The Mask of Diijon (1946)

Article #462 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 6-20-2002
Posting date: 11-13-2002

A stage magician discovers that he has developed real powers of hypnotism, and decides to use them to seek revenge on those who he imagines have wronged him.

It’s always interesting to watch Erich Von Stroheim in action; he had the ability to imbue even the most mundane of phrases with sinister undercurrents of meaning. Unfortunately, not every role is right for him, and despite the fact that he is the most interesting thing here, there’s a limit to what he can do with the role. The movie works all right throughout the first half; it’s only after he mistakes an innocent moment between his wife and a friend of hers for philandering that the movie really becomes quite predictable; you can only watch Stroheim hypnotize people so many times before it becomes tiresome. And the ending –

– in which he barricades himself in a magic shop and engages in a gunfight with the police is clearly not the sort of thing that was right for this actor. The ending is also far-fetched and a little too convenient. Stroheim really needed a role to match his talents.

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