A magician neglects his career and his wife while he pursues the study of hypnosis. His inattention causes his wife to leave him for a younger man. The magician them begins to use his hypnotic powers to manipulate people and to avenge himself.Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
No one will ever accuse THE MASK OF DIIJON of being a landmark thriller/drama/noir/whatever. But this film deserves the honor of having the all-time greatest final 30 seconds in the history of cinema. To reveal its wonderful climactic secret would be to rob the viewer of easily the best moment in the whole film, so I will resist, but it's all more worth watching than one might think.
Erich Von Stroheim chews up every scene he is in, which is the bulk of the picture, and this is a good thing. Anyone who adored him as Max Von Mayerling in SUNSET BLVD. knows full well that there isn't really any such thing as a bad Stroheim performance. He even smiles and laughs - admittedly rather briefly - in THE MASK OF DIIJON.
And the film is, for all its faults in narrative, an inevitably fascinating ultra-cheapie. The very fact that Stroheim committed to the project at all raises eyebrows; he treats the whole picture as a gag and is arguably the only sparkling performer in the whole project, and must have known this. The very opening sequence shows his character reduced to peddling cheap carnival tricks (and in doing so, tricks the audience by creating a fake beginning to the film), so there had to be an air of self-consciousness here, considering that the main conceit of the film (the power of hypnosis) is entirely preposterous. And there are a handful of nice touches throughout, particularly an outlandish sequence where Stroheim hypnotizes a would-be robber and stops the crime cold.
It's all a sublimely ridiculous tale, never believable for a moment, and pure entertainment. And it has the greatest ending ever. Trust me.
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