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Three Strangers (1946)

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

Director:

Jean Negulesco

Writers:

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

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 January 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Three Men and a Girl See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$457,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Alfred Hitchcock showed early interest in directing. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Johnny West: Don't ever get mixed up with a Chinese goddess. That's the worst thing that can happen, the very worst.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Soundtracks

Waltz in A Flat Major, Op. 39
(uncredited
Music by Johannes Brahms
Played on the piano by Johnny
See more »

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User Reviews

 
In The Hope Of Fortune Coming Their Way
16 January 2009 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The time is 1938 London before the World War. A woman of mystery, Geraldine Fitzgerald, invites two perfect strangers played by Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet up to her apartment. She's a believer in the ancient Chinese god of Kwan Lin and it's said that if Three Strangers wish on that deity and their's is the same wish it will be granted. In this case the wish is money and it's in the form of a sweepstakes ticket that Peter Lorre has purchased and who gives two thirds away to Fitzgerald and Greenstreet in the hope of fortune coming their way.

After this we see a glimpse of the lives of the three people. Lorre is a petty criminal who's gotten himself into a beautiful jackpot being accused of a murder that he didn't commit. Fitzgerald is a shrewish wife who stays married to an unhappy Alan Napier who just wants to be free to marry Marjorie Riordan. This is a harbinger of a role that Fitzgerald really perfected a dozen years later in Ten North Frederick. As for Greenstreet, he's a solicitor, an attorney of no great significance in the legal profession, an English version of a man whose name I was once threatened with named Abe Hecht. It's now become a synonym for cheap shysters with me. Anyway Greenstreet's the trustee of an estate he's been dipping into. He wants to make a financial killing real bad because he thinks that money will buy him respectability which he craves like nothing else.

The film is like a 90 minute version of a Twilight Zone episode, but that's not a putdown because some really classic stuff was done on that program. The script was written by Howard Koch and John Huston and directed by Jean Negulesco. I'm surprised Huston did not want to direct this one himself, but Jean Negulesco got some of the best performances that members of the cast ever gave on screen, especially from the three leads.

Notice no really big movie names are in this cast, no leading men screen legends. That may have been an asset to the film because it concentrates on the story and the characters created. The ironic fates of all three of the sweepstakes ticket sharers could have come right out of the imaginative mind of Rod Serling. And Peter Lorre is actually allowed a little romance in a movie. That alone makes Three Strangers absolutely priceless.

Three Strangers is a B picture gem, one of those low budget sleepers that Hollywood puts out to great critical acclaim that turn a profit because of the low budget. And this review is dedicated to that attorney Abe Hecht whom I never met and to his idiot brother-in-law Morris Stetch who threatened me with him back in 1979. To see if Greenstreet obtains the status of a Clarence Darrow and rises from Abe Hechtdom, don't miss Three Strangers.


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