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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Robert Florey
USA 1941

 

Acclaimed but rarely seen film noir/crime gem from 1941 starring Peter Lorre who plays a disfigured watchmaker with a grudge against society embarks on a life of crime.

***

In this low-budget thriller, Peter Lorre plays Janos Szabo, an immigrant from Hungary who is a skilled craftsman. After he's caught in a fire, his face is horribly scarred; his terrifying appearance makes it impossible for him to get a job. With nowhere else to turn, Janos begins working for the criminal underworld. Janos begins having second thoughts about his life of crime when he falls in love.

***

Lorre is superlative as an immigrant watchmaker who arrives in America full of beaming enthusiasm for the promised land (his scenes with Beddoe, as the neighbourhood cop totally disarmed by his naive friendliness, are a joy), but whose reward is horrible disfigurement in a tenement fire. Forced to turn to crime to pay for the expensive facial mask without which he is unemployable, suicidally distressed by the betrayal of his own ideals, he is redeemed by the love of a blind girl (Evelyn Keyes)...a tender, totally unsentimental idyll ended when her death by violence leaves him to plot a cold-blooded, self-immolating revenge. With Lorre's own sensitive features serving miraculously as the expressionless 'mask', while Florey's direction and Franz Planer's camerawork put scarcely a foot wrong, the film effortlessly transcends its B horror status to become a bleak, plangently poetic little tragedy.

Excerpt from Timeout located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: January 14th, 1941

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Review: Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray

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Distribution Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:08:05.915        
Video

1.33:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 29,543,489,120 bytes

Feature: 19,791,015,936 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.32 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Imprint

 

1.33:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 29,543,489,120 bytes

Feature: 19,791,015,936 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.32 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

NEW Audio Commentary by film historian Alan K Rode (2020)
Peter Lorre: An Appreciation. Video Interview with film historian Alan K Rode (2021) (23:50)
Kim Newman Video Interview on Face Behind The Mask (2020) (19:37)


Blu-ray Release Date:
May, 2021
Transparent Blu-ray Case inside slipcase

Chapters 7

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Imprint Blu-ray (June 2021): Imprint have transferred Robert Florey's The Face Behind the Mask to Blu-ray. It is cited as being a "debut in stunning HD". It looks marvelous; plenty of grain, surprisingly tight visuals with only a few inordinately soft sequences. There are speckles and surface marks but overall this has reasonably rich black levels and a highly pleasing appearance in 1080P. There are even instances of depth - overall it far exceeds expectations on a dual-layered disc with a very high bitrate. Columbia prints are usually in excellent condition and this is no exception.

NOTE: We have added 76 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

On their Blu-ray, Imprint use a linear PCM dual-mono track (24-bit) in the original English language. It authentically flat with only the apartment fire and airplane sequences carrying any depth. There is an uncredited score by Sidney Cutner (Those Redheads From Seattle, and part of the music department for Gun Crazy and Rear Window) sounding dramatic and subtle in the appropriate moments. Imprint offer optional English subtitles on their Region FREE Blu-ray.

The Imprint Blu-ray offers a new (2021) commentary by Alan K. Rode  - a consistent Noir commentarists who has written biographies of Michael Curtiz and Charles McGraw. He is always well-prepared and exports stories and anecdotes involving Peter Lorre (drug addiction), Evelyn Keyes (marital issues), Robert Florey (missing out on Frankenstein), the censorship issues, and more. Rode posits the questions is The Face Behind the Mask a melodrama?, film noir?, horror? or all three. He reads excerpts from reviews and bios and always has interesting details to relate. He discusses how this often recalls 1990's Darkman (Liam Neeson) and makes extraneous connections to many other films with the cast, crew and more. It is, predictably, excellent. There is also, from Rode, a new Peter Lorre: An Appreciation 24-minute interview with the film historian discussing the highly interesting career of the, iconic, incomparable character actor. This wouldn't be complete with a 20-minute Kim Newman interview on The Face Behind the Mask providing his own interesting take on this 1941 gem. He is golden. The package has a limited edition slipcase.   

Peter Lorre's The Face Behind the Mask is, in many ways, a perfect genre-mix film. Perhaps a personal preference - but I love these short, economical, vintage efforts especially involving a corrupted protagonist, obvious but effective melodrama and an especially visually-censored horror element... that has a magnificent Peter Lorre and blind-girl next-door Evelyn Keyes!  Vintage film fans should be chomping-at-the-bit over this essential, re-watchable Imprint Blu-ray with it valued new commentary and two video extras. Abso-posa-lutely recommended!

Gary Tooze

 

Package - Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


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Distribution Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray


 


 

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