A federal agent goes undercover to infiltrate a drug smuggling operation headed by a mysterious Mr. X, a criminal mastermind whose identity is unknown even to his henchmen. Mr. X is also ... See full summary »
John Francis Dillon
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 <email@example.com>
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 »
1941's "The Face Behind the Mask" was among the 12 Columbia titles included in the SON OF SHOCK television package issued in the late 50s, garnering a growing cult that continues to build even today. A solid 'B' offering a rare starring role for the unique talents of Peter Lorre (who cavalierly dismissed it in its day), as Hungarian immigrant Janos Szabo (Lorre), arriving in New York full of boundless enthusiasm as he seeks to make his home in the New World and bring over his fiancée Maria. Tragedy strikes as his hotel burns down, leaving his face scarred beyond repair, a pariah in society despite his skills at watchmaking and aviation. With no work and no future prospects, Janos finds it easier to turn to a life of crime, his mastery at eluding detection without leaving any clues baffling the police. Only when he meets a sweet blind girl does he find his heart stirring again, except his gang won't allow him to quit without repercussions. For an actor who dismissed his profession as 'making faces,' it's remarkable that Lorre's performance shows none of the disdain he may have felt; surely a part that juggles naïve optimism with despairing pessimism, going from criminal mastermind to humanity restored, just doesn't come along every day, and it's a testament to his overall talent that he never lets the film down. George E. Stone tries out his role as 'The Runt' in the upcoming 'Boston Blackie' series at Columbia, and Evelyn Keyes, as the blind Helen, had just played Boris Karloff's daughter in "Before I Hang." Other memorable turns come from James Seay, Al M. Hill, Mary Currier, and the ubiquitous Frank Reicher, as a sympathetic plastic surgeon. Like so many other SHOCK! titles, "The Face Behind the Mask" appeared on Pittsburgh's Chiller Theater on three occasions- Jan 15 1966 (following 1957's "The 27th Day"), Oct 15 1966 (followed by 1961's "The Brainiac"), and Mar 7 1970 (following 1962's "Station Six Sahara").
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