The Mask Of Diijon

  • 1946
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Erich von Stroheim was one of the most gifted directors in the early days of movies, but after spending more money than anyone in his quest for authenticity, he could not get any directorial assignments, and so he earned what little living he could as an actor. He was an imposing performer, solid, stolid, with a "presence" that jumped off the screen even...read more

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Erich von Stroheim was one of the most gifted directors in the early days of movies, but after spending more money than anyone in his quest for authenticity, he could not get any directorial assignments, and so he earned what little living he could as an actor. He was an imposing

performer, solid, stolid, with a "presence" that jumped off the screen even in the most minor films, such as this. He's a mad magician who lives in a sleazy boarding house that caters to acts who can only aspire to be third-rate. Bates is married to him and works as his assistant. Wright is a

pianist who adores Bates, although he won't let that be known. Van Sloan owns a magic store, and he and Bates have concocted an interesting guillotine act which they show to von Stroheim. He disdains it, saying that he is about to try hypnosis. Wright and Bates have been "friends" long before she

married von Stroheim, and he's come back to the boarding house run by Landin. The couple have no money, so they take a job at Filauri's tacky nightclub, but von Stroheim, who is out of practice, goofs, so his wife falls when he attempts to place her, rigid, between two chairs. Von Stroheim blames

Wright, but he's already angry and jealous, wrongly believing that Bates and Wright are having an affair. After practicing his hypnosis, von Stroheim tests out his theories by making Hugo, a dancer, kill himself. Bates gets a job singing at the club, and von Stroheim hypnotizes her into killing

Wright, which she almost does while singing a song to his accompaniment. Fortunately, she's used the wrong gun, so the several shots she fires at Wright are blanks. Cops trap von Stroheim in Van Sloan's cellar magic store, toss a few tear gas cannisters in, and the bald Teuton trips and is

decapitated by the trick guillotine. Except for von Stroheim, the acting was barely adequate. Anyone familiar with von Stroheim's directorial work (and the films of Lew Landers, who specialized in these Poverty Row pictures) will recognize his touch in several of the scenes--an attempt to elevate

a somber story into something with style. Vernac was von Stroheim's longtime live-in lover during his waning years, and he, no doubt, used some influence to get her the job of Hugo's wife.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Erich von Stroheim was one of the most gifted directors in the early days of movies, but after spending more money than anyone in his quest for authenticity, he could not get any directorial assignments, and so he earned what little living he could as an a… (more)

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