Great cast in a good movie. The screenplay is by John Huston and Howard Koch. There are some unusual touches in this story of three strangers and a sweepstakes ticket and the events in their lives. If you’re looking for something a little different, check this one out.
London 1938. Crystal Shackelford (Geraldine Fitzgerald) brings two strangers up to her hotel room. They are John West (Peter Lorre) and Jerome K.Arbutny (Sydney Greenstreet). Crystal believes in the superstition of the Chinese goddess Kwan Yin. It’s said that at the midnight hour the bronze statue will open its eyes and grant three strangers whatever they wish for.
West has all of them invest in the sweepstakes ticket he bought on the Grand National horse race. The agreement is that if their horse is selected they won’t sell the ticket. It’s midnight. A wind blows out the candles and they don’t know if the statue opened its eyes. Crystal says it did. John and Jerome leave.
Coming up the stairs is David Shakelford (Alan Napier). Crystal thought he was away in Canada. He came back to tell her he’s up for a great new job and he had a great new woman to go with it. She refuses to give him a divorce.
West is in his favorite pub getting wasted. Icey Crane (Joan Lorring) brings him back to a room where Gabby is waiting. The three were involved in a robbery where a watchman was killed by Bertram Fallon (Robert Shayne trying to pull off a Cockney accent).
The landlady sees an article in the paper with Fallon’s picture and a headline that mentions two men who were in on it with him. She goes to collect a lot more rent than originally agreed upon. West pays her and then West and Gabby sneak out and hide in an abandoned building. Icey says she’s arranged for a car so they can get away.
Jerome is a solicitor who is handling a trust fund for the eccentric Lady Rhea Beladon. She thinks the spirit of her dead husband talks to her. Jerome uses money from her trust to invest in stock.
At Fallon’s trial things aren’t going well and Icey is charged with perjury and another witness is a disaster. Fallon changes his plea to guilty and turn’s King’s evidence and implicates West and Gabby as the two in on it with him. The agreement is he won’t be hanged. West is picked up and put in jail. He was brought into the robbery when he was picked up in the pub drunk and used for cover.
Crystal is out for revenge and goes to David’s boss and tells him about his new woman. She makes nice with David in her hotel room. When he doesn’t agree to drop the woman she stabs his hand. He starts to strangle her, thinks better of it and leaves. Crystal’s not done yet. She has a detective follow David and find out the name of the other woman. She confronts her in her room and lies by saying David is coming back to her because she’s pregnant.
Looks like Jerome’s in real hot water as a stock tanks and the trust fund is just about gone. He comes up with a plan. Lady Beldon isn’t as batty as he thinks and shows up with an examiner to go over the books.
The rest of the movie follows their stories and all are interesting in how they turn out. This is one to look for.
Robert Shayne appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows and is probably best known as Inspector Henderson in “The Adventures Of Superman” (1952-58).
Alan Napier was a movie staple in Britain and America. One of his most famous roles was Alfred the Butler in TV’s camp version of “Batman” (1966-68).