John Muller, medical school dropout and brilliant crook, plans a holdup which goes a little bit wrong, and finds vindictive gambler Rocky Stansyck after him. At the end of his tether, he stumbles onto a lucky chance to assume an impenetrable new identity as psychiatrist Victor Bartok. But irony piles on as Muller finds it's out of the frying pan, into the fire. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Yes, "Hollow Triumph" or "The Scar" is a very fine example of film noir. It is tough, gritty, full of duplicity, and identities that shift across screen time. But what really makes this film sing is the vivid low-key photography of John Alton. Yes, perhaps Sekely deserves some credit, but the look is all Alton. "HT" is shot the same year (1948) as two other excellently lensed films by Alton -- "Amazing Mr. X" and "He Walked By Night." Dark sets lit with single light sources, bizarre angles and strong uses of deep focus compositions characterize Alton's work. Alton knew well how to get along with less light, creating the nightmarish worlds we see on the screen. This film's look reminds me of another great noir work -- Welles' 1958 "Touch of Evil" shot by Metty. But as I think of the two cinematographers, Alton seemed to best encapsulate the noir look -- seamy, wet, claustrophobic and dead-ended.
Of worthy mention here too, is: Henreid repeating the cigarette motif we saw earlier in "Now, Voyager," but here given a chain-smoking mania of its own, suggestive of insecurity and metaphoric of his attempts to "cloak" his identity, to shape-shift like a cloud of smoke into something new.
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