Paul, a young man whose father was once lieutenant Governor of California before his untimely death, has a strange, recurring dream in which his mother falls in love with a dangerous man (... See full summary »
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>
If you can buy the premisea hunted guy finds his exact double and takes over the double's lifethe rest follows pretty effectively. Writer Dan Fuchs is much underrated and a prime contributor to Hollywood's noir period. The screenplay is more cynical than usual for the genre. Catch how many times comely secretary Evelyn (Bennett) complains about never expecting anything from life; or the guy talking about people being so self-absorbed they don't even know the color of their wife's eyes; and, of course, there's that desolate ending.
Then too, the self-absorption is underscored by the fact that no one even notices that Muller/Dr. Bartok's scar has changed location on his face. Not even those closest to him. The exception is the humble old charwoman, which is why the arrogant Bartok embraces her in a sudden moment of appreciation. I also like the little garage guy's big dream of becoming a sleek ballroom dancer. He has no chance, of course, but it helps him cope. Except for the contrived premise, it's quite a provocative and, at times, touching screenplay.
Frankly, Henreid's a little too impassive in the title role to grab attention. However, the script's pretty strong, so I don't think it really hurts the movie, but it doesn't help, either. Alton's expert noir photography helps lift the visuals to a compelling level. At the same time, I doubt that fate has had a stronger role than in this film, along with an ending among the most devastating in all noir. All in all, the production remains a solid noir entry.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?