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April 1994


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BRIAN TAVES <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 6 Apr 1994 09:27:09 GMT
text/plain (29 lines)
          Brandy Lorenz:  Re  your beauty and  the  beast theme inquiry you
          might want to consider THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK (Columbia, 1941),
          one  of  the most complex and celebrated of  the major studio "B"
          films of that era; the  b  andb theme is central . Astonishingly,
          for a picture shot in just over three weeks, it is simultaneously
          a horror film and a social consciousness picture, with a touching
          love story, a  strong impression of  the immigrant, urban milieu,
          and a commentary on  the treatment of  the handicapped. The story
          concerns a hopeful new immigrant to the US who is severely burned
          in  a  hotel fire  . Although an expert watchmaker, his resulting
          facial disfigurement causes him to be denied employment, until in
          despair he eventually drifts into  a  life of crime. Only when he
          meets  a  blind girl, unaffected by  his appearance, does someone
          recognize his true nature, and  he reforms, but she  is killed by
          his suspicious former associates. He  exacts revenge, sacrificing
          his life  in  the process; Peter Lorre had  the lead, with Evelyn
          Keyes as the girl. The initial release lasted nearly three years,
          extraordinarily long for a "B" of the time, and it was rereleased
          on multiple occasions into  the  50s.  This indicates its general
          popularity, and although critically well received, some reviewers
          of  the  time found  the realistic depiction of  the beauty-beast
          theme offensive. Director Robert Florey was  a  friend of Cocteau
          and the French intellectual and filmmaking community in general.
          If this is of any help, there is more in my book on Florey.
          Brian Taves
          Motion Picture Division
          Library of Congress