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Three Strangers (1946)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 28 January 1946 (USA)
1:58 | Trailer
Three strangers, each with a serious problem in their lives, share a sweepstakes ticket which they wished upon together before a Chinese idol.


Jean Negulesco


John Huston (original screenplay), Howard Koch (original screenplay)





Complete credited cast:
Sydney Greenstreet ... Jerome K. Arbutny
Geraldine Fitzgerald ... Crystal Shackleford
Peter Lorre ... Johnny West
Joan Lorring ... Icey Crane
Robert Shayne ... Bertram Fallon
Marjorie Riordan Marjorie Riordan ... Janet Elliott
Arthur Shields ... Prosecutor
Rosalind Ivan ... Lady Rhea Belladon
John Alvin ... Junior Clerk
Peter Whitney ... Timothy Delaney aka Gabby
Alan Napier ... David Shackleford
Clifford Brooke ... Senior Clerk
Doris Lloyd ... Mrs. Proctor


According to a legend, if three strangers gather before an idol of Kwan Yin (the Chinese goddess of fortune and destiny) on the night of the Chinese New Year and make a common wish, Kwan Yin will open her eyes and her heart and grant the wish. In London 1938 on the Chinese New Year, Crystal Shackleford has such an idol and decides to put the legend to the test. She picks two random strangers off the street, and puts the proposition to them. They decide that an ideal wish would be for a sweepstakes ticket they buy equal shares in to be a winner. After all, everyone needs money and a pot is very easy to divide equally, right? Written by Ken Yousten <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


BREATHTAKING SUSPENSE - THRILLS! (original ad - all caps)


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Did You Know?


Actor Alan Napier, who appears as David Shackleford in this film , has become better known as Bruce Wayne's butler in the Batman (1966) TV series of the 1960's. See more »


When David and Janet are talking; she is holding a lighter in her right hand then holds the hand above the table and away from her. But on the following cut which is a reverse shot; the hand is now resting on the table and closer to her. See more »


David Shackleford: [to Crystal] You only want what you can't have as long as you can't have it.
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Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »


Featured in Frances Farmer Presents: Three Strangers (1959) See more »


I Dreampt I Dwelt in Marble Halls
Written by Michael William Balfe (as Michael Balfe) and Alfred Bunn (1843)
Played by Johnny on broken record in prison cell.
See more »

User Reviews

Three Strangers (1946)
3 January 2012 | by MartinTellerSee all my reviews

A woman entices two strangers to her home to fulfill an unusual Chinese prophecy, granting a wish... in this case, a horse race ticket that they hope to be a winner. With a screenplay by John Huston and appearances by Lorre and Greenstreet, and a figurine as a major plot device, you might expect a MALTESE FALCON retread. But this is a very different story. I hesitate to call it noir, although it does have some of the visual stylization and explores some of man's darker impulses. But it's really more of a triptych character study. The three represent different moral stances: Fitzgerald is conniving and ruthless, Greenstreet does something wrong but at least has enough decency to be conflicted about it, and Lorre is simply a carefree drunk who trusts the wrong people. I didn't count the minutes, but it felt like Lorre got the most screen time, and deservedly so. I don't know if I've ever seen a better performance from him, certainly not a more likable one. He's a charming character with a thoughtful outlook on life. His story also has the benefit of wonderful turns by Peter Whitney and especially Joan Lorring, a very appealing actress I've never seen before, but I'm delighted to see appears in a few more noirs I intended to see. Greenstreet's and Fitzgerald's plot threads are interesting as well, and the way all they come together and resolve at the end is satisfying. It's a quirky film with a very good script, quite fulfilling.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

28 January 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Three Men and a Girl See more »


Box Office


$457,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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