Three Strangers (1946)

Genres - Crime, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama  |   Release Date - Jan 28, 1946 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Jean Negulesco's Three Strangers was obviously made, in part, as an effort to emulate the successful elements of Val Lewton's horror/fantasy films at RKO, as well as the linked anthology structure of Dead of Night (and such earlier efforts of that sort as If I Had A Million and Tales of Manhattan). That it succeeds is a tribute to its somewhat simpler story (courtesy of John Huston and Howard Koch) and the excellence of its cast, most especially Peter Lorre, working against type as the romantic lead. In a role that might more conventionally have gone to Charles Boyer, Lorre proves both sympathetic and convincingly attractive to women, while retaining a certain wry wit to his work. Sydney Greenstreet is over the top in a part written precisely that way, and Geraldine Fitzgerald is fine as a woman haunted -- ultimately, to death -- by bargains and choices she has made in life. Negulesco's stylized, fast-paced visual narrative style is just off-kilter enough to keep the viewer in suspense as to what waits behind each edit and dissolve. And the entire piece makes for a neat piece of thriller story-telling, of the sort that anticipates what we would come to expect weekly from Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Twilight Zone etc. a dozen or so years later.