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Three Strangers

Posted by martinteller on November 16, 2011

A woman entices two strangers to her home to fulfill an unusual Chinese prophecy, granting a wish… in this case, a horse race ticket that they hope to be a winner.  With a screenplay by John Huston and appearances by Lorre and Greenstreet, and a figurine as a major plot device, you might expect a Maltese Falcon retread.  But this is a very different story.  I hesitate to call it noir, although it does have some of the visual stylization and explores some of man’s darker impulses.  But it’s really more of a triptych character study.  The three represent different moral stances: Fitzgerald is conniving and ruthless, Greenstreet does something wrong but at least has enough decency to be conflicted about it, and Lorre is simply a carefree drunk who trusts the wrong people.  I didn’t count the minutes, but it felt like Lorre got the most screentime, and deservedly so.  I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better performance from him, certainly not a more likeable one.  He’s a charming character with a thoughtful outlook on life.  His story also has the benefit of wonderful turns by Peter Whitney and especially Joan Lorring, a very appealing actress I’ve never seen before, but I’m delighted to see appears in a few more noirs I intended to see.  Greenstreet’s and Fitzgerald’s plot threads are interesting as well, and the way all of them come together and resolve at the end is satisfying.  It’s a quirky film with a very good script, quite fulfilling.  Rating: Very Good


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