Three Strangers: Negulesco’s Film Noir, Written by Huston, Starring Sydney Greenstreet, Geraldine Fitzgerald, and Peter Lorre

Jean Negulesco directed the film noir, Three Strangers, written by John Huston and Howard Koch, starring Sydney Greenstreet, Geraldine Fitzgerald, and Peter Lorre.

Crystal Shackleford (Geraldine Fitzgerald) lures two strangers, solicitor Jerome K. Arbutny (Sydney Greenstreet) and erudite drunkard Johnny West (Peter Lorre) to her London flat on Chinese New Year in 1938. She believe 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.

The trio then go in on a sweepstakes ticket for the Grand National horse race, agreeing that they will not sell the ticket if chosen, but will hold on to it until the race is run.

Bette Davis and George Brent were originally set to be the leads. At one point, the story was considered for a sequel to “The Maltese Falcon,” and Humphrey Bogart, Sydney Greenstreet and Mary Astor were to star. But director Jean Negulesco was a fan of Lorre’s and fought hard to give him the role.

Huston wrote the script with his friend Howard Koch, but when the film finally went into production, Huston was not available to direct it, as he was lieutenant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.

Sydney Greenstreet as Jerome K. Arbutny
Geraldine Fitzgerald as Crystal Shackleford
Peter Lorre as Johnny West
Joan Lorring as Icey Crane
Robert Shayne as Bertram Fallon
Marjorie Riordan as Janet Elliot
Arthur Shields as Prosecutor
Rosalind Ivan as Lady Rhea Beladon
John Alvin as Junior Clerk
Peter Whitney as Gabby
Alan Napier as David Shackleford
Clifford Brooke as Senior Clerk
Doris Lloyd as Mrs. Proctor