Sunday, September 18, 2011

The...Blogpost Behind the Mask...Or Something...

I said I'd post today, and I am! I am totally amazing!

(I wrote that two days ago. I thought the irony of it was amusing)

Unfortunately being punctual usually means I have little time with which to write with, hence the unusually low amount of witticisms and serious nature in that last post and, probably, this one too. I read about this movie in research for my "I've got a lot of money to blow" list that I was making, looking for some obscure but interesting 30's films to make my collection look... interesting. Peter Lorre was one of the actors I've seen a lot of material from, so I thought I'd see if this one was the public domain before I bought it off of Ebay for a couple of cents. I don't know about the public domain, but I found it anyway, and watched it the dark. Thank you Peter Lorre, that was possibly the most depressing hour and a half of my life. But since I think that's what they were going for I can't necessarily call this a crummy movie. But let's try and give this one a thorough analysis:

My initial reaction was "corny", but I'm not quite sure that adds up like you'd think it would at first. It advertises like a B-grade horror flick, as the poster clearly condones, but it isn't quite; it's's like...that part in the national geographic documentary when it's talking about snake's eating habits and it shows a cute little mouse chewing something and then the scary music starts playing and your thinking "Oh man, I so don't want to see this" and that uncontrollable desire to flip ahead comes over you. It's like an examination of the viciousness of Murphy's law, or what happens when you get a really terrible fortune cookie. In other words, you take a completely innocent guy (Peter Lorre, if you can believe that) and make things get as bad as possible for him. What's more, make you guy a chubby happy Hungarian immigrant and have him run around the first half of the movie being big-hearted and optimistic about everything, and you've got yourself a 30's depression fest no one can laugh about. Except me.

THE PLOT: Peter Lorre plays the happy chubby etc. immigrant I mentioned, Janos Szaby, a watchmaker who comes to New York City with the unquestionably good intentions of making enough money to move his sweetheart over and start a watch shop. I'm completely serious. He then befriends a cop who directs him to a hotel in which there is a completely unrelated subplot about a no-cooking in the rooms rule (?). The hotel burns down and Janos' face is horribly mutilated in the fire. And from that point on it just gets better and better! He can't find work, he tells his girlfriend he's in love with someone else, he tries to commit suicide...then as if the movie wasn't cruel enough he is rescued by a man named Dinky of all things...gets involved with gangsters who don't even have funny accents, meets a pretty blind girl (figuahs, don't it) falls in love, quits gang, gang kills blind girl, flies gang out to the middle of the desert in a revengeful spree and they all die, alone and afraid. Yessir. I couldn't have thought up something worse than that if tried for weeks. The most disgusting part about it (aside from the obvious "Gee I wish I'd never started watching that" feeling it gives you) is it's predictability. The Murphy's law gone wild formula is pretty easy to follow: whatever horrible, life altering tragedy can happen is gonna happen to this guy.

So on to the fun part:

1. There figures prominently a man named Dinky who does not die a horrible fiery death like most of the other characters.

2. The main character has an awesome name. This is bad because it is a bad movie and at some point I'm going to have to tell my adorable little boy that that is where I first heard that name, and he will be angry with me. Thank you Peter Lorre for messing up my relationship with my son!

3. The woman reminds me of that nature-girl from "Open Season", only she's not actually supposed to be annoying which makes it twice as bad.

4. We see Dinky without a shirt on. No joke.

5. By the time your finished with this movie And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie will read like Pippi Long-stockings. And I don't mean the dubbed Swedish film version either.

THE ULTIMATE BAD POINT: This movie is a bleak "life sucks" drama that tries way to hard to be poetic film noir. And it makes you feel bad for a character that Peter Lorre plays. That oughtta tell you something is off.

1. The universe managed to make Peter Lorre say "Dinky." That made me snicker once or twice.

2. If your one of those sick people that likes to see cheesy characters die this is a very satisfying film. That's a sick good point but I'm scrounging here.

3. If you hate Hungary, watchmakers, little schnauzer dogs, people who love listening to the radio, hotels, or men named "Jeff" this is the movie for you.

THE ULTIMATE GOOD POINT: There isn't one. If you went through this movie like I did waiting for something good to happen your in for bitter disappointment brother.

So that's it. I'm not being vindictive, just telling it like it is. This is a movie that would have worked way better with S.Z. Sakall rather than Peter Lorre (aw! I take that back. That would suck even worse) as a believable good guy. In fact, it would have worked way better as a soap opera. That was never made.

Peter Lorre really does not appear to be enjoying himself here. Maybe I'm wrong. It just seems like when he's hopping up and down like Chico Marx at the piano, in Groucho glasses and a mustache, singing his heart out to "Ja, Die Polizie" or playing a crazy spy named colonal Gimpy (a strange, strange movie called Crack Up from 1936) he looks happier than when he's surveying his crushed hopes and dreams for the future. Let me illustrate:

Happy Peter Lorre:

Sad Peter Lorre:

Happy Peter Lorre:

Sad Peter Lorre:

Happy Peter Lorre:

Oh wait...I got mixed up. So long folks!

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