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Three Strangers (1946)

aka Three Strangers

Directed By: 
Details: 92 mins · English


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Small Jerome K. Arbutny
Small Crystal Shackleford
Small Johnny West
Small Icey Crane
Small Bertram Fallon
Small Janet Elliott
Small Prosecutor
No_movie_poster Lady Rhea Beladon
No_movie_poster Junior Clerk
Small Timothy Delaney aka Gabby
Small David Shackleford
No_movie_poster Senior Clerk
No_movie_poster Mrs. Proctor


No_movie_poster Arthur Edeson Director of Photography
No_movie_poster Jack L. Warner Executive Producer
No_movie_poster Adolph Deutsch Music
No_movie_poster Howard Koch Screenplay
Small John Huston Screenplay
No_movie_poster George Amy Editor
Small Jean Negulesco Director
No_movie_poster Wolfgang Reinhardt Producer
No_movie_poster George Amy Editing


Crystal Shackelford (Geraldine Fitzgerald) lures two strangers, solicitor Jerome K. Arbutny (Sydney Greenstreet) and charming and erudite drunkard Johnny West (Peter Lorre) to her London flat on Chinese New Year in 1938 because of her belief that if three strangers make the same wish to an idol of Kwan Yin, Chinese goddess of fortune and destiny, the wish will be granted. Since money will make their dreams come true, the three go in on a sweepstakes ticket for the Grand National horse race together and agree that they will not sell the ticket if it is chosen, but will hold onto it until the race is run. Shackelford would use the money to try to win her estranged husband back, Arbutny to smooth the way for his selection to the prestigious Barrister's Club, and Johnny to buy a bar and live in it.

The stories of the three strangers are revealed. Shackelford's husband David (Alan Napier) moved to Canada and fell in love with Janet Elliot (Marjorie Riordan). He returns, just after Johnny and Arbutny take their leave of Crystal, and demands a divorce, but she refuses. She sees to it that he loses a promotion. She also lies to Janet, telling her that David still loves her and that she is pregnant. The trusting woman believes her and returns to Canada.

With the help of an adoring Icey Crane (Joan Lorring), Johnny has been hiding out after his drunken participation in a botched robbery that resulted in the death of a policeman. Icey commits perjury in order to provide an alibi for the murderer and ringleader, Bertram Fallon (Robert Shayne). When a second witness is discredited, Fallon confesses to the robbery but blames the murder on West and the third man involved, Gabby (Peter Whitney). Johnny is caught and sentenced to death, but Gabby finds Fallon on his way to prison and stabs him. As he dies in the railway carriage, Fallon clears Johnny.

Arbutny has been speculating in stocks with money from the trust fund of Lady Rhea Belladon (Rosalind Ivan), an eccentric widow who believe she can talk with her dead husband. When the stock falls and his margin is called, a desperate Arbutny proposes to Lady Belladon. After consulting with her dead husband, she turns him down. Worse, she says that Lord Belladon wants to have the books checked. Arbutny is about to shoot himself when he sees in a newspaper that the sweepstakes ticket has drawn the favorite in the Grand National.

The three strangers converge on Crystal's flat. Arbutny wants to sell his share of the ticket immediately so he can replace the funds he stole before his crime can be uncovered. Johnny is willing, but Shackelford is adamant that they stick to their original agreement. Arbutny becomes enraged and kills her with her statue of Kwan Yin. Ironically, they hear on the radio that their horse wins. Johnny points out to Arbutny that the winning ticket has to be destroyed because their agreement and signatures on it would provide a motive for Crystal's murder. They leave the flat, but Arbutny is overcome by guilt, and panics and runs out into the middle of the busy street. He stops traffic and attracts a crowd, including a policeman, to whom Arbutny confesses the murder.

Johnny returns to the pub, where Icey finds him. Content with her, he sets the ticket on fire.

Release Dates:

Theatrical : 1946-01-28 : United States of America

Theatrical : 1946-10-24 : Sweden

Theatrical : 1947-01-24 : Finland

Television : 1963-10-07 : Denmark

Television : 1983-07-23 : West Germany