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William A. Seiter
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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A fourth story was filmed but was cut from the final print; it was to open the film and the discovery of the drowned body was to link it to the mask story. The cut footage was expanded into a feature film, 1944's DESTINY. See more »
haven't seen this one in years but never forgot it
I finally obtained "Flesh and Fantasy" from someone who taped it off of television. What television, I don't know, since I have never seen it on TCM. And God forbid that Universal should release it on DVD. Given that there are only 11 reviews, it doesn't appear that it's seen too often.
Charles Boyer coproduced this film, and one assumes that Julien Duvivier and he were friends, and he got Duvivier to direct. Good choice as he does an excellent job. Also, Duvivier had directed the successful anthology film, Tales of Manhattan.
The film begins with a discussion (by Robert Benchley and another man) about the truth of dreams, fortunetelling, superstition and the like. Then three stories, ostensibly from a book, are told. The first is a story by Ellis St. Joseph, starring Robert Cummings and Betty Field, about a bitter, mean, ugly woman who dons a mask on Mardi Gras that makes her look beautiful.
The second story, Lord Arthur Savile's Crime, is by Oscar Wilde, about a fortuneteller (Thomas Mitchell) who tells a man (Edward G. Robinson) that he is going to commit a murder. The ending of this story was changed due to the Hays Code.
The third story, by Laszlo Vadnay, flows from the second one as The Great Gaspar (Charles Boyer) witnesses something at the end of the previous story. Gaspar is a high wire artist who dreams that he falls, and in his dream, he sees a screaming (Barbara Stanwyck) who is wearing unusual earrings. He then meets her when the circus troupe is sailing abroad.
Each story explores some question: can fantasy become reality, can a prediction become a self-fulfilling prophecy, are dreams real warnings? Very entertaining, with good performances and direction, with three good stories.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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