In the tradition of his earlier Carnival in Flanders and Tales of Manhattan, director Julien Duvivier's Flesh and Fantasy is a "pormanteau" film, consisting of several short stories. Linking the three tales unfolded herein are clubmen Doakes (Robert Benchley) and Davis (David Hoffman), who carry on a spirited debate about Destiny. In the first story, homely Henrietta (Betty Field) is made beautiful through the love of handsome Mardi Gras reveller Michael (Robert Cummings)-and the help of an enigmatic mask-maker (Edgar Barrier). The second story, based on Oscar Wilde's "Lord Arthur Saville's Crime", concerns a fortune teller named Septimus Podgers (Thomas Mitchell) who predicts that socialite Marshall Tyler (Edward G. Robinson) will commit a murder. In the final tale, psychic high wire artist Paul Gaspar (Charles Boyer) dreams that he will meet his doom during the performance of his act-and then falls in love with Joan Stanley (Barbara Stanwyck), who looks exactly like the girl who appeared in that dream. A fourth story, detailing the doomed romance between a fugitive from justice (Alan Curtis) and a blind girl (Gloria Jean), was cut from Flesh and Fantasy, then expanded and released separately as Destiny (1944).
by Hal Erickson synopsis