Two clubmen discuss the occult, introducing three weird tales: 1) Plain, bitter Henrietta secretly loves law student Michael. Then on Mardi Gras night, a mysterious stranger gives her a mask of beauty that she must return at midnight. 2) At a party, palmist Podgers makes uncannily accurate predictions, later telling skeptic Marshal Tyler that he will murder someone. The notion obsesses Tyler, with ironic consequences. 3) High wire artist Gaspar dreams of falling, then loses his nerve. He recognizes Joan from his dreams, and falls for her. Will any of his dreams, involving Joan and disaster, come true? Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
The inevitability of Fate and the mysterious movements of Destiny control our FLESH AND FANTASY.
Director Julien Duvivier, in a follow-up to his previous TALES OF MANHATTAN (1942), crafted this new & intriguing sequential film. The emphasis, this time, is on the supernatural and precognition. In spite of the film's homilies about the ultimate power of personal responsibility, the movie is in reality about nothing more than providing some suspenseful entertainment for its audience.
The three sequences are tied together by Robert Benchley, in his famous character of Doakes, who is shown the stories in a book at his men's club in an attempt to help him get over a case of the jitters.
SEQUENCE ONE A bitter, unattractive seamstress (Betty Field) hopes a Mardi Gras mask will help her attract the affections of a young student (Robert Cummings). Edgar Barrier appears as the mysterious mask maker. Movie mavens will spot Marjorie Lord as a desperate client and Peter Lawford as an inquisitive Pierrot, both unbilled.
The most intriguing moments in this sequence happens in the first few seconds, when demons are shown pulling a corpse out of the water, and in the last few, when the viewer sees what is in the mask shop window. Mr. Barrier's voice, honed by years of stage and radio experience, is put to good effect.
SEQUENCE TWO A London lawyer (Edward G. Robinson) is told by a celebrated palmist (Thomas Mitchell) that he will commit a murder. Anna Lee appears as Robinson's fiancée; Dame May Whitty as her gossipy godmother. Wonderful Sir C. Aubrey Smith makes the most of his short role as a saintly cleric. Doris Lloyd plays a grieved widow, and Ian Wolfe a librarian, both uncredited.
Based on a short story by Oscar Wilde, this is the film's most compelling episode. The acting is especially good, with Robinson topnotch and Mitchell turning in a canny performance. The special effects, in which Robinson discourses with his own reflection, are executed very nicely. Notice the mistake in the credits when they refer to Sir C. Aubrey Smith's character as the Dean of Chichester rather than the Dean of Norwalk.
SEQUENCE THREE A circus aerialist (Charles Boyer) has a frightening dream in which he sees a beautiful woman (Barbara Stanwyck)-- and then he meets her. Charles Winninger plays the concerned owner of the circus. Clarence Muse appears unbilled as Boyer's attendant.
The story is slightly silly, but the stars make a fine effort and the high wire scenes, using a double, are indeed suspenseful.
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