Hollow Triumph

1948

Crime / Drama

0
IMDb Rating 6.8

Synopsis


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83 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by robert-temple-1 7

Paul Henreid produced this film in which he starred, eerily portraying a totally amoral man who does not see anything at all wrong with the occasional murder, as long as he 'needs to do it'. John Bennett delivers an equally powerful performance of a woman who, although not good, is certainly not bad, and it is curious that this study of a woman's fixation on a bad man through infatuation was made in the same year as 'Force of Evil' which showed an even more extreme form of that. It must have been 'beauty and the beast' year. The ingenious plot concerns a double-identity, so there are two major threads of intrigue going on at once. Needless to say, Joan Bennett is involved with both Henreids, but prefers the baddie because he is more spellbinding and, let's face it, far from boring. This is a well-directed, sometimes brutal, atmospheric thriller which is something of a lost classic. It is now available on DVD under its alternative title of 'The Scar', which is a most unfortunate title, as people don't like scars (even though there is one in the story). Joan Bennett was really made for these films, as she proved in 'The Woman in the Window' and 'Scarlet Street' for instance. There is something ambiguous about her, something hard that is soft, you can't quite figure her. That's just right for noir. You should never be able to figure noir, everything should stay in the shadows where it belongs. The thing about a good thriller like this is, the mystery goes beyond the story itself and becomes the mystery of people themselves, what is it that goes on inside heads, those impenetrable citadels of secrets.

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Reviewed by TigerMann 6

Paul Henreid and Joan Bennett star in &quot;The Scar,&quot; otherwise known as &quot;Hollow Triumph.&quot;<br/><br/>As a film noir, &quot;The Scar&quot; 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. <br/><br/>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&#39;s owner, a gangster (who bears an interesting likeness to Richard Conte) isn&#39;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. &quot;Even if it takes you 20 years,&quot; 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?<br/><br/>I have to admit, with the exception of a couple of protracted scenes, &quot;The Scar&quot; truly is a first-rate thriller. Steve Sekely directs, punctuating just about every scene with classic film noir iconography. Daniel Fuchs&#39; script is also top-notch ... which may have served as a primer for his next project ... the indelible &quot;Criss Cross&quot; for Universal. (He also penned &quot;Panic in the Streets,&quot; another great, oft-overlooked film noir starring Richard Widmark.) Joan Bennett&#39;s performance comes off as a trifle pallid ... but then again, this was Henreid&#39;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 &quot;Casablanca.&quot; I&#39;ll be the first to admit that I&#39;ve not seen many of his other pictures. But Henreid really won me over with this film ... he deserves a far better acknowledgement than only as &quot;the other guy&quot; of &quot;Casablanca.&quot;<br/><br/>More than anything, I think &quot;The Scar&quot; (or &quot;Hollow Triumph&quot; ... whatever) is a classic example of just how absent-minded popular culture really is. More than ever, movie-goers expect a film that is saturated in bloody action, quick-cuts, and talentless actors. There&#39;s not a lot going for movies, today. And thankfully ... most of what&#39;s out there will have been long-forgotten by the popular culture consciousness in a few years. I think that modern pop culture has unfairly labeled film noir as being movies lavished with shadows, dames and guns. And while all of these are inherent to the genre, they forget the cold, black heart that beats beneath its surface. &quot;The Scar&quot; thrives on this kind of energy. It&#39;s a classic example of what made film noir great ... and why we&#39;ll never see anything like it ever again.

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Reviewed by KuRt-33 9

Hollow Triumph is a very good film noir that&#39;s often missing from Essential Noir lists, usually only because it&#39;s not very well known. Now whereas we could debate for hours whether this movie deserves a place in those lists or not (or debate on which noirs absolutely need to go in those lists), why don&#39;t we just take a closer look at the film?<br/><br/>THE STORY SO FAR... Johnny Muller is a criminal, planning to rob a casino with the help of a few friends and two cars. The robbery doesn&#39;t go too well and only the car with Johnny and &#39;Marcy&#39; manages to escape. They hide as it&#39;s all too clear that the casino people will do all to get their money back. Hiding wasn&#39;t a bad idea, Johnny finds out: one day the newspaper shows a picture of &#39;Marcy&#39; shot on the streets. No points for guessing who&#39;s behind it. Johnny is looking for a way out and finds one when a man on the streets takes the gangster for Dr. Bartok, a psychiatrist. Johnny pays a visit to the doctor&#39;s office where even Bartok&#39;s secretary mistakes Johnny for her boss, till she observes the one difference that can distinguish the lookalikes: Bartok has a scar on his cheek. Johnny takes a picture of Bartok and uses all his surgical knowledge to copy the scar on his cheek. Unfortunately, due to a mix-up at the photo lab, the photo&#39;s printed the wrong way round and Johnny finds himself with the scar on the wrong cheek. But who really pays that much attention to people&#39;s faces?<br/><br/>SO IT&#39;S A FILM NOIR THEN... Yes, it is. We have the gangster looking for a way out, the femme fatale (the secretary) with no faith left in mankind and we get a hard-boiled vision on life: who really cares about good and bad? Who really observes other people? Ask yourself the question: would you notice a scar moving to the other side of a person&#39;s face? That person is still there, the scar&#39;s still there and let&#39;s face it: scars can&#39;t move, can they?<br/><br/>WHAT MAKES THIS FILM SO SPECIAL? Not the beginning, I found it a bit weak, but a very good climax at the end of the film somehow makes us forgive that.<br/><br/>First, let&#39;s look at the cast and director. The director Steve Sekely (born in Hungary as István Székely) made 50 films. His career started in Hungary in 1930. Nine years later he moved to the USA. Most of his films are quite unknown, the biggest exception being an adaptation from a John Wyndham novel: The Day of The Triffids (1962).<br/><br/>Starring as John Muller, we find one Paul Henreid, a man you might recognise from Casablanca (where he played Victor Laszlo) or as the lead in the film classic usually watched for the wrong reason, Of Human Bondage. The femme fatale is often essential to a film noir, which makes the choice of Joan Bennett as Bartok&#39;s secretary a very good deal. She didn&#39;t only play the lead in Max Ophuls&#39;s film noir The Reckless Moment, she was also in the three noirs director Fritz &#39;Metropolis&#39; Lang directed in the forties: Scarlett Street, The Woman in the Window and - save the best for last - Secret Beyond The Door. In Hollow Triumph she may not play the lead, but she&#39;s still an essential part of the movie.<br/><br/>But what makes this movie so special is... the lighting technique. Director Steve Sekely observed how one lamp can light (parts of) a room and took all sorts of lights (from natural exterior light to big Hollywood spots) to light his movie in such a way Hollow Triumph is a lust for the eye. The light (or absence of) is also a motiv in the film (e.g. during the robbery disabling the lights is an essential part of the plan, but it&#39;s the presence of light that exposes them when they want to drive away). But Sekely uses all those forms of light in such a subtle way it doesn&#39;t bother you when you&#39;re watching the film. On the contrary, it even adds to your viewing pleasure.

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