A flawed film noir from 1944 that nonetheless has its sublime moments. “The Mask of Dimitrios” is the rather exciting story of an arch-criminal responsible for murder, blackmail, smuggling and an attempted assassination in the Balkans.
The stars of the film are two well known contract players at Warner Brothers: Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet. Yes, the two character actors that gave “Casablanca” and “The Maltese Falcon” much of its mysterious atmosphere and charm. To see Lorre and Greenstreet play so well off each other in substantial roles in “Dimitrios” is alone enough to make the film memorable to mystery fans.
Lorre handles the lead as a mystery writer on the trail of the notorious criminal, Dimitrios (Zachary Scott). Greenstreet is a former smuggling colleague of Dimitrios willing to help Cornelius Leyden (Lorre) fill in some of the details. Leyden criss crosses Europe to interview people who knew Dimitrios, after the criminal’s body washes ashore near Istanbul.
Despite some excellent atmospherics with the use of exotic locations, the story suffers from its dependence on flashbacks. But, when Lorre and Greenstreet finally get some quality screen time together, the film gets top notch. These two actors have a wonderful synergy. Their scenes together are not only rewarding. They fill you with nostalgia.
“The Mask of Dimitrios” may get bogged down with its storytelling structure, but don’t let that keep you from enjoying yet another amazing encounter between Greenstreet and Lorre. Grade: B
Format: DVD (Made-to-order)
Runtime: 95 minutes
Original Release Date: June 23, 1944
Released by Warnerarchive.com