"If you think I'm going to get myself mixed up with you, you're crazy. You're pretty good and you`ve got style, but first comes you, second comes you, third comes you. You're one of those egotistical smart alecks with big ideas. You think you've got a right to get away with murder, and I imagine you often do, but not with me."
That's Evelyn Hahn (Joan Bennett) speaking. She's standing under an awning while the rain buckets down. She's just had an evening out with John Muller (Paul Henreid), a man she met when he came to the office of Dr. Victor Bartok because he'd heard he looks just like Bartok. Bartok is a psychologist and Evelyn Hahn manages things for him. And Evelyn Hahn, unknowingly, has Muller pegged. He's a smart, me first, anti-social criminal who thinks he should have the best. Now he's on the run because a gambler he tried to rob is after him. After seeing Bartok, Muller realizes he's got an escape hatch handy. The two are as identical as twins, except that Bartok has a scar on his cheek. A little boning up on psychology, a little practice mastering Bartok's handwriting, a little self-inflicted scar-making with a scalpel, and a little murder...and Muller becomes Bartok. Can retribution be far behind?
The Scar (aka Hollow Triumph) features great John Alton cinematography. The movie is always a pleasure to watch. Alton often was able to make a B movie look like it might have A movie potential. Paul Henreid, who produced the film, wanted to shed his image of being nothing but a sympathetic nice guy. He does a fine, assured job as Muller, a self-centered, manipulating egoist for whom murder is just another solution to a problem. Briefly seen is Leslie Brooks, a scheming fixture of low budget films, as gorgeous arm candy with Muller/Bartok. To see a real noir mellerdramer, watch her as the star of Blonde Ice, made the same year.
Joan Bennett, however, is utterly wasted. One can't help wondering why she took the role unless possibly as a favor to Henreid. To see just how good she was, watch her in Jean Renoir's The Woman on the Beach [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - Spain ], made the year before with Robert Ryan, and Max Ophul's The Reckless Moment (The Blank Wall) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2 Import - Great Britain ], made the year after with James Mason.
The Limping Man:
This goose is reasonably well prepared. The ending of The Limping Man, however, is so arbitrary and dishonest it makes clear how little regard for the audience, or for the integrity of their own movie, the producers must have had.
World War II vet Frank Pryor (Lloyd Bridges) returns to London from America after six years to look up an old flame, Pauline French (Moira Lister), now a successful actress. As he and the other passengers deplane and walk across to the terminal, Frank pauses for a moment and asks the man beside him for a light. There's a gunshot and the man crumples to the ground, shot by a marksman with a high-powered rifle, an assassin with a limp. It's not long before Frank Pryor is up to his neck in murderous intrigue. The mix includes blackmail, smuggling, magic acts, gritty Thames-side docks, backstage theater doings, a pouting French singer and, Frank discovers, some indiscretions in Pauline's past. The plot, under Cy Endfield's direction, keeps moving briskly ahead. The photography is nifty, with lots of nighttime eeriness, shadowy theater cellars and fear-filled eyes highlighted in the gloom.
But the movie reeks of class-conscious accents and acting. Whole generations of British actors, if they were to have a hope of succeeding as lead players, had to master that plummy, nasal, upper-class diction that was supposed to be the hallmark of an English gentleman or lady. When sound came to the movies, that social stratification based on how one spoke was enforced with a vengeance. Things began to change for lead players only when Michael Caine hit the big-time in Britain and kept his Cockney accent. Moira Lister's Pauline French (Lister was born and raised in South Africa) sounds like the carefully educated daughter of the English landed aristocracy, the kind of woman who schedules her love life with her husband as meticulously as she schedules her social engagements with her equals, and with considerably less frequency. She gives such an overly bred, mannered performance it seems unlikely she'd be attracted to an American ex-GI like Lloyd Bridge's Frank Pryor. However, one of the pleasures of the movie is that Frank flies into London on a Lockheed Constellation. We see several shots of this most graceful of airplanes flying and on the ground.
The ending of The Limping Man is a complete cheat. While some of us might enjoy at least some of this movie's 76 minutes, and I'm one of them, its conclusion left me feeling that I'd just been made a fool of.
Both movies are in the public domain. Don't expect too much and you won't be disappointed.