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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
John Huston was inspired to write the story after he bought an odd statue in London. See more »
When Johnny and Icey are talking in the bar, Johnny's glass goes from him setting it on the table with his left hand, to in the next shot the glass is off the table in his left hand down by his waist. See more »
The best friendships are made on short acquaintance and last a very brief time.
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Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »
Obviously meant as a "Maltese Falcon" ripoff, this is in many ways a much better film, and definitely one of Huston's best. Though set in 1938, it has a strongly pessimistic, existentialist post-WWII feel to it. The three strangers seem to symbolize the forces of greed, cruelty, and self-destruction at the heart of war and human misery in general--and note that in this version there is no Sam Spade to intervene when things go horribly wrong. The hero of the story by default is the romantic alcoholic Johnny West (a tour de force by Peter Lorre in one of the few true lead roles allowed him by the vindictive Jack Warner.) Not that he's morally superior to the vicious Crystal Shackleford or the crass Arbutney, just that he's too apathetic and detached to intentionally harm anyone.
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