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Andrew L. Stone
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>
Eighth of nine films in which Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet appeared together, all released by Warner Bros. from 1941 to 1946, starting with The Maltese Falcon (1941). 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 »
One of the most unusual facets of the movie that struck me was the gowns/dresses designed for the lead actress--they stood out in this black and white movie making a not-so-tall Geraldine Fitzgerald look tall and elegant. Very few films have costume designs that out-do the performances--this film is one that achieves this unusual distinction.
Equally unusual was the written prologue for the film on the statue. It wreaked of populist myths of the Orient and then ended with the statement that the film's location was London. One expected British mannerisms and accents and its distinctive transport--but the only reasons for the choice of the locations seemed to be the legal system, the law on Trusts, the pubs, the mention of Canada being far away, the South African mines, and the solicitor's office. The rest was distinctly American. Curious stuff.
The film was equally curious for another factor: two women Icey and Janet look disturbingly similar, two men look considerably alike Mr Shackleford and Mr Fallon, save for their difference in height. Was there some reason for this or was this a coincidence.
Apart from these details, the film provided much of the fare that "The Maltese Falcon" made cinema history--John Huston's screenplay and the enigmatic performances of Greenstreet and Lorre. Greenstreet did not have the brilliant lines of "Falcon" to aid him but his chortling performance is nevertheless fascinating. Lorre on the other hand provides the best performance because the grey cocktail of good and bad touches the viewer. Similarly the lead character of Fitzgerald leaves the viewer wondering whether the character deserves our sympathy or not.
At the end, the viewer is forced to see ourselves in the mirror--we are but pawns of a mightier force, and none of us is either a villain or a saint. The film quite unwittingly makes the viewer think about life. That is probably why this film ought to rate better than "The Maltese Falcon" which no doubt has more catchy dialogues but less substance.
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