Skip to content

Erich von Stroheim X2 … The Great Flamarion (1945) and The Mask of Diijan (1946)

Far removed from his days commanding sets and cameras and a few short years prior to his most recognized role as an actor, “The Man You Love to Hate” was turning out “B” films for the poverty row crowd. For my money, one a gem and the other just another “B”.

GreatFlamarion

Right from the opening credits of Flamarion, you know this might be worth a look when you see the title card reading, Directed by Anthony Mann. The Great Flamarion as played by Erich is a trick shooting vaudeville act. He never misses what he’s aiming at. This Noir like tale is told in flashback after a woman is killed backstage at a vaudeville show and Erich, clad in black makes his way seemingly wounded to the rafters where he hides himself among the ropes, ladders and pulleys.

Backtracking the narrative, we’ll find the stern task master Erich running his trick shooting show with a married couple played by Mary Beth Hughes and Dan Duryea. Duryea’s participation should immediately raise one’s interest in checking out this early Mann flick.

duryea in flamarion

“You’re a bad habit I can’t cure.” Duryea tells his wife through the haze of alcohol that he continues to abuse himself with. His wife Hughes has much on her mind and is plotting like any bad girl of Noir to rid herself of him. She’ll turn to Erich for assistance in her devious plans. Erich may be the stern character here that we all expect him to be but behind the hard exterior is a lonely man who is ripe for the attentions of Hughes. She’ll plant the seed that to be together and rid of Duryea, he might miss his bullet’s mark leaving her a widow.

It’s a trap that he’s going to fall into and when he’s exonerated, Hughes suggests they stay apart for a few months and she can rejoin him at a later date. Off she goes into the night a free woman and with the roll of cash he hands her to tide her over till their blessed reunion. Did I mention she might have been interested in the young man in the bicycle act that opens the show?

The_Great_Flamarion_(1945)_1

As one might expect, this is an expertly directed “B” from the early days of Mann’s career with shadows and angles utilized for a top notch black and white low budget effort. It’s Erich’s picture all the way and while the first thirty minutes played up to his cold hearted image, he quickly captures our sympathies when he shows his inner warmth and need for affection. By the film’s end when he’s a broken man we’re pretty much cheering him on as we know the outcome based on the opening scenes of the film.

Erich may be a killer, but in Noir terms, he’s just in his cause.

mask_of_diijon

The Mask of Diijon clocking in at 72 minutes casts our leading man as a mysterious illusionist who has retreated from the public eye to dabble in hypnotism. From the outset when his wife Jeanne Bates takes Erich to see a new trick created by Edward (Van Helsing) Van Sloan, Erich spurns the idea of a comeback to the stage. His arrogance and disdain for the whole idea leaves his wife feeling cold and alone. In essence he’s retreated into himself and with little prospects, he and Jeanne are going broke with no money to their name and bills piling up.

mask of diijan1

With Erich withdrawing from society, his wife will find an interested suitor in William Wright and soon after leaves Erich. This will trigger an evil side to him and when by chance he realizes he’s mastered the art of hypnotism by foiling an armed robbery, he tests his power on another guest at the boarding house where he rooms. This leads to his first murder made to look like a suicide.

In the end, an imbalanced Erich wants his wife and her supposed lover out of the way which will lead to the fade out where our bald headed villain will pay for his evil transgressions.

mask of diijan3

Lew Landers directed this low budget production from Western Television. Landers was a long time B film specialist giving us The Return of the Vampire, Boston Blackie titles and the popular thirties terror, The Raven with Boris and Bela. Speaking of Boris and Bela, this role of Diijan seems to be right in their wheel house. I am quite confident that if they had played the hypnotist, this black and white special would have a far greater following.

Long time character player George Chandler who’s face is one most classic fans will recognize from his numerous roles in film and television makes an appearance as well. Here he is cast as the diner’s cook where Erich foils the robbery to Chandler’s amazement.

George Chandler, circa 1953

While this title might not be up to the thrills of The Great Flamarion, it makes a suitable double feature allowing us to get a look at Erich von Stroheim through the lean years leading up to his role as Max in one of cinema’s greatest films, Sunset Boulevard.

1 Comment »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

"DESTROY ALL FANBOYS!"

Smashing System Bias Since 1972...

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

"DESTROY ALL FANBOYS!"

Smashing System Bias Since 1972...

Movies ala Mark

With a Cast of Thousands

Classic Horrors

From silent screen to Halloween, and everything scary in between.

Just Hit Play

The Good, the Bad and sometimes Ugly in film

Strother Martin Film Project

What we've got here is failure to communicate

Sophia Riley Kobacker

it's all about the story, possums...

Wolfmans Cult Film Club

Cult, B-Movies, cheesy fun films to Film Noir to classics new to me.

Talking Pulp

All things pulp and then some

cinema cities

a personal odyssey through film

Mark David Welsh

Watching the strangest movies - so you don't have to...

Scenes from the Morgue

The Lost Art of Pulp Ads: Film, Booze, Smokes & More!

Film Speech

All things film and television

Diary of A Movie Maniac

A Personal Journey Through Cinema & Television

portraitsbyjenni

My perspective on life & Classic Movie Recommendations

Statis Pro 1978 Replay

Methodically replaying every game of the 1978 baseball season!

4 Star Films

Looking deeper at the best classic movies

everythingnoir

Movies, Television, Books....Everything Noir

Chaplin-Keaton-Lloyd film locations (and more)

by John Bengtson "the great detective of silent film locations" New York Times

Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

Silent-ology

Uncovering the silent era

Canadian Cinephile

"The only way to get rid of my fears is to make films about them." - Alfred Hitchcock

Noirish

The annex to John Grant's *A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir*

Cinema Monolith

Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.

Sunset Boulevard

Writings of a Cinephile

The Bogie Film Blog

A Film by Film Affair with Humphrey Bogart

Vienna's Classic Hollywood

Vintage Hollywood films and stars

The Film Authority

You're ten seconds from watching an amazing film...

Once upon a screen...

...a classic film and TV blog

shadowsandsatin

. . where the worlds of film noir and pre-code collide . .

hitchcockmaster

Where Suspense Lives!

Tipping My Fedora

Enjoying mystery, crime and suspense in all media

Silver Screenings

Ruth's Old Movie Reviews

monsterminions

They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To

Comet Over Hollywood

Home for classic movie lovers

filmgeek101

classic movie views for the classic and not-so-classic movie fan

Riding the High Country

Reviews and ramblings

Speakeasy

movies galore

%d bloggers like this: