Saturday, 28 June 2008

HOLLOW TRIUMPH/The Scar (1948)

,If you catch this movie on DVD it will probably be under its re-release title, THE SCAR, and it is also known as THE MAN WHO MURDERED HIMSELF. Under any title it's a pretty good movie. An atmospheric film noir featuring an unusually unsympathetic Paul Henreid as an educated career criminal who gets out of prison and gathers his old gang together to rob a mob controlled casino. Of course, it all goes horribly wrong and one by one the gang are hunted down until only Hendreid is left. By accident he learns of a psychiatrist who is his physical double and he sets out to assume his identity. Of course there is much more to it than that and the film has a keen sense of character observation - particularly in the case of the psychiatrist's secretary played by Joan Bennett (who surely deserves a chapter to herself in the history of Film Noir) and a lovely cameo from the ever excellent John Qualen. As with Lawrence Tierney in THE HOODLUM Henreid eschews audience sympathy almost completely - almost, because there is a brief scene involving a cleaning lady where his humanity shows through. It is an unexpected moment in the film and as well as being both revealing and touching it is a nice comment on human nature in general. HOLLOW TRIUMPH is directed by Steve Sekely who seems to have done little of note and today is probably best remembered for the 1960's sci-fi film THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS which wasn't very good. Who knows ? There may be another gem lurking out there in the valley of forgotten films. Rating ***

No comments: