For Reel

The Devil’s Mask (1946)
July 16, 2017, 11:06 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Henry Levin
2.5 Stars
The Devil's Mask.jpgThe second in a series of adaptations of the popular radio series “I Love a Mystery,” The Devil’s Mask moves with a pace just as quick as its predecessor, with a plot twist happening at least once per reel. As a narrative, it’s a bit of a mess, but director Henry Levin’s concerns with tone are more fully realized than in the previous effort (the ultimate realization of this atmospheric blend of horror and noir would happen in the largely unsuccessful final film). Just as in the prior film, this entry contrasts the familiar streets of a film noir with the exotic—the jungle artifacts collected in the workspace of a local taxidermist include everything from a live leopard to a glass case complete with shrunken heads (continue the series’ fixation with the theme of decapitation). The detectives played by Jim Bannon and Barton Yarborough are just as unmemorable as they were in the first film, with the peripheral characters taking most of the spotlight. This is worth watching for the hugely bizarre final act, with the reveal of the murderer’s identity leading to a hugely creative final standoff.

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