The Mask of Dimitrios (1944)

Genres - Mystery, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Film Noir, Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - Jun 23, 1944 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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The Mask of Dimitrios is an intricate little conspiracy thriller-cum-film noir that provides a great deal of entertainment value for fans of intrigue and betrayal, all cast in shadowy light that obscures as much as it illuminates. Indeed, Mask would be a top tier noir entry were it not for the fact that the script bogs down in talk a bit too often. The dialogue is good, often enticing; but too often scenarist Frank Gruber settles for telling us things that, in a movie, he should be showing us. This is a minor flaw, however, and fans of this type of film will find Mask quite rewarding. Certainly the basic set-up -- is a recently discovered corpse truly that of the master criminal Dimitrios? -- is familiar but immensely workable, and the twists and turns that it provides are captivating. Jean Negulesco directs with style and flair; if he occasionally gets waylaid by some of the more verbose sections, he still pulls the film back on track and regains momentum each time. He's aided enormously by Arthur Edeson's superb cinematography, a crucial element in this type of film. The cast is a plus, too, with excellent work from Zachary Scott, Peter Lorre (playing a sympathetic character for once), Victor Francen and, above all, the unique Sydney Greenstreet.