery writer Cornelius Leyden becomes intrigued when the murdered body of a vicious career criminal washes up in the Bosphorus.

Director: Jean Negulesco
Stars: Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Zachary Scott
Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

In a turn-of-the-century Renaissance Italian mansion, its tyrannical owner, a one-handed, wheelchair-bound pianist, with a strong belief in the occult, is murdered.

Director: Robert Florey
Stars: Robert Alda, Andrea King, Peter Lorre
Mad Love (1935)
Certificate: Passed Horror | Romance | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

An insane surgeon's obsession with an actress leads him to replace her husband's hands with the hands of a knife murderer which still have the urge to throw knives.

Director: Karl Freund
Stars: Peter Lorre, Frances Drake, Colin Clive
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

The housekeeper to a retired actress tries at the same time to look after her own two emotionally disturbed sisters, with dramatic results.

Director: Charles Vidor
Stars: Ida Lupino, Louis Hayward, Evelyn Keyes
Crime | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A mad scientist seeks to mingle human blood with that of an ape, and resorts to kidnapping women for his experiments.

Director: Robert Florey
Stars: Bela Lugosi, Sidney Fox, Leon Ames
Drama | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A fake music-hall clairvoyant meets a woman, and suddenly his predictions seem to come true ...

Director: Maurice Elvey
Stars: Claude Rains, Fay Wray, Mary Clare
Split Second (1953)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Sam Hurley, "Nation's No. 1 killer" with a cold contempt for "heroes," escapes prison with two companions and takes a mixed bag of hostages to Nevada ghost town Lost Hope City. He knows ... See full summary »

Director: Dick Powell
Stars: Stephen McNally, Alexis Smith, Jan Sterling
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Frank Johnson flees police after becoming an eyewitness to murder. He is pursued around scenic San Francisco by his wife, a reporter, the police, and... the real murderer.

Director: Norman Foster
Stars: Ann Sheridan, Dennis O'Keefe, Robert Keith
Comedy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A young divorcee tries to convert a historic house into a hotel despite its oddball inhabitants and dead bodies in the cellar.

Director: Lew Landers
Stars: Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Maxie Rosenbloom
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A former boxer turned cab driver has to hide from the police when his badgering wife is murdered by the jewel thief she was having an affair with.

Director: Phil Karlson
Stars: John Payne, Evelyn Keyes, Brad Dexter
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Undercover agent Mark Sheldon gets paroled to a remote tropical island with a diamond mine manned by slave labor run by sadistic Stephen Danel.

Director: Charles Barton
Stars: Peter Lorre, Rochelle Hudson, Robert Wilcox
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Janos 'Johnny' Szabo
...
Helen Williams
...
Lt. James 'Jim' O'Hara
...
Dinky
...
Watts
Cy Schindell ...
Benson (as Al Seymour)
Stanley Brown ...
Harry
...
Jeff Jeffries
Warren Ashe ...
Johnson, Reporter
...
Chief O'Brien (as Charles Wilson)
George McKay ...
Terry Finnegan
Edit

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
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 January 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Gesicht hinter der Maske  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

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

References I Married Adventure (1940) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
The face behind the mask, it's mutated, hideous, a horrible nightmare. Out of which I can never awake.
9 March 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The Face Behind The Mask is directed by Robert Florey and collectively written by Paul Jarrico, Arthur Levinson and Allen Vincent. It stars Peter Lorre, Evelyn Keyes, Don Beddoe and George E. Stone. Music is by Sidney Cutner and cinematography by Franz Planer.

Hungarian immigrant Janos Szaby (Lorre) arrives in New York City full of hope for the future. Unfortunately he is trapped in a hotel fire which leaves his face severely disfigured. Even though he is a skilled craftsman he is refused employment by many on account of his looks. At his lowest ebb he turns to crime to fund the making of a face mask to hide his disfigurement, while soon enough he is running a little league crime outfit when he happens upon blind Helen Williams (Keyes) and finds a new meaning to life…

The sands of time plays the death rattle.

Lorre dismissed it as a bit of guff, but The Face Behind The Mask showcases one of his greatest performances. It's a film that beats a black heart, where fatalism is dripped over proceedings, the core of the narrative is the shattering of the American dream, and the makers here are not shy to put forward an uncaring society. After a breezy beginning the narrative becomes relentlessly bleak, right up to, and including, a no holds barred chilling finale that's preceded by a monstrous twist.

Florey (also doing some of his best work) and Planer add stark imagery and scene setting that belies the B budget and quick turnover of the production (less than two weeks). A bleak harbour sequence is tonally adroit, the face mask surgery with faces adorning the walls is deliciously macabre, there's torture, too, and oblique backgrounds and shadow play. The dialogue may sometimes be too weak for the haunting story, but the film rises above it because of skills of the cast (Stone and Keyes excellent support for Lorre) and makers alike.

Part noir, part horror and part social drama, it's a film of differing attributes. It's not one for anyone looking to be cheered up, but for those who like to lurk in the shadows and succumb to the dark underbelly of cinema; this is a treat. 8/10


9 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Is it public domain? poonhead1979
See it! Gondorff4
I Liked It...Lorre Hated It? emjee-1
Discuss The Face Behind the Mask (1941) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?