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Hammer Film Noir Double Feature, Vol. 2 - Stolen Face / Blackout [Import]

Paul Henreid , Lizabeth Scott , Terence Fisher    NR (Not Rated)   DVD

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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Clark...Lee...Henreid...Scott...Fisher ~ Hammer & VCI Film Noir Vol. 2 (1950's)" Aug. 26 2006
By J. Lovins - Published on Amazon.com
VCI Entertainment and Kit Parker Films present "Hammer Film Noir Vol. 2" (1952) --- (Dolby digitally remastered)...Film noir has sources not only in cinema but other artistic mediums as well...the low-key lighting schemes commonly linked with the classic mode are in the tradition of chiaroscuro and tenebrism, techniques using high contrasts of light and dark developed by 15th- and 16th-century painters associated with Mannerism and the Baroque...film noir's aesthetics are deeply influenced by German Expressionism, a cinematic movement of the 1910s and 1920s closely related to contemporaneous developments in theater, photography, painting, scultpture, and architecture...opportunities offered by the booming Hollywood film industry and, later, the threat of growing Nazi power led to the emigration of many important film artists working in Germany who had either been directly involved in the Expressionist movement or studied with its practitioners...Directors such as Fritz Lang, Robert Siodmak, and Michael Curtiz brought dramatic lighting techniques and a psychologically expressive approach to mise-en-scène with them to Hollywood, where they would make some of the most famous of classic noirs. Lang's 1931 masterwork, the German M, is among the first major crime films of the sound era to join a characteristically noirish visual style with a noir-type plot, one in which the protagonist is a criminal (as are his most successful pursuers). M was also the occasion for the first star performance by Peter Lorre, who would go on to act in several formative American noirs of the classic era.

First up we have "BLACKOUT" (1954) (87 min. B/W)...under director Terence Fisher, producer Michael Carreras, screenplay by Richard H. Landau, novel by Helen Nielson, Cinematographer Jimmy W. Harvey, music score by Ivor Slaney ...the cast includes Dane Clark (Casey Morrow). Belinda Lee (Phyllis Brunner), Betty Ann Davies (Alicia Brunner), Eleanor Summerfield (Maggie Doone), Andrew Osborn (Lance Gorden), Harold Lang (Travis), Jill Melford (Miss Nardis), Michael Golden (Inspector Johnson), Alfie Bass (Ernie) . . . . . our story has an exceptional cast, with one of my favorite film noir actors Dane Clark, who can get into more trouble in only a few reels of this flick...in this better than average "Brit Noir" our drifter Clark is up to his neck with a frame up, murder suspect, mind games, plus he needs to clear his name in this psychological thriller "Murder by Proxy" was the British title..the beautiful blonde Belinda Lee is throwing 500 pounds around and Clark is the pigeon...where did the blood on his coat come from, and who has been murdered, will he be left holding the bag...don't leave the theatre you're about to find out who's who in this classic film noir plot.

BIOS:

1. Dane Clark (aka: Bernard Zanville)

Date of birth: 26 February 1912 - Brooklyn, New York, USA

Date of death: 11 September 1998 - Santa Monica, California

2. Belinda Lee

Date of birth: 15 June 1935 - Budleigh Salterton, Devon, England, UK

Date of death: 12 March 1961 - near San Bernardino, California

3. Terence Fisher (Director)

Date of birth: 23 February 1904 - London, England, UK

Date of death: 18 June 1980 - Twickenham, London, England, UK

BONUS FEATURES:

1. Scene selection

2. Trailers

3. Photo gallery

4. Bonus comments: The World of Hammer Noir by Richard M. Roberts

Second on the double bill is a Lippert Picture release "STOLEN FACE" (1952) (72 min. B/W)....under director Terence Fisher, producer Anthony Hinds, screenplay by Martin Berkeley and Richard Landau, Walter Harvey (Cinematographer), musical score by Malcolm Arnold ....the cast includesPaul Henreid (Dr. Philip Ritter), Lizabeth Scott (Alice Brent/Lilly), Andre Morell (David), Mary Mackenzie (Lilly), John Wood (Dr. Jack Wilson), Susan Stephen (Betty), Arnold Ridley (Dr. Russell), Everley Gregg (Lady Harringay), Cyril Smith (Alf), Janet Burnell (Maggie), Grace Gavin (Nurse), Diana Beaumont (May), Alexis France (Mrs. Emmett), John Bull (Charles Emmett), Dorothy Bramhall (Miss Simpson), Richard Wattis (Wentworth) . . . . . our story has heroine Lizabeth Scott is playing a dual role, the good, the bad and the ugly...Paul Henreid is believable as the plstic surgeon who can't seem to do anything right, professionally or with his love life...can a different face change a person, or will trouble surface and begin to eat away at the players of this "Film Noir"...is love or murder in the future of the Hammer film crew...don't take another step, as you're eyes are about to be opened and the mystery right in front of your nose... . . .there's a great deal of entertainment here for all the film noir fans out there...all courtesy of VCI Entertainment, who in my humble opinion is the best there is in restoring early serials and features like this one.

BIOS:

1. Paul Henreid (aka: Paul Georg Julius Hernreid Ritter Von Wassel-Waldingau)

Date of birth: 10 January 1908 - Trieste, Austria-Hungary. [now in Italy]

Date of death: 29 March 1992 - Santa Monica, California

2. Lizabeth Scott (aka: Emma Matzo)

Date of birth: 29 September 1922 - Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA

Date of death: Still Living

Great job by VCI Entertainment and Kit Parker Films for releasing the "Hammer Film Noir Vol. 2" (1952), digital transfere with a clean, clear and crisp print...looking forward to more of the same from the '40s and '50s vintage...order your copy now from Amazon or VCI Entertainment, stay tuned once again with a top notch "Classic Film Noir" that only VCI Entertainment (King of the Serials) can deliver...just the way we like 'em!

Total Time: 159 mins on 2-DVD-Set ~ VCI Home Video KPF 552 ~ (7/25/2006)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome! Feb. 4 2013
By Marilyn Elliott Lewis - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Two really great noir flicks! I loved them both but Stolen Face was really outstanding. Paul Henreid is great in every movie I've ever seen him in and this was no exception.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beauty Is Only Skin Deep, Right Nov. 7 2011
By Alfred Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Love, as almost everybody knows from personal experience, will make you do crazy thing sometimes. It will drive a seemingly rational calm and thoughtful man or woman over edge every once in while. Make "evil" in the world without missing a beat. That, my friends, is the premise behind the film under review, Stolen Face, one of a long line of films that portray the bad results of fooling around with Mother Nature too much, and with getting fogged up in that love embrace.

A British doctor, a plastic surgeon, (played Paul Henreid last seen leading the anti-fascist resistance as Victor Lazlo in early World War II in the film Casablanca) in post-World War II London working apparently for the National Health Service, and working very hard and diligently, thank you, takes a little vacation to the wilds of coastal England. He winds up in an inn along the way, an inn which also is hosting a beautiful American pianist ready to go on a European tour (played by smoky-voiced Lizabeth Scott) with a cold. Well, naturally, Doc comes to the rescue, and as part of the "cure" they fall head over heels in love. However, Lizabeth is already "spoken for," leaving Doc very unhappy. So back to work he goes with a vengeance.

And that vengeance, as previously, entailed working on the faces of criminal types to give them a chance to change their ways (okay, Doc, if you say so). As part of that work he runs up against a disfigured dregs of the working-class young woman (okay, lumpenproletarian), Lily, whom he thinks that he can help by use of the surgeon's scalpel. After much ado he gives her a new beautiful face, a face that is strangely very, very, very similar to his lost love's. On top of that he goes off and marries her. But here is where things get dicey and the scriptwriter proves to be no Marxist or other believer in the ever upward rise of human progress. Lily, skin beautiful or not, goes back to her old ways "proving" that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Worst Lizabeth comes back; ready to get back into Doc's arms. Fortunately Lily, drunk as a skunk riding on the train with hubby Doc, falls out of the train door (or was she pushed) just as Lizabeth shows up. Very convenient, very convenient indeed although no one is looking to make a court case out of it. Yes I guess beauty is really only skin deep, but no question love can drive you screwy. No question.

********
There is a fall guy born every minute, especially fall guys who will jump through hoops when they are down on their luck. Especially when said hoops are held by foxy-looking young blonde dames (although they do not have to be blonde, okay). That is the premise that drives much of the film under review, Blackout. That boy meets girl story and the hard fact of life that the just rich, very rich, and super-rich are different, and in this case, very different from you and I.

Now here is the "skinny." Casey (played by Dane Clark) is a down and out American looking, well, looking for something in the post-World War II and he figures London is just as good a place as any to land. Naturally a down and out guy has to figure things out and what better place to do so than at a bar, a bar that just happens to have a fetching and rich blonde damsel in distress, Phyllis (played by Belinda Lee), looking to get married and willing to pay for that status for her own reasons. He accepts, although as fate would have it he winds up with a case of blackout (hence the title of the film) dumped in some doorway groggy for his efforts (and befriended by a very independent starving woman artist who lives on the other side of that door, who is only tangentially connected with the nefarious doings going on). And the chase is on. Why? Phyllis' rich, very rich, father has been murdered that very marriage night and guess who the prime suspect, the numero uno fall guy, is?

Needless to say, patsy or not, this calls for drastic action to recoup his honor (and to stay out of the slammer) by our boy Casey. But, as usual, everybody and their brother (or sister) has a motive, and an ax to grind including that fetching blonde who lured him in. Who to trust (or not trust) while evading the coppers in the black and white dreary streets and cooped-up apartments of 1950s London drives the plot. And what drives the main villain, by the way not the blonde beauty no way although she makes Casey think twice about it a couple of times, is the need to have plenty of dough. That is where that point about the rich being different, very different, comes in and you can watch the film to figure the why of that out.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars film noir Oct. 5 2013
By zachary - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Stolen Face with Paul Henreid was well worth the investment towards this dvd....Both movies were good but I really liked Stolen Face..
4.0 out of 5 stars There's More To Hammer Than Just Horror. July 25 2014
By Chip Kaufmann - Published on Amazon.com
Although famous the world over for their Gothic horror films, Hammer was always more than a one note studio. Before the Gothics, were some imaginative sci-fi films (THE 4 SIDED TRIANGLE, THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT) and concurrent with those were a series of then present day Noir films featuring American "stars" in the leads so they could be released in America. While not as dark as their American counterparts, they are well made, tightly scripted affairs with everyone from the British co-stars to the Americans giving it their all. A quick look at the credits shows some familiar names. Anthony Hinds, Jimmy Sangster, Michael Carreras, and in quite a few of the films, director Terence Fisher. While all the films in this series are worthwhile especially if a) you're a Hammer fan, b) you're an Anglophile, c) you enjoy a Noir setting or d) all of the above, the two films coupled here are outstanding examples of what Hammer was doing at the time.

To begin with, both movies were directed by Terence Fisher who was well on his way to becoming Hammer's top director. He had recently made Gainsborough Picture's SO LONG AT THE FAIR which showed that he could handle a period setting as well as enliven a complicated plot through stylistic flourishes. Secondly the American actors involved, Paul Henreid & Lizabeth Scott in STOLEN FACE (1952) (one of the few titles not to an undergo an American name change) and forgotten B movie stalwart Dane Clark in BLACKOUT (original British title MURDER BY PROXY - 1954), really seem to be enjoying themselves and give committed performances. The British supporting cast featuring such stalwarts as Andre Morell, Eleanor Summerfield, and Alfie Bass are easily at home in their native settings. The settings are also very important as they serve as a time capsule of immediate post-WWII Britain from the London streets to the English countryside.

STOLEN FACE is the better of the two thanks to a more original story and the chemistry between Paul Henreid and Lizabeth Scott. The story of a plastic surgeon who gives a disfigured criminal his former lover's face only to have the woman return to her previous ways which get more complicated when the former lover returns, would serve as the basis for a number of later horror films most notably the French EYES WITHOUT A FACE (1959) and the 1968 Peter Cushing vehicle CORRUPTION. BLACKOUT is also worthwhile and is more noirish in style with a complicted plot of an American trying to decipher what happened during an alcoholic blackout, double and triple crosses, and a final surprising revelation. The very end of the film, from my perspective, was unsatisfactory but you'll have to see it and decide for yourselves. The video transfer of these minor gems from Kit Parker Films and VCI Entertainment is top flight considering their humble origins.

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