The Face Behind the Mask (1941)

Article #445 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 6-3-2002
Posting date: 10-27-2002

An immigrant’s hopes of making it big in the United States are dashed when he is disfigured in a fire. His scarred face makes him unemployable, and he eventually turns to crime.

Once again we have a movie that gets lumped into horror but really doesn’t belong there; even though his face is horribly scarred (you never get a good look at it), Janos Stavos is certainly no monster, nor does this crime drama ever attempt to be a horror movie. Instead, it provides a top-notch vehicle for Peter Lorre, and he is fantastic in this movie; the scenes where he’s a gangster are not so surprising as the opening ones, in which he is a naive immigrant, giddy and excited at his adventure in coming to America and hoping for great things. The story is not entirely convincing, but with Lorre leading the way, it’s very easy to get caught up in the story and to not notice the flaws. Actually, the movie looks very nice for what was apperently a very inexpensive production. I saw the movie years ago on my local Creature Feature, and the final scenes in the desert have stayed with me ever since. It was directed by Robert Florey.


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