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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Flesh And Fantasy (1943)

Three stories of the supernatural: a homely and bitter girl (Betty Field) dons a mask at Mardi Gras and flirts with a handsome but troubled man (Robert Cummings), a palm reader (Thomas Mitchell) tells a wealthy lawyer (Edward G. Robinson) that he will commit a murder, a tightrope walker (Charles Boyer) dreams of falling from his tightrope while a beautiful woman (Barbara Stanwyck) screams. Produced by Boyer and directed by Julian Duvivier, the only story which has any resonance is the second one. The other two are rather trite, even the star power of Boyer and Stanwyck can't save the dull third tale and the first suffers because of the dubious notion that anyone would pine for Robert Cummings. But the middle one, based on a short story by Oscar Wilde, is a winner. Robinson gives a solid performance of a man slowly unraveling out of fear of what he might do and Duvivier provides the requisite atmosphere that nurtures the tale along. The three stories are (weakly) framed together by a sequence with Robert Benchley which the film could have done without. There's a solid score by Alexander Tansman. With Peter Lawford, Anna Lee, Gene Lockhart, C. Aubrey Smith, Marjorie Lord and Dame May Whitty.

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