The Man without a Face

The Man without a Face ★★★½

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Bates

The wonderful nexus in time where Freudian psychology, Surrealist art, and film noir co-existed birthed this Mexican b-movie about a repressed mama's-boy detective who, like Agent Cooper in Twin Peaks, is on a dream-fueled hunt for a serial killer. The multiple, repetitive conversations about repressed sexual feelings and dream symbolism may have been bold, adult stuff in 1950, but by contemporary standards it verges on parody and cliche. Still, it beats Pyscho to similar turf by nearly a decade, and the dream sequences are truly inspired. Set on a minimalist sound stage with forced perspective, warped lines, expressionistic trees and lamp posts, and fog, and inhabited by the titular "man without a face," as classic a pulp villain image as ever existed with his trench coat, fedora, and cloth mask visage.