'Hollow Triumph: Restored Classics'
(Paul Henreid, Joan Bennett, Eduard Franz, Leslie Brooks, et al / Blu ray / NR / (1948) 2015 / Film Detective)
Overview: John Muller, a career criminal on the fun from vengeful gangsters after a botched casino robbery, finds the ultimate hideout; he remakes himself to take the place of a successful psychoanalyst who bears a strong resemblance to him. However, he fails to take into account that when you take over someones life, you inherit the good with the bad.
Blu ray Verdict: As a film noir, 'The Scar' (retitled at a later date as 'Hollow Triumph') works on several different levels. And even though a major plot point in the story stretches the realm of possibility a bit too far, this forgotten little film deserves a better fate than its present public-domain, bargain bin video status.
The plot revolves around John Muller (Henreid), who organizes a major casino heist with a few of his pals. When the sting is botched, Muller runs as far away as he can with his ill-gotten gains. The casino's owner, a gangster (who bears an interesting likeness to Richard Conte) isn't planning on taking this robbery on his back. He dispatches two of his more intimidating thugs to locate him and ... well ... retrieve the stolen money. "Even if it takes you 20 years," he demands.
In a desperate attempt to conceal himself from the vengeful clutches of the fore-mentioned gangster, Muller engineers a plan to impersonate a psychologist who, as it turns out, is a carbon-copy lookalike of himself. The only difference between the two is a rigid scar that outlines his left cheek. Can Muller find it within himself to kill the psychologist and begin living a double life? Will the gangsters guns find him first?
I have to admit, with the exception of a couple of protracted scenes, 'The Scar' truly is a first-rate thriller. Steve Sekely directs, punctuating just about every scene with classic film noir iconography. Daniel Fuchs' script is also top-notch which may have served as a primer for his next project, the indelible 'Criss Cross' for Universal. He also penned 'Panic in the Streets,' another great, oft-overlooked film noir starring Richard Widmark.
Joan Bennett's performance comes off as a trifle pallid, but then again, this was Henreid's picture from the get-go. He commands every scene that he appears in with suave acumen, something that I missed from his performance in the overrated 'Casablanca.' I'll be the first to admit that I've not seen many of his other pictures, but Henreid really won me over with this film. In truth, and for my money, he deserves a far better acknowledgement than only as "the other guy" of 'Casablanca.' This is a Full Screen, Black & White Presentation (1:33.1) restored and enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
Blu ray Purchase Link