Mystery writer Cornelius Leyden becomes intrigued when the murdered body of a vicious career criminal washes up in the Bosphorus. —IMDb
Jean Negulseco ran away to Vienna, Austria in 1915, and by 1919 had established himself as a painter in Bucharest, Romania. He later worked as a stage decorator in Paris. He came to New York for an exhibition of his paintings in 1927 and stayed. He entered the movie industry in 1934 as an assistant producer and later became a second unit director on pictures such as Captain Blood and A Farewell To Arms. He spent much of the middle and late 1930s as an associate director and screenwriter (including the original story for the Laurel and Hardy musical comedy Swiss Miss). He made two-reel shorts at Warner Bros., and was given his abortive feature directorial debut in 1941’s Singapore Woman, from which he was removed but retained credit as director. In the early days of 1942, he took over direction (including the denouement) of Across The Pacific from John Huston when Huston was called up for military service. The Mask of Dimetrios (1944) was Negulesco’s formal debut, and proved successful… read more
Decently entertaining old-fashioned mystery headlining the inimitable screen presences of Peter Lorre (in a rare, likable "good guy" role) and Sydney Greenstreet. It's got some nice atmosphere and an amiable sense of humor, even if it is a bit too genteel for its own good at times. Only a minor classic, but it is fun to see iconic character actors putting their unique spin on leading-man territory.
Of course flashbacks aren't unique to either film (film noir is full of them), but the way in which the clueless protagonist (Peter Lorre in Mask; Robert Arden in Arkadin) globe-trots in order to recover stories about the mystery man in question (Dimitrios and Arkadin, respectively) presents, at times, very clear parallels between the two films.
Interesting for how it recalls (predicts?) so many setups used by Orson Welles: The Colonel in Mask is an easy analog for Welles' character in Journey into Fear; the notion of a roguish underworld mystery man has Third Man written all over it; and both Mask and at least one version of Confidential Report (Mr. Arkadin) open with a dead body on a beach, not to mention the elaborate flashback structure both employ.