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Directory and file permissions

My google foo seems to have deserted me completely.  Could someone take 
pity? :-(

Is it possible for a directory to have lower permissions than the files it 
contains?  And could those who have permissions for the files, but not the 
directory, gain access to the files?

My instinct says no.  But it would not be for the first time if my instinct is 

Thanks for any help anyone feels able to give,

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