Sunday, 28 December 2008

Hollow Triumph, aka The Scar (Steve Sekely, 1948)

Evelyn Hahn: “It’s a bitter little world…”

The fatalism of a bitter little world is ever present in this movie. Former medical student John Muller (Paul Henreid) has just been released from prison. He has planned a robbery at a casino which turns out to be a failure. Muller has to escape to L.A. where he takes a job but the menace of being caught casts a permanent shadow on his life.
He comes to know by chance that he looks almost exactly like psychiatrist Victor Bartok. He sees a chance of escaping his fate if he can impersonate the doctor: He has a good psychiatry practice and a nice secretary (Joan Bennet).
This becomes Muller’s objective and he plans carefully how to “become” Dr Bartok. To make this resemblance more likely he manages to reproduce a facial scar and later he kills and gets rid of the doctor.
When Muller has succeeded impersonating Dr Bartok he suddenly has to face the troubles of the dead man. Muller will be a victim and pay, not for his crimes but for the doctor’s past troubles… His fate was following him all the way…
This is not one of the great films of the noir style (it is not usually in the top lists), however it has the essence of the genre… there is a fatalistic quality in the movie with a menacing shadowy photography (great work by John Alton).

John Muller: “It’s too late and what’s the use? You can never go back and start again… You don’t see what’s happening to you. It just happens