Three Strangers Reviews

  • Jul 12, 2018

    Completely implausible throughout, and ammeter performances from both Greenstreet and Lorre!

    Completely implausible throughout, and ammeter performances from both Greenstreet and Lorre!

  • Jun 10, 2018

    Possibly Peter Lorre's best role. Greenstreat brilliant as always. Excellent, underrated film noir.

    Possibly Peter Lorre's best role. Greenstreat brilliant as always. Excellent, underrated film noir.

  • Jun 03, 2018

    Terrific film, with outstanding performances by Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. A classic.

    Terrific film, with outstanding performances by Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. A classic.

  • Aug 09, 2016

    Interesting Lorre/Greenstreet/Huston film Long out of circulation, this 1946 vehicle by veteran Hollywood director Jean Negulesco (who had directed Lorre and Greenstreet previously in The Mask of Demetrios and would go on to make Daddy Long Legs, Three Coins in the Fountain, and How to Marry a Millionaire) was finally released on Region 1 DVD in 2012. The film has an interesting history. The original was intended to be a sequel to John Huston's The Maltese Falcon, using a screenplay Huston had written but hadn't gotten produced, with Greenstreet and Lorre reprising their roles as Casper Gutman and Joel Cairo in a new adventure, this time centered around a mysterious Chinese idol rather than a bird statuette. But it turned out that Warner's didn't have and couldn't get permission to re-use the same character names, so the project was turned into a film with no reference to The Maltese Falcon, still using Huston's screenplay. The result, the story of three strangers in 1938 London who pray to the idol for luck, and how the answer to their prayer affects their interweaving relationships, is something of a neglected classic, with Greenstreet and Lorre doing some of their best acting, and Huston's unusual and fascinating screenplay foreshadowing the theme of how greed affects human relationships which was to feature in many of Huston's own subsequent films like The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Beat the Devil, and The Asphalt Jungle. Recommended with four stars as an entertaining and interesting piece of cinema which deserves to be better known; if you are a real fan of Lorre or Greenstreet or a serious student of Huston's work, consider it a five star must see. The Warner Archive DVD print quality is very good.

    Interesting Lorre/Greenstreet/Huston film Long out of circulation, this 1946 vehicle by veteran Hollywood director Jean Negulesco (who had directed Lorre and Greenstreet previously in The Mask of Demetrios and would go on to make Daddy Long Legs, Three Coins in the Fountain, and How to Marry a Millionaire) was finally released on Region 1 DVD in 2012. The film has an interesting history. The original was intended to be a sequel to John Huston's The Maltese Falcon, using a screenplay Huston had written but hadn't gotten produced, with Greenstreet and Lorre reprising their roles as Casper Gutman and Joel Cairo in a new adventure, this time centered around a mysterious Chinese idol rather than a bird statuette. But it turned out that Warner's didn't have and couldn't get permission to re-use the same character names, so the project was turned into a film with no reference to The Maltese Falcon, still using Huston's screenplay. The result, the story of three strangers in 1938 London who pray to the idol for luck, and how the answer to their prayer affects their interweaving relationships, is something of a neglected classic, with Greenstreet and Lorre doing some of their best acting, and Huston's unusual and fascinating screenplay foreshadowing the theme of how greed affects human relationships which was to feature in many of Huston's own subsequent films like The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Beat the Devil, and The Asphalt Jungle. Recommended with four stars as an entertaining and interesting piece of cinema which deserves to be better known; if you are a real fan of Lorre or Greenstreet or a serious student of Huston's work, consider it a five star must see. The Warner Archive DVD print quality is very good.

  • Jun 20, 2015

    good noir pic from the first cycle.

    good noir pic from the first cycle.

  • Sep 21, 2014

    Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet are always worth a look. It's particularly enjoyable watching Lorre play against type as a sympathetic leading man. It's no masterpiece; the movie does not, by any means, maintain a commanding grip on the audience, but the trio of lead actors keep things lively and interesting while Lorre's character amiably and almost accidentally comes through relatively unscathed, and somewhat better off without getting the big payoff. Plus, there's a young Alan Napier (later Alfred on the Batman television show) as Geraldine Fitzgerald's unfortunate husband.

    Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet are always worth a look. It's particularly enjoyable watching Lorre play against type as a sympathetic leading man. It's no masterpiece; the movie does not, by any means, maintain a commanding grip on the audience, but the trio of lead actors keep things lively and interesting while Lorre's character amiably and almost accidentally comes through relatively unscathed, and somewhat better off without getting the big payoff. Plus, there's a young Alan Napier (later Alfred on the Batman television show) as Geraldine Fitzgerald's unfortunate husband.

  • Nov 27, 2013

    Interesting black comedy about greed in a movie rich with detail and atmosphere--One of the oddest and most fascinating movies of the 1940s!!

    Interesting black comedy about greed in a movie rich with detail and atmosphere--One of the oddest and most fascinating movies of the 1940s!!

  • May 09, 2010

    With its low-key black and white cinematography, hard-boiled characters of profound weakness and an almost cheerfully subversive story, Jean Negulesco's Three Strangers is undiluted nostalgia of an urbane and cunning variety. Never so far away from rationality that it is an altogether unique yet unmistakably theatrical parable, it makes a shadowy and alluring potboiler, reaching some moments of pure magnetism in a handful of its crucial sequences. The script by John Huston and his friend Howard Koch is masterful in structure. The film begins in the shadows and fog of the London streets as Geraldine Fitzgerald coaxes two strangers, Sydney Greenstreet's caricatured attorney Jerome K. Arbutney and Peter Lorre's charismatic and cultivated alcoholic Johnny West to her London pad on Chinese New Year at the hand of her doctrine that if three strangers make the same wish to an idol of the Chinese goddess of fortune and destiny, the wish will be fulfilled. Because money will make their dreams come true, the three gamble on a sweepstakes ticket for the Grand National horse race together and concur that they will not sell the ticket if it is selected, and will hold onto it until the race is run. Fitzgerald would use the money to attempt to win her alienated husband back, Arbutny to lay the groundwork for his appointment to the esteemed Barrister's Club, and Johnny to purchase a bar as his home. After this single, taut, spare and graceful expository dialogue scene, the plot strands of the three strangers are unraveled, demystifying who we began to believe they were in the initial scene. Greenstreet insatiably and uproariously overplays as Arbutney, who we learn has looted a trust fund. Lorre is seamlessly graceful as the drunk who becomes enmeshed in a murder of which he's not guilty, while Fitzgerald is astonishing as a manipulative and truly unpredictable woman, a femme fatale of the highest caliber. Undeservedly obscure and overlooked, Three Strangers is about the human desire to look to gods and idols to resolve our problems, only to be driven into worse new ones. Mostly owing to the performances and the cynical manipulation of the noir plot, the film resolves as kind of a black comedy. It is an admirable and deftly executed variation on the hopeless and acerbic atmosphere of the film noir. In noir, characters are corrupt fall guys of the universe, brimming with existential distress, just like us all. Why not find a chuckle or two in it?

    With its low-key black and white cinematography, hard-boiled characters of profound weakness and an almost cheerfully subversive story, Jean Negulesco's Three Strangers is undiluted nostalgia of an urbane and cunning variety. Never so far away from rationality that it is an altogether unique yet unmistakably theatrical parable, it makes a shadowy and alluring potboiler, reaching some moments of pure magnetism in a handful of its crucial sequences. The script by John Huston and his friend Howard Koch is masterful in structure. The film begins in the shadows and fog of the London streets as Geraldine Fitzgerald coaxes two strangers, Sydney Greenstreet's caricatured attorney Jerome K. Arbutney and Peter Lorre's charismatic and cultivated alcoholic Johnny West to her London pad on Chinese New Year at the hand of her doctrine that if three strangers make the same wish to an idol of the Chinese goddess of fortune and destiny, the wish will be fulfilled. Because money will make their dreams come true, the three gamble on a sweepstakes ticket for the Grand National horse race together and concur that they will not sell the ticket if it is selected, and will hold onto it until the race is run. Fitzgerald would use the money to attempt to win her alienated husband back, Arbutny to lay the groundwork for his appointment to the esteemed Barrister's Club, and Johnny to purchase a bar as his home. After this single, taut, spare and graceful expository dialogue scene, the plot strands of the three strangers are unraveled, demystifying who we began to believe they were in the initial scene. Greenstreet insatiably and uproariously overplays as Arbutney, who we learn has looted a trust fund. Lorre is seamlessly graceful as the drunk who becomes enmeshed in a murder of which he's not guilty, while Fitzgerald is astonishing as a manipulative and truly unpredictable woman, a femme fatale of the highest caliber. Undeservedly obscure and overlooked, Three Strangers is about the human desire to look to gods and idols to resolve our problems, only to be driven into worse new ones. Mostly owing to the performances and the cynical manipulation of the noir plot, the film resolves as kind of a black comedy. It is an admirable and deftly executed variation on the hopeless and acerbic atmosphere of the film noir. In noir, characters are corrupt fall guys of the universe, brimming with existential distress, just like us all. Why not find a chuckle or two in it?

  • Jan 16, 2009

    good stuff great cast dark and moody I liked it

    good stuff great cast dark and moody I liked it

  • Aug 11, 2008

    not phenomenal, interesting how the screenplay was co written by JOHN HUSTON, interesting film overall, ending with its heavily ironic statement sorta reminded me of like an extended episode of ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS or THE TWILIGHT ZONE, i liked it overall

    not phenomenal, interesting how the screenplay was co written by JOHN HUSTON, interesting film overall, ending with its heavily ironic statement sorta reminded me of like an extended episode of ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS or THE TWILIGHT ZONE, i liked it overall